Here in America, we like our vehicles big and fast, and god help anyone that gets in their way. But over in Japan, things aren’t quite so menacing — their cars are smaller, happier, more fun. Out there, the keijidosha reigns supreme, with boxy vans putting every cubic centimeter allotted by regulations to full, practical use.
But what if kei cars could be even better? How can you improve on such meticulous engineering, such practical-cute styling? It seems Daihatsu has found a way: add some overland aesthetic flair, and call your car the Tanto Fun Cross.
Motor1 introduced me to the Fun Cross earlier today, and it’s been stuck in my mind ever since. Let’s run down the words in its name, just to show that it is in fact perfect. First, there’s “Tanto,” which as we all know is a small sword once carried by samurai alongside their longer tachi (I’m sorry, did you not have a samurai sword phase as a youth?). Then we get “Fun,” a refreshing term in a world full of vehicles always aiming to out-anger each other. Finally, there’s “Cross” — and this little car truly does cross boundaries, with its focus on off-road excursions.
Sure, the standard Tanto will get you much of the same equipment — either a naturally aspirated three-cylinder making 51 horsepower or a turbo three putting out 63, each paired with a CVT and two- or four-wheel-drive — but the more road-biased models miss out on the Fun Cross’s chunky bumpers and plastic side cladding. Yeah, the cladding is good. If the Citroen Cactus can be praised for it, why not Daihatsu too?
Unfortunately, as the Fun Cross is a kei car, we’ll never see it in the United States. Unless, that is, someone imports one in 2047, when they become legal under the 25-year import law. If you see me setting a timer, just mind your own business.