Daihatsu is known for its product line of affordable and reliable small cars. If you’ve lived long enough to have seen the automaker’s products sold new here in the Philippines, then vehicles like the Charade hatchback and the Hijet van should be familiar. Even the brand’s current Japanese catalog consists mostly of light passenger vehicles such as the Tanto kei car. However, “mostly” is the key word here, because Daihatsu also sells something larger and a little more opulent.
It’s called the Daihatsu Altis. Remove the “D” logos and this thing is just the eighth-generation Toyota Camry. The carmaker, it seems, didn’t even make a considerable effort to make the Altis look like it’s a homegrown product with the car nowhere near distinctive when compared to its Toyota twin. And then, there’s the not-so-original name (we wonder where Daihatsu got that from).
While a Daihatsu midsize sedan is certainly unusual, the Toyota link is not. The former is a fully owned subsidiary of Japan’s largest automaker, so sharing and caring between the two companies is simply all in a day’s work. In fact, the Wigo, the Avanza and the Rush all have Daihatsu counterparts in Indonesia, namely the Ayla, the Xenia and the Terios. The carmaker is quite popular in the archipelagic state.
Deciphering the content of a poorly translated Daihatsu website, we think the Altis runs on a gasoline-electric powertrain called Hybrid Synergy Drive (no surprises there) with a choice of two-wheel drive or electric four-wheel drive. And while that’s not weird, what’s strange is that Toyota also sells the Camry in its domestic market. The reason for such an arrangement is probably something only God and Daihatsu know.
So, Toyota Camry or Daihatsu Altis?