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The Daihatsu Mira (also known as the Cuore, Domino, and more recently Charade), is a kei car-type vehicle built by the Japanese car maker Daihatsu. It comes with a variety of options and chassis variations, with the latest variant having four models: "Mira", "Mira AVY", "Mira Gino" and "Mira VAN". The Mira is the latest successor to the line of cars begun with the Daihatsu Fellow of 1966 and was originally introduced as the commercial version of the Cuore. Outside of Japan, the Mira has also been offered with an 850 cc engine. In Australia, the two-seater version was known as the Handivan and was later renamed as just Handi.

History

The Daihatsu Mira and Cuore replaced the Daihatsu Max Cuore in July 1980. This was replaced by the second generation (L70) of the Mira/Cuore which was introduced in 1985. The fourth generation (L500) was introduced in 1994 and was still based on the same chassis as the third generation (L200). October 1998 saw the fifth generation (L700) introduced, the sixth generation was introduced in 2002 (even though the Mira Gino (L700) remained in production until 2004), and in 2006 the seventh generation model was introduced.

L55 series (1980)

In July 1980, the Daihatsu Mira and Cuore arrived to replace the Daihatsu Max Cuore. A certain amount of confusion arises from the fact that this, the L55-series, was the first generation Daihatsu Mira but is considered the second generation of the Cuore.

The L55 series was sold with two main engines: the two-cylinder AB10 unit of 547 cc, and the slightly larger 617 cc AD unit which was only for export. They both featured twin balancing shafts, producing a smoothness and silent operations on par with a traditional four-cylinder engine. In tests, the 617 cc version of the car received plaudits for its refinement as well as its "lively" character and "enthusiastic" performance when compared to European competitors such as the Fiat Panda 30 and the Citroën Visa Club, both also with two-cylinder engines. The main issue was cost: the balance-shaft equipped bicylinder supposedly cost as much to build as a conventional four-cylinder engine. The car was also commended by Quattroruote for its agile city driving characteristics - although it could hardly be considered fully fit for the autostrada. The 30 PS (22 kW) "big" version has a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph).

Michelotti used this generation Cuore as the basis for the "Michelotti PAC" prototype (Personal Automotive Commuter) shown at Geneva in 1985. The L200 variant (1990–92) had two engine sizes: a three-cylinder 660 cc engine with 40–64 PS (29–47 kW) was available in Japan, while in Australia and other parts of the world a bigger-hearted variant with a 847 cc and either a four or a five-speed manual gearbox was used. The L500 Mira is the first kei car from Daihatsu which offered a four-cylinder 660 cc engine.

L70 series (1985)

The second generation (L70) Mira/Cuore appeared in August 1985. It had a longer wheelbase and a new generation of three-cylinder engines replacing the previous two-cylinder (AB) versions. Displacement of the new EB engines remained exactly the same, at 547 cc. For the export versions an 847 cc three-cylinder was developed, called ED-10. In September 1986 a special version for the Swiss market appeared, with a narrower bore version displacing 796 cc (called ED-10A). Unlike the fractionally larger standard version, this one suited the four tax horsepower category in certain cantons, while other cantons had prominent tax limits at 800 cc.

As for the domestic Japanese market versions, there were commercial versions (Mira) sold alongside passenger car versions (Cuore). The commercials had temporary rear seats which fold completely flat, and are easily recognized by luggage rails in the rear side windows. As for the previous generation, a version with switchable four-wheel drive was available for the "Van" version (chassis code L71V). The engines were originally carburetted, and either naturally aspirated or turbocharged (with intercooler). These offered 38 PS (28 kW) and 52 PS (38 kW) respectively. The turbo version was only available as a Mira (three-door commercial), and was introduced two months after the regular version. Transmissions were either four- or five-speed manuals, with a two-speed automatic also available for the atmospheric versions.

In January 1986, a five-door "Van" (Mira) version was added. A "Walk-Through Van" version, using the regular bonnet combined with near square rear bodywork, appeared two months later. In August 1987, the Mira/Cuore received a minor facelift with a new grille and bonnet, as well as some other detail changes all making for a smoother appearance overall. Two months later a permanent four-wheel-drive version was made available in the turbocharged version. After having undergone another minor change in October 1988, Japanese production of the L70 series ended when the new 660 cc L200 version was introduced in March 1990 in response to new regulations for the kei class. This also marked the end of the division of the line into Mira and Cuore, as the Cuore nameplate was retired in Japan with the introduction of the new model.

Daihatsu's Thai arm carried on producing the L70 series after it was replaced in Japan. In addition to the regular version, they also developed a ute version for the pickup-hungry Thai domestic market from 1991 to 1995, called Mira P1. This was built with a pickup bed, tail gate and redesigned taillights. Coming full circle, and mirroring the development of the SUV, Daihatsu also developed the Mira P4: a roofed four-seater wagon version of this micro-ute. Some P4s retained the pickup's fold down tailgate, adding a top-hinged glass, while some had a top-hinged one-piece tailgate. Later, there was an extended cab 2+2-seater ute ("Daihatsu Miracab") and also a hatchback with an enlarged rear end, called the "Mint". While using the smaller engines as per the Japanese market, these were too long to be classified as true kei cars.