Britain’s Daihatsu distributor, the IM Group, has developed 1.3-litre ‘warm-hatch’ versions of its small Sirion hatchback virtually identical fuel economy to the standard 1.3 litre models along with ‘tax-busting’ emission levels.

With first deliveries due late September, the 108 PS Sirion Rally 2 manages an 8.1 second 0-60 mph time yet still gives 55.8 mpg on the EC extra urban cycle compared to 61.4 mpg for the EL/SL.

Reality check: most UK drivers manage fuel economy closer to the official EC urban figures which Daihatsu UK didn’t quote in a statement.

IM claims its four-wheel drive Sirion Rally 4 is actually slightly more economical than the factory-produced 4trak at 54.9 mpg on the extra urban cycle.

With CO2 exhaust emissions at 144 and 149.8 g/km respectively for the Rally 2 and 4, both cars qualify for a £100 12 month road-fund licence (rates are set according to CO2 output) and fall into the lowest 15% bracket for company car tax.

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Priced at £9,995 and £10,995 respectively, the Rally 2 and 4 feature extensive engine, chassis and braking modifications in the tradition of Daihatsu’s popular 1980s Charade GTti.

These permanent additions to the UK range were locally developed by Daihatsu’s technical department and Bedfordshire-based Auto Image Limited.

The engine has a new free-flow air filter plus a reprofiled exhaust camshaft giving faster, earlier and more prolonged lift.
The modified all-alloy four cylinder twin overhead camshaft engine now produces 108 PS (up 6PS) at 7,100 rpm and 94.2 lb ft torque (from 88.5) at 6,000 rpm.

Top speed for the Rally 2 is 115 mph and 112 mph for the Rally 4 with 0-60 mph times of 8.1 and 8.9 seconds respectively.

New, uprated front and rear springs are stiffened by 15% and the ride height reduced by 20 mm for sharper handling. Wheel and tyre sizes are 175/55 R 15 on seven-spoke alloy 15 x 6 ins rims.

Brake pads are changed to an uprated competition-type material, which complement the standard anti-lock brakes with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution).

Other improvements include a short-throw gearchange and leather-bound steering wheel and gear-knob, while standard equipment for both Rally 2 and 4 includes air-conditioning and a CD player.

Until the end of September 2002, all UK Sirions come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty plus roadside assistance – both transferable – and five years’ free servicing up to 60,000 miles (non-transferable).