Daihatsu Sirion Rally IV

First it lost out to Mercedes' E-Class, and now it has truly fallen from its pedestal. The venerable BMW 5-Series has been beaten again... this time by a Daihatsu supermini. No, seriously. The new Sirion Rally IV will hit 0-60mph quicker than a BMW 520i - in only 8.9 seconds, compared to the Beemer's 9.2

The Rally IV is a performance bargain, but it's an acquired taste. If you can live with nasty plastic trim and bug-eyed looks for the satisfaction of outsprinting a BMW, it's worth a look. But if you value image and quality, go elsewhere.

First it lost out to Mercedes' E-Class, and now it has truly fallen from its pedestal. The venerable BMW 5-Series has been beaten again... this time by a Daihatsu supermini.

No, seriously. The new Sirion Rally IV will hit 0-60mph quicker than a BMW 520i - in only 8.9 seconds, compared to the Beemer's 9.2. And while it can't compete on style - with flimsy trim, a chin-between-the-knees driving position, goofy lights and a huge grille - this car is more than the sum of its parts.

Why? Because the Rally IV is such good fun. Underneath the bulbous body lurks a 113bhp 1.3-litre engine from the Toyota Yaris. But Daihatsu has tweaked it to offer more power than the T Sport's 1.5-litre, plus the Sirion has four-wheel drive and a close-ratio five-speed box. As a result, the car is quick, and boasts impressive grip and a sporty exhaust note. On twisty roads, its competent chassis makes it lively and agile, while it outperforms several cars costing twice the price. But the Rally IV disappoints on the motorway. The engine sounds buzzy and, despite a claimed 112mph potential top speed, the car struggles with inclines and lacks urgency in the higher gears. Of course, this isn't Daihatsu's first mad supermini. But where the Charade GTti was a great all-rounder, the Sirion is completely daft in nearly every respect - so you'll either love it or hate it...

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