Why I Ditched the Suzuki Cultus for a Daihatsu Mira

After much deliberation over local cars and their generic color options (white, silver and gray), a decision had to be made regarding which car to invest my hard earned money into.

Local conventions dictated that I buy the car not for myself but the person I would potentially sell it to after 4 to 5 years of use. I took a leap of faith and bought myself a 2013 Daihatsu Mira G Package in a standout red.

A red car

The initial reaction from family members, especially women and the elderly, was positive. They found it to be a welcome change amidst all the dull colored cars that dominate our roads.

Admittedly, some people were baffled by my choice of red. While it may be true that not every car looks good in red, this little hatchback looked fantastic to me.

A fully-loaded variant

The purpose of mentioning the ‘G Package’ is to differentiate between the variants and trims that the Mira comes in. This is the ‘fully loaded’ variant which includes features like:

  • Push-start
  • Climate control
  • Leather steering
  • Chrome interior trims
  • Factory reverse camera
  • NAV unit
  • 4 speaker system (using the Japanese NAV unit to configure the speaker can be quite challenging)

While all these features are standard with the G Package, you do have the option to go for a customized order whereby lower variants can be fitted with the same features, with the exception of the ‘push-start’ and ‘climate control’ features.

Is it brand new? You can check

At the time of purchase, my Mira had only been driven 1,500 kilometres and had been cleared from Karachi port just 12 days prior to booking.

There has been scepticism about the 1,500 KMs shown on my Mira’s odometer. The car is brand new, and here’s how you should go about checking it if you plan to buy one:

  • Always look for those cars whose auction sheets you can verify online. There are plenty of resources available online which can help you understand how to read the auction sheet.

  • There is a time limit when you can view the whole report online. For 90 days after publishing, the report is available for free on the auction house’s web portal, after which you have to pay to view the report in its entirety. This is called auction report verification.

  • My Mira was a 4.5 grade vehicle which was cleared from the port just one week before I spotted it. The papers were complete and verified that claim.

  • If you are still skeptical, refer to a car certifying service.

Bad days are behind me

I recall the time I owned a 2004 Suzuki Cultus. and the anxiety I felt each time it would rain in Karachi. The fear my car may stall at any moment was very real.

Getting the Mira made me realise that the local auto-industry is not serving cars that are best suited for the city. For example, the Suzuki Cultus started its life in 1983 and has mostly remained the same, with the exception of some minor changes.

At the current price of Rs1.19 million, it’s only Rs40,000 less than what I paid for my Mira.

In comparison, the Cultus still does not feature power steering. So in my opinion, it is not a comparison one should waste their time on.

With the purchase of the Mira, those days are behind me. The Mira, not only worked flawlessly during heavy rains, while navigating deep water puddles had the traction control to keep both car and passengers safe at all times.

Honestly, I can go on and on talking about the tech-rich features of the Mira or some of its biggest qualities. However, I feel it is important to highlight one of the few disadvantages of this car.

The downside

The NAV/ICE unit is in Japanese, which proves to be a real nuisance. Unfortunately, most of the technological features available in the car are controlled through the NAV/ICE unit. This means that you may eventually have to take your car to an expert to enable or disable the simplest of features, like the rear view camera. I could not manage to activate it personally, and had to rely on a technician.

A good driver safety feature is also included in the NAV unit which does not allow access to the menu while driving, limiting its options to the mapping or volume controls.

Fuel and performance

As far is fuel is concerned, you are not required to use hi-octane in the Mira. Using the new 92 RON fuel is more efficient in my experience.

Daihatsu’s official spec sheet suggests “Unleaded Regular Gasoline” which is usually 90-92 RON, to be used in the vehicle.

While I am currently using Hascol’s new 92 RON fuel, I did previously try out Shell’s V-Power hi-octane but it gave me 15.5 KM per liter, as higher RON fuel didn’t fit well with the car. In order to get a better understanding of fuel consumption, I tried out Shell’s Super Unleaded Fuel which pushed up my mileage to 16.5 KM per litre.

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Now that I am on Hascol’s 92 RON fuel, regardless of whether I drive slow or put my foot to the accelerator, the mileage never drops below 17 km/litre.

To put this into perspective; my daily commute is from Gulistan-e-Johar to Shaheen Complex and back, during the rush hours of the morning around 9:00AM and evening around 5:30PM. Usually, a car would give you consistent mileage if you drive at a steady and consistent speed. However, even with the inconsistency of rush hour traffic, my mileage remains a satisfying 17 km/litre.

Powerful enough?

The big question on everyone’s mind is whether a 660cc car is powerful enough. The 660cc car range has come a long way since the Mini Pajero was first brought to Pakistan. They were never known for their speed or fuel economy, but now things have changed. We’ve already talked about the mileage of the Mira and while it can’t be referred to as the “Flying bird of Asia”, it definitely packs a punch.

The car features two driving modes: ‘sport’ and ‘drive’.

When you’re in the drive mode, there’s power but the acceleration is steady due to the objective of optimising fuel consumption through the eco-idle feature which remains on at all times.

When you are in Sport mode, the power and acceleration is immediate regardless of what speed you are at. If we were to draw a parallel, the sport mode is the equivalent of the 100 metre race and the drive mode is more like a 400 metre race: It is explosive strength versus endurance.

The three shades of Mira

There are three shades of colour featured on the Mira’s instrument cluster that indicate the particular ‘mood’ the car is driving in.

The bright green, eco mode, is when you are driving the car at the highest level of fuel efficiency: you have achieved the perfect harmony between your foot, pedal and the engine.

While accelerating or at low speeds, it can be tricky to maintain the car to drive on the perfect eco mode.

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The dull shade of green is where the car is saying to you ‘I don’t like you right now because you can do better’. And it usually turns this shade of green when you are accelerating from under 5 to10 km/hour speeds.

And then there’s the default shade of blue. It is the wild side, where you’re just driving without any regard for how many kilometers you’re doing on a liter.

Lots of space

The new Toyota Corolla has a dashboard that can sometimes feel like a big kitchen cabinet staring right at you. It makes the interior space feel small.

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Regardless of how attractive the car looks from the exterior, most of our time is spent inside the car, making the interior one of the most important aspects of your purchasing decision.

Mira’s dashboard is not in-your-face and the interior is spacious. Seriously, just hop down to some dealership and sit in one of these and you’ll see that these are objectively designed to fit in the urban environment and yet offer you the interior space of any large sedan. Leg space is also ample in the back and in the front.

The turning radius of the car is phenomenal, perfectly suiting the narrow streets of the city.

One frustrating drawback, however, is that speed bumps have a tendency to scrape its underbelly too often when you have the car filled up to capacity (four adults).

No spare wheel

The Mira does not have a spare wheel. Instead, Daihatsu has provided a tyre puncture fluid that can be used to temporarily fix a puncture so you may be able to drive to a nearby tyre shop.

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You are also provided with a spare battery for the eco-idle system which is used to feed power to the car while it is standing idle to conserve fuel.

Safety features

If you get a chance, visit Daihatsu Japan’s website for a detailed demo of Mira’s safety features and equipment because I am going to quickly take you through it.

Front and side airbags

All too often I see people who do not wear seatbelts and instead insert its buckle into the holder from the back of their seats to disable the warning beep tricking the system into believing that the person is wearing a seat belt and therefore activating the airbag system. This is quite dangerous for the driver because airbags themselves can cause significant injury in case of an impact.

Additionally, if you do not wear a seatbelt then a lot of Mira’s functions, such as eco-idle do not work.

Collision assist

The collision assist system will sometimes determine that you will not be able to brake in time to avoid collision so it will jump in and brake for you. But it doesn’t come in to play all the time, the system is smart and will detect when it is absolutely required.

The Verdict

Even though the Mira is a car built for the Japanese market, it can still hold its own against similar local car models when it comes to durability and features that it has to offer.

The parts and services for this car are all locally available so it should not create any problems should you require any repair work in the future.

So whenever you make a purchase, don’t do it for the person who is going to buy it off you many years later — buy it for yourself.

Note: This article originally appeared at Dawn.com and has been reproduced here with permission.