Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Daihatsu - Applause - Executive 5-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Reliable, comfortable cabin, versatile hatch
Room for improvement
Dull to drive

7 May 2003

DECIDING between small four-door family cars can be a bit like choosing soap powders. They all have similar specifications and do the same job, so the choice comes down to sifting through the fine differences and making a personal choice based on the packaging.

Daihatsu tends to be overshadowed by the larger Japanese manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi but the company - originally called Hatsudoki Seizo Co Ltd - has a longer heritage than its rivals, having produced its first gas intake engine in 1907.

The first three-wheeler was built in 1930 and the first four-wheeler in 1937. In 1951 the company adopted the Daihatsu name, making light trucks. A milestone was the announcement of a prototype electric vehicle in 1966.

Daihatsu has been an important player in the small passenger, four-wheel drive and light truck markets in Australia since 1965, successfully marketing the Charade, Rocky, Feroza and a range of light trucks.

The Applause was introduced in 1989, entering the fiercely contested small family sedan segment.

It is powered by a 1.6-litre, overhead camshaft, 16-valve engine driving the front wheels through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.

The body styling is deceptive, having the appearance of a sedan with a traditional boot. In fact, it is a cleverly disguised hatchback.

Four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes complete an impressive specification.

The Applause range includes the base Li, the Executive, Xi and Sports models. The latter pair have several extra features including larger wheels, central locking, better interior trim, tilt steering and electric mirrors.

The Applause Executive's 1589cc, 16-valve engine is an excellent performer. The engine is very light, featuring hollow crankshaft and camshaft, and is quiet in operation. Economy is also a strong point with 7.0 litres per 100km achievable in normal city driving.

The four-speed automatic transmission has a lock-up clutch which contributes to the excellent economy. A safety feature of the auto is that the brake pedal must be pressed before the shift lever can be moved from the Park position. Also, the ignition key can only be removed with the lever in Park.

On the road, the all independent suspension - MacPherson struts front and rear - and non power-assisted rack and pinion steering give the Executive a responsive feel but high roll stiffness can cause some loss of wheel adhesion if the car is pushed hard into corners.

Brakes are discs all round, ventilated at the front, with plenty of stopping ability for the car's performance.

The combination of sedan shape and hatchback opening makes the Executive a roomy and practical package. The rear parcel shelf can be removed to allow the rear seat backs to fold back and folding the seats forward gives a large and useful luggage area.

Special attention has been paid to rustproofing the body with the use of galvanised panels, and side intrusion bars are fitted to all doors.

Reliability has been a strong point with all Daihatsu models and the Applause continues this characteristic.

When looking at possible purchases, keep in mind the Executive was packaged with the fleet market in mind so check the distance covered by the car is consistent with its age, using the yardstick of 15,000km per year as an average.

The Daihatsu Executive is a top contender in its class. Excellent specifications, good performance and economy, a useful body design and a reputation for reliability make it a good buy.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new Applause

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here