Holy Crap There's A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course It's Fantastic

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Graphic: Daihatsu/Jason Torchinsky

You know what I like to do when things start to feel a bit gray and dreary? I like to take myself on a little journey. A journey to a place I know will always make the world seem brighter and more optimistic. A strange, magical place I like to call “Daihatsu Japan’s Website.” And this trip brought me knowledge of something truly wonderful: a new Daihatsu Taft.

Advertisement

Well, relatively new at least—this new version of the Taft went into production in June, and was available for sale July 10. That counts as new!

This new Taft is based on Daihatsu’s WakuWaku concept car that we saw last year at the Tokyo Motor Show:

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

If you’re not familiar with the Taft, don’t feel bad—the Taft name was only just brought back this year after being most recently used back in 2007 for the Indonesian market version of a small off-roader that was better known here as the Rocky, but was also called the Fourtrak or Hiline or the Toyota Blizzard.

To Americans especially, the Taft name may seem odd, since it’s the name of our 27th president, William Howard Taft. There’s speculation that the Taft was named for him because of a slight resemblance, which, if you look at old photos, you can kind of see:

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Illustration: National Archives, sorta

Despite the coincidental similarities, Daihatsu maintains the name is an acronym for “Tough & Almighty Fun Tool,” which is a hilarious string of words I soon hope to use in a semi-public setting to refer to my genitalia, which I’m sure will deliver Big Laffs.

Let’s get back to the new Taft, though. It’s a Kei-class car, which means it’s legally limited to 660cc and 64 horsepower, along with a strict set of compact dimensions.

Advertisement

The Taft, of course, meets all these requirements, with a658cc naturally-aspirated inline-three engine making 51 HP, or a turbo version making 63 HP. Buyers can choose whether or not they want all those horses spinning just the front wheels through a CVT, or spinning all four wheels.

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

I think the new Taft looks fantastic; a chunky, boxy, futuristic-looking little brute that, especially with the optional “plating” on the front, looks a bit like a micro-Hummer, in a good way.

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

The interior and packaging seems effective as well, with the boxy dimensions affording a surprising amount of interior space, and an approach to utilitarianism and flexibility that Daihatsu is calling “Backpack Style,” which they were so excited about that they couldn’t resist commissioning this song:

It’s fun. It’s all fun. That’s what I love—there’s no pretention here or meaningless status-posturing, this is a car about doing shit and having fun. Humanity needs this kind of thing.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu

The interior looks open and airy, thanks to a huge glass roof, and the instrument panel design is novel, with a panel-mounted shifter and an interesting vertically-oriented center stack console.

Advertisement

Oh, and you know what else? This thing is cheap as dirt! Here, look, this is the base model:

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

So, that 1,353,000 yen converts to about $12,775 American dollery-doos. That’s cheaper than anything new in the U.S. market, including a base-model Mitsubishi Mirage or a Nissan Versa.

Now, I’m not here to shit on the Mirage (I’ll do a bit of shitting on the Versa) but holy crap would I rather drive a Taft than either of those cars, or even many cars costing twice as much or more.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu

Even the top of the line 4WD one comes in under $15,000, which would still put it at the very bottom end of the American market.

Advertisement

Yes, yes, I know it’s a Kei car and too small for American tastes and blah blah blah. I don’t give a shit. This thing is still fun and fantastic.

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

Look at the little cargo-area table and the muddy-equipment-storage box! Those are great, and would be useful in actual living!

Illustration for article titled Holy Crap Theres A New Daihatsu Taft And Of Course Its Fantastic
Image: Daihatsu
Advertisement

We don’t get it here in America, we’ll never officially get it here in America, and while that hurts, I’m just happy there’s still small, fun, cheap cars out there in the world that don’t feel like poverty-punishments and are desirable on their own merits.

Keep it up, Daihatsu.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I love little things like this. I love reading about things like this. But the title of the article was confusing. Granted I'm 43, and I guess out of touch with the lingo of the kiddos. So I asked my kids what slaps meant (19 and 17), and they told me. But then added to it that no one uses that anymore and it's several years out of date.