With fuel rocketing in cost it’s difficult to understand why
the Australian motoring public is applauding the release of 6-litre pushrod
V8s and family car based performance vehicles weighting around 1800kg.
What we really should be getting
excited about are machines like this – the Japanese import 1990 Daihatsu Mira
No, you can’t do the macho thing and power-slide your TR-XX at 150 km/h but
it does give tremendous enjoyment, whippet-like performance and running costs as
close as you’ll get to a motorcycle.
The Japanese-market Daihatsu Mira TR-XX is currently available in very
limited numbers through www.yahoomotorsport.com.au This
particular example (with around 150,000km on the odometer and with some rust) is
being offered for AUD$3400 plus ADR-ing. With an on-road price somewhere around
4 grand, the go-fast Mira would make a terrific daily commuter with zing. It
also offers plenty of low-buck tuning potential.
The 1990 Mira TR-XX was the first Daihatsu Kei class vehicle to employ a ‘big
block’ 660cc engine. The 660cc 3 cylinder (coded EF-JL) uses a SOHC,
4-valve-per-cylinder head with a tiny IHI RHB31 turbocharger, top-mount
air-to-air intercooler and EFI. Power output is 47kW (the Japanese Kei class
limit) at 7500 rpm together with 92Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. It’s right up there
with other high-performance Kei engines from Suzuki and Mitsubishi.
The majority of Mira TR-XXs were sold with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The
manual ‘box is delightfully easy to use and the cable-operated clutch is very
light. A 3-speed automatic transmission was available as an option.
With drive to the front wheels via a viscous-type LSD, the Mira TR-XX has no
problems ripping to 100 km/h in under 10 seconds. The engine is
progressive and boost pressure never hits with a rush. The off-beat 3-cylinder
soundtrack and 10,000 rpm tacho add to the already abundant character.
Of course, the 660cc engine’s modest fuel consumption is a major drawcard – expect your TR-XX to return about 5.5 - 6 litres per
100km depending on conditions (about 3
times better than today’s popular V8s!)
The Mira is one of the few Kei cars to employ independent rear suspension
(most use a relatively crude beam axle). With a semi-trailing arm IRS and
MacPherson front struts (with sport-spec tuning), the Mira offers a relatively
comfortable ride and predictable handling. Understeer is the name of the TR-XX’s
game. Suspension travel is surprisingly generous – enough to handle speed humps
at well above the sign posted speeds.
The brakes - ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear – offer good
retardation and excellent pedal feel. Unfortunately, the pedals are set very
close together – something to be aware of if you wear bulky shoes or have large
feet. Interestingly, the non-assisted rack and pinion steering feels good in the
majority of driving but becomes quite heavy at parking speeds – however, the low
tyre pressures in our test car might be responsible for some of this.
Inside, the Mira TR-XX boasts attractive sports seats with generous lateral
support, a modern looking dashboard, tacho, air conditioning and a flat-bottom
steering wheel – F1 style! Cabin width is limited but headroom is generous. A
folding rear seat makes the TR-XX a 4 seater but, realistically, the rear seat
is for children or emergency use only. The rear cargo area is a very useable
size – and even better when you remove the rear seat to make it a 2-seater.
The upmarket Mira TR-XX Limited (as tested) is distinguished with power
windows and a fixed glass sunroof with a trimmed blind. These extras add about
10kg to the TR-XX’s 660kg base weight.
Pull alongside a V8 in your Daihatsu Mira TR-XX and you won’t receive many
flattering comments. Let’s face it - this is a shopping trolley with some sporty
add-ons. The standard TR-XX body kit comprises a rear spoiler (which borders the
tailgate glass), side skirts and a bonnet scoop for the intercooler. Cute 13
inch alloys (with 155/60 tyres) and a twin outlet exhaust warn people of those
bundled-up 47 kilowatts...
One of the biggest advantages of the TR-XX over other imported Kei cars is
The same L200 Mira chassis was sold locally in 2 and 5 door configurations
using a naturally aspirated 660cc or 850cc engine. The TR-XX shares the same
doors, quarter panels, glass and lights as the local 2 door while many
replaceable engine parts (such as filters and distributor cap) appear identical
to the local 660 NA engine.
We can also vouch for the 660cc turbo engine’s performance capabilities.
Given a free-flow exhaust, air intake and extra boost (in conjunction with a
fuel-cut override) you can expect to achieve a power gain of around 30
percent. This equates to 0 – 100 km/h times in the Eights along with terrific
in-gear performance and flexibility. We guarantee you’ll be able to put the wind
up a l-o-t of people! And these mods needn’t cost any more than a few hundred
dollars – a 2¼ inch press bent exhaust, modified airbox or K&N pod filter
and a pneumatic bleed arrangement for the wastegate line shouldn’t break the
bank. An upgrade intercooler is also a very good idea – the standard top-mount
unit is quite restrictive at increased power levels.
If you want to take things further, it’s relatively easy to fabricate a log
style exhaust manifold and fit an upsize turbocharger. With a big turbo and
plenty of boost you should whack in some bigger injectors (such as those from
the Daihatsu Charade GTti) and, together with some engine management mods,
you’ll be staring down the barrel of a 100+kW Mira! And keep in mind that
similar mods transform the TR-XX into a 13 second machine in Japan .
And you can still expect to enjoy fuel consumption around 6 litres per
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