Daihatsu may be long gone from Australian showrooms, but Japan’s oldest carmaker is still going strong overseas with a number of compact passenger and commercial vehicles on offer.
The carmaker’s most recent launch was the new-generation Copen roadster, but other models familiar to Australian buyers - the Terios and the Sirion - are also still available in overseas areas.
This week, the carmaker has turned to one of its more important markets, Indonesia, to unveil a new SUV concept: the Daihatsu FX.
Revealed at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show, the FX is imagined as a small SUV “tough enough to stand up to the rigours of off-road running”.
Daihatsu has yet to hand down full details on the FX’s mechanical package, although it has confirmed that a 1.2 litre engine provides power, sent to the rear wheels.
But, with claims of off-road capabilities, it is likely that the eventual production model range will offer four-wheel drive - and possibly the same “built-in ladder frame” monocoque body design that features in the Terios.
As with the new Copen, the FX brings a desperately needed modern look to the Daihatsu brand, albeit with a less ostentatious design than that worn by its roadster stablemate.
In concept form, the FX wears a clearly sports-styled look at both ends, with large faux intakes at the front and vertically-stacked twin quad exhaust tips at the rear, flanking a tall skid plate.
Lighting at both ends is likewise conceptual in design, with intricate LED units featured at both ends.
Much of the FX’s design could cleanly transfer to production, however, with a large glasshouse and conventional sports alloy wheels rounding out the styling.
Riding on a 2455mm wheelbase, the FX measures 3800mm long, 1690mm and 1580mm tall, making it noteably smaller than the likes of Honda’s HR-V and the Mazda CX-3 - but larger than the new Renault Kwid that will be offered in some overseas markets.
FX for Australia?
As with the Kwid, we shouldn’t expect to see the FX in Australia - at least, not with a Daihatsu badge.
Although Renault operates here, the Kwid is focused on emerging markets, and the FX is expected to do the same.
But, while the Daihatsu brand hasn’t been offered in Australia since the mid-2000s, it is possible that parent company Toyota could re-badge the FX for its own line-up. Already, the current 80kW Terios compact SUV is sold overseas as the Toyota Rush.
Of course, even with a Toyota badge swap, the current Terios/Rush - now nearly 10 years old - is unlikely to come to Australia.
The FX, however?
Toyota does not currently offer a compact SUV in Western markets, which could make the FX a contender. But, with the recent C-HR concept already confirmed for a production future of some sort - expect a more subtle look to the finish product - it’s likely that model we’ll see here.
Toyota Australia's public relations manager Mike Breen told CarAdvice in October that a sub-RAV4 SUV would be a welcome addition to the local range.
“We’d be very please to have a sub-RAV4 to compete in that very competitive segment,” he said, although launch timing is still far from confirmed.
With the C-HR expected to debut sometime in 2016, a 2017 launch in Australia could be on the cards.