A new 1.5 litre engine plus sporty looks and high equipment levels are features of the new Daihatsu Sirion SX – on sale immediately and priced at £9,495 on-the-road.

Meanwhile, the entire Sirion range benefits from a freshening up with new bumpers and air-intakes, new wheel designs, revised, grippier front seats, plusher cloth trim and improved rear suspension for taughter handling.

Based on the top-spec Sirion 1.3 SE, the SX adds a larger 103 PS 1.5 litre engine, a deep front spoiler with mesh grille, front fog lamps, side skirts and rear tailgate spoiler.

Standard equipment includes red interior trim, alloy wheels, air-conditioning, four electric windows, driver, passenger and side airbags, a radio/CD player and remote central-locking.

And not only is there now an automatic option for the Sirion SX but the new 1.5 litre model boasts Vehicle Stability Control as standard for the first time – effectively a traction control system providing corrective actions in the event of a skid.

The interior boasts a pod-like oval speedometer which moves up and down with the height-adjustable steering wheel. All new Sirions also feature a rev-counter and LCD panel in the speedometer showing current and average fuel consumption.

Another welcome new innovation is an external input allowing an iPod or MP3 player to be played through the radio/CD player. Meanwhile, the front passenger airbag can now be deactivated.

The new Sirion 1.5 SX features a highly-efficient new four-cylinder 16-valve petrol engine with Dynamic Variable Valve Timing (DVVT) – similar to that fitted to the new Materia mini-MPV and Terios mini-SUV.

Maximum power is 103 PS at 6,000 rpm with maximum torque of 97.4 lb ft at 4,400 rpm for flexible, effortless acceleration and cruising.

Top speed is 109 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 10.1 seconds yet the new Sirion 1.5 SX returns a frugal 54.3 mpg on the Extra Urban Cycle and 51.4 mpg for the automatic version which costs £10,295 on-the-road.

Originally launched in 2005, the completely new 5-door only Sirion rapidly became Daihatsu’s best-seller and offers segment-busting space, style, value and equipment. For example, Sirion sales are 47 per cent up in 2007.

In addition, both performance, fuel economy and exhaust emissions are all class-challenging. For example the Sirion 1.0 can reach almost 100 mph yet returns 64.2 mpg on the Extra Urban Cycle and its 118 g/km qualifies it for a £35 annual Road Fund Licence. It should also be exempt from the proposed new London Congestion Charge.

Despite high equipment levels throughout the range which include ABS with EBD, air-conditioning, driver, passenger and side airbags and remote central-locking, the revised ’08 Sirion range starts from just £7,495 OTR.