The website urbandictionary.com, a website dedicated to all things slang and urban, defines the word ‘frontin’ as follows: ‘Urban slang. To put up a facade or make appearances, typically to impress or in some way deceive to maintain image. From ‘to front’.’And that was the first word that sprung to mind when I got the opportunity to spend a few days with Daihatsu’s box of tricks.
If looks are anything to go by, the little Materia looks tough, not 2Pac tough, more like Lil’ Wayne tough. With a 30mm dropped suspension courtesy of Eibach Progressive Racing springs and your choice of two 17-inch mag wheels, one finished in anthracite and the other in carbon black, gets the Materia off on the right foot, or is that wheel.With the combination of stiffer and lowered suspension, short throw gear shifts and direct steering the Materia delivers kart-like handling characteristics. Perfect for chucking into corners and general pocket rocket puerility. Adding to the ‘boy racer’ look you get tinted windows and a bonnet air scoop that hints at what lurks beneath the bonnet. And that’s exactly where the boxy Daihatsu houses most of its attitude and fun factor.
This limited edition, uniquely South African Materia, has a Japanese-engineered IHI turbocharger bolted to the standard 1.5-litre engine upping the power from 76 to 110kW at 5750rpm resulting in a top speed of 200kph. Impressive figures if you consider that a large percentage of its 190Nm of torque is found at around the 2000rpm mark. The guys at Daihatsu take their pimping seriously because the turbo is set up with a low boost, just 0.4 bar, this they say is to ensure reliability and prolong engine life. A microfueler was fitted to regulate the air fuel mixture throughout the rev range, special brake fluid to prevent overheating and for the right soundtrack, a stainless steel exhaust with a special catalytic converter. This little car is a real head turner, not just because of its looks but in keeping with its street racer, gangster frontin persona, this car sounds a Lil’ Weezy. No, not the rapper but rather due to an excessively active dump valve. With every gear change or touch of the accelerator, a habit-forming crazy hiss erupts from under the bonnet which results in bursts of insane laughter from inside the car.
No pimped out boy racer whip worth it’s salt is without some serious Ice. Ice being the slang term for sound, and the Materia has that sorted with a 1000W amp with subwoofer, additional extra of course, to feed the standard 6-speaker radio/CD/MP3-player. Other additional extras include a Momo steering wheel, a limited slip differential and high performance brake discs and pads. All the extras will add significantly to the price of R219 995, but think of how much fun you could have. As standard though you get Daihatsu’s 3-year or 100 000km warranty and service intervals is at 15 000km.
Sure you could get an Opel Corsa 1.6 Sport for that same money and power or a Fait Grande Punto 1.4 T-Jet Dynamic for a few rand less, but they won’t have as much space or grin inducing, character filled attitude as the Materia Turbo. I like it.
One thing though, I feel this car should come with a warning that reads: Caution: driving this car may result in your pants dropping considerably, your underwear showing and an uncontrollable urge to greet people with, Yo!
1495cc, 16v DOHC turbo 4-cyl, 110W @ 5750rpm, 190Nm @ 4800rpm
5-speed manual front-wheel drive
0-100kph 8.9sec, 200kph(limited), N/A/100km, N/Ag/km