The Carchive: Daihatsu Applause

“Saloon, hatchback- or simply the best of both worlds?”
Yeah; that was it. The entire premise of the Daihatsu Applause was that it looked like a sedan but was actually a hatchback. And that’s it.
Thanks for reading. See you next time.
Really, the Applause was a pretty immemorable car, introduced to replace the Charmant; which wasn’t a very memorable car either. You may have never heard of it before, yet somehow it managed to remain in production for eleven years, with little change except to cure a slightly undesirable flame-thrower effect from the fuel filler cap.
In fact, this time around the brochure is more noteable than the car itself, mainly because of the awful, cringeworthy way it was written. Based around a first-person narrative,  it was written from the genteel perspective of a well-spoken couple taking a holiday in Jersey in their brand new Applause. And it’s absolutely hideous.
“Our destination was the Samares Manor Gardens; so I slipped the Pastoral Symphony into the radio/cassette. “Those people at Autocar & Motor are right” said Liz, “It has got a delightful gearchange.”
Shut up!
There was never really a harsh word said about the Applause in any of the reviews I ever read about it; considering the execrable nature of the cars it was pitched against (Ford Orion, Vauxhall Belmont) it was certainly not at a disadvantage in terms of quality or engineering. It was marred only by a total lack of charisma and complete stylistic invisibility.
And a terrible name. Applause. Rubbish. Should have called it the “Very Nice” or “Good Work”. Clearly the marketing department were in line for a “Must try harder. See me”.
Also, at the time of its launch, there was an apple flavoured Chocolate biscuit on the market, too, of the same name. And I seem to remember absolutely hating them.
“I was more than glad of the power steering and electric windows, I can tell you. And with such a squeeze getting out of the car, I blessed the central locking, too. Why don’t other cars of this size and price have such essentials as standard?”
Shut up!
The Applause was, indeed, well equipped. Electric windows surrounded you, alloy wheels could be had and there was a reclining rear seat. It was even quite quick, too, with a strangely precise 104.7hp to play with, and 115mph achievable as well as a sub-ten second dash to sixty. In some markets you could a 120hp mill and four wheel drive, and may we all now collapse in a state of fevered excitement.
“And of course that 12.9 cu.ft boot with hatchback is so logical, we wonder why no one’s thought of it before”.
Shut up!
I’ve never seen why it’s so clever, to be honest. I mean, fair enough if  saloon car looks are THAT much of a selling point, then you must do what you can to achieve them. But it’s just such a compromise. The hatch must have been incredibly heavy and high when fully opened, and the load space still no taller than in a sedan. Surely just having a conventional trunk lid but a set of folding rear seats would have been a better idea? You know, like everybody else does?
Mind you, Skoda are still doing it with the Superb, so maybe it’s my turn to shut up.
“We had to cut the the holiday short because I got a dose of genital herpes from that girl from room service, and Liz went off with the Maitre D’, I’ve not seen her for a week, the bitch”
One of my schoolteachers used to have an Applause, and somehow it matched her personality, or lack thereof, to a tee. I remember her one day telling everybody that she drove “a sports car” and when pressed for clarification on that matter, replied that “it’s got a rear spoiler”.
So the Applause; an inoffensive car for mundane people who didn’t really know what they were talking about.

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21 responses to “The Carchive: Daihatsu Applause”

  1. wisc47 Avatar

    It would be completely at home parked between a Buick Encore and a Fiat Bravo.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    The only applause I can imagine happening is when you tell your friends you've sold yours.

  3. Guillaume Avatar

    You mean the Renault Encore of course 🙂

  4. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Whenever I hear somebody mention a quirky, lackluster little of a car (or bike) such as this one — an unloved, unlamented, and largely forgotten footnote to automotive history — I want to find it, take it home, nurture it and make it all okay.
    I'm like the Humane Society for vehicles.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Same here. I own a Rover 825. Doubtless Mr Harrell will be along soon to join us.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I have no idea what you mean. All of mine are beautiful and well-loved.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      That should read "…little mutt of a car…"

  5. eggsalad Avatar

    Somewhat like the Chrysler P-bodies i.e. Sundance and Shadow. Mostly looked like a small trunk, but actually a hatchback.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I was going to say, Chrysler thought of that boot two years before Daihatsu did. That said, it was 13.1 cu.ft and not 12.9. Curse you, Mopar, for giving the P-Bodies 0.2 illogical extra cubic feet of space over the optimal 12.9!
      That said, it worked well enough for what it was. I'm not quite sure what the point of it was, but it worked fine, and the hatch wasn't notably heavy (isn't glass heavier than metal? If that's the case, these hatch-sedans benefit from their smaller rear window).

  6. Vavon Avatar

    Great write up as usual!
    Best line in the brochure: “We had to cut the the holiday short because I got a dose of genital herpes from that girl from room service, and Liz went off with the Maitre D’, I’ve not seen her for a week, the bitch”
    That cracked me up!

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      I think what he contracted was colloquially referred to as The Daihatsu Clap.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          The proper reply. On multiple levels.

  7. nanoop Avatar

    There's no disclaimer about whose brochures were photographed where. I like those. The car? O yes, the car, it's the very first hatchback ever, right?

  8. hwyengr Avatar

    I used to occasionally pick up the British buff books from the magazine stand. I don't remember the context, but Car once summed the Applause up with:
    "They may as well have called this car "The Clap", because it's just as much appreciated."

  9. MVEilenstein Avatar

    You really have to give them a hand for the effort they put into that brochure.

  10. racer139 Avatar

    All I can think of when I see this car is how amused I would be watching my wife at 4"9' trying to close the hatch. She would probably need to stand on the bumper.

  11. Fej Avatar

    Seems to me like this car more deserved the name "Charade"

  12. Devin Avatar

    I'm actually fascinated by the design of the Applause, because it's one of those rare cars that doesn't actually appear to have been styled at any point. It kind of looks like a testing mule, all the parts are roughly where they need to be and there are some holes cut in the front for cooling, but then it just went into production like that.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      It's like a video-game interpretation of a contemporary Toyota, created to avoid copyright issues.

  13. nofrillls Avatar

    Applause and Charade..
    Applause and Charade…
    Remember those cool little Daihatsu mini-trucks used for maintenance at zoos and amusement parks?
    That is how I will always lovingly, and quite selectively remember Daihatsu.
    No more, no less.