Daihatsu’s amazing achievement to sell more than 18,000 units of its newly launched Taft kei crossover in the first month of its launch alone shows the potential of high-quality small vehicles that are coming from Japanese manufacturers.
However, with the country’s “controlled” automotive market, a small number of Malaysians might be able to experience ownership of this vehicle in 24 to 36 months’ time when a recon car importer decides to import in some used units at a high selling price.
Meanwhile this impressive sales result has even surprised Daihatsu as its predicted monthly sales target was just 4,000 units a month, making the current figure sold 4.5 times what Daihatsu originally estimated. Bear in mind, this tiny SUV is only being sold in Japan for the foreseeable future.
The Daihatsu Taft, which stands for “Tough & Almighty Fun Tool” is built on a modified Toyota kei car platform as part of the Daihatsu New Generation Architecture (DNGA).
Related to the Daihatsu Tanto kei car, the Taft is a chunkier looking off-road version of the Tanto and was envisioned as a replacement for the equally-strange Daihatsu Cast Active and Sport.
As per Japanese kei car regulations, under the bonnet of the Taft is a 658cc three-cylinder petrol engine producing 51hp or a mighty 63hp if the turbo option is ticked.
Both engines are mated to a CVT transmission that either drives only the front wheels or all four wheels on select models.
On the inside of this rugged-looking 4×4, the main highlight would be the standard full-length glass roof that Daihatsu calls the “Sky Feel Top”.
In terms of safety features, the new Taft is equipped with an upgraded version of Daihatsu’s Smart Assist active safety suite which includes road sign recognition and lane departure warning.
Starting at just 1,353,000 yen (about RM53,500) this would have been a hit with young single Malaysian drivers and some one-child families.
Think about it – this could be the replacement model for the ageing and forgotten Perodua Kenari.