If you're shopping for a secondhand supermini, you probably haven't considered Daihatsu's Charade. Like most small car buyers, you've probably set your sights on a mainstream model such as a Ford Fiesta or a Vauxhall Corsa. However, if your priorities are quality and value for money, a Daihatsu Charade might be worth tracking down.
The Charade started life as a rather uninspiring looking hatchback (offered in three and five-door form) with lacklustre 1.0 and 1.3-litre engines. These were replaced in 1993 by altogether more modern machines. This expanded range included 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6-litre hatchbacks and a 1.5-litre saloon. They were better equipped and offered buyers greater value for money.
Though now almost completely replaced by the smaller one-litre Sirion, the Charade remains an affordable supermini alternative and makes sense as a good second-hand buy.
While the earliest Charades (1987-1989 CX and the hot-hatch GTti models) are practical and affordable vehicles, post-1990 cars are a far better bet. From September of that year even the entry-level 1.0 CX added power assisted steering to its already comprehensive list of standard equipment. Creature comforts on both variants included electric door mirrors, an internal fuel filler and boot release switches as well as a good quality stereo.
Later that year, the range was extended to include a 1.0-litre, five-door turbodiesel CX version. Then, in 1991, this trio was joined by another variant, a 1.3-litre petrol-engined five-door hatch that was available in three different trim levels: CX, CXi and GXi.
However, the newer the Charade the better and the revised 1993 line-up is superior to anything that came before it. It includes an economy version (the 1.3 petrol GSe), plus a trio of three and five-door hatches with a single point fuel injected version of the 1.3-litre engine. There was also a luxury 1.5-litre variant called the GLXi SE (which boasted air conditioning and metallic paint) and a flagship 1.6 GSXi three-door hatch.
In 1996, the whole range was given a makeover and gained cheeky front end styling that singled it out from a number of more anonymous-looking competitors. These models are also longer and much roomier than their predecessors. There's more leg space for both front and rear-seat passengers, while greater glass area and careful changes to the interior have given the cabin a more airy, less claustrophobic feel. Luggage space is improved, too.
Three-door models were dropped after a couple of years and, at the end of 1999, the 1.5-litre saloon and the automatic and anti-lock brake options were deleted. The range continued as a single 1.3-litre LXi SE hatchback with generous equipment including dual airbags, central locking and electric windows and mirrors. This model was deleted at the end of 2000.