The Daihatsu Feroza is a four-wheel-drive vehicle classed as a mini-SUV. The Feroza, also known in other parts of the world as Sportrak and Rocky, has been very popular since its release. It remains sought after by off-roaders today for its short wheelbase, which is capable of keeping up with bigger off-road vehicles. The base model, produced in 1989-2002, has a chassis designation of F300. Daihatsu produced a variant in 1992, called the F310, after which both models shared the market alongside each other.
The Feroza had a front roof panel and a removable rear roof assembly, a feature that allowed it to have an airy, top-down feel and which was rare in SUVs of that era. A soft-top version was also available. It sits four people, including the driver.
The interior is a bit bare, but seating is comfortable even for the rear passengers. Access to the driver and front passenger seats is straightforward but getting into the back seat is a bit challenging - it's a three-door after all. The boxy exterior design and clutter-free interior afford good headroom for all occupants.
Starting the engine on cold days can be a bit of a challenge for the carburetted versions, but the injected ones are more up to the task.
First Generation Feroza F300, 1989-1992
First released in 1989, the Feroza ran on a 1.6L HD-1C engine with a displacement of 1,589cc producing 77 kW of power at 5,700 rpm with torque of 128 N⋅m at 4,800 rpm for the Japanese market and the detuned engine for export capable of 71 kW of power at 5,700 rpm with torque of 127 N⋅m at 4,800 rpm. Daihatsu Applause used this same base engine, which had a single overhead cam with 16 valves. The engines came with either carburetted or multipoint injection depending on where you buy it.
The engine teamed up with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The front and rear differentials received power through the transfer case for shifting to either 2WD, 4WD low or 4WD high through a separate gear lever on the floor. Some versions came with a lockable inter-axle differential for full-time 4WD without a shift selector.
With a weight of only 1,206 kg, the Feroza could achieve top speeds of 150 km/h and acceleration time for 0-100 km/hr of 13.3 seconds with the manual gearbox. Front independent double-wishbone and rear leaf springs with a live axle handled the suspension system, while discs in front and drums on the rear dealt with the brakes.
Interior appointments for this car are adequate but a bit bare, although better than the other mini-4WD offerings from other brands. The B-pillar is a roll bar, and another bar over the passenger seat came standard. The grab handle for the front passenger indicates the Feroza’s capabilities.
Second Generation Feroza F310, 1992-2002
A facelift done in 1992 introduced the chassis designation now known as the F310, but the F300 continued to be available in the marketed. The facelifted version received a modified front grille and new fender flares for a sportier look. The addition of flared fenders made room for the wider track of this chassis. Early models came with chrome grilles, which were eventually replaced by all-black units.
The F310 model differed from the base mostly in the interior materials, colour, and upholstery patterns. The seats were more comfortable and had a more car-like feel. The multipoint injection version was available for the base models. The Japanese market has discontinued the carburetted versions, although some countries continue to receive them.
Bertone Freeclimber II, 1992-1996
Bertone of Italy, a respected styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing company, released their version of the Feroza, fitting it with a BMW 1.6L M40B16 engine, a single overhead cam inline-4 cylinder with a 1,596cc displacement producing 73.5 kW at 5,500 rpm and torque of 143 N⋅m at 4,250 rpm. These were the same engines used by BMW in their 88-94 E30 and 90-94 E36 316i.
The interior on the Freeclimber 2 was a lot plusher than the Ferozas. The front grille was done in steel and sported dual round headlights on each side. It was available in either the soft-top version, resin hardtop or a resin hardtop rear that was a bit higher than the front and equipped with a small glass panel. The body also received a few modifications from the Bertone home in Italy.
Another version of the Freeclimber 2 known as the Blue Lagoon, named after a perfume by Nicolas de Barry, had a BMW 2,443 cc turbodiesel engine. It entered the market in 1989-1992, mostly selling in France.
With the Feroza’s dependable engine and sturdy ladder frame, a lot of them continue to run the roads daily. Their excellent off-road capabilities in a small but comfortable package make them well-liked in the off-roading community. With the capacity of its engine bay and Daihatsu’s affiliation with Toyota, a whole range of petrol or diesel engines is available for engine swaps, be it from Toyota’s livery or other brands as was done by Bertone.
Contrary to popular belief, parts for the Feroza are still widely available. Here are at Carpart.com.au, we can help you source the parts you need or even a whole car. We can assist and advise you in engine swaps. And when you decide to either sell your whole Feroza or as parts, contact us as we have a large number of followers reaching and helping out Australia's restorers, hobbyists and everyday drivers. We even ship overseas! Scroll through our website and if you don't see what you need, email us at email@example.com.