In 1989, the Japanese manufacturer Daihatsu introduced a compact vehicle named the Daihatsu Applause. The Applause remained in production until 2000. The car is known for its unique body style, i.e. although, it appeared to be a 4-door sedan, it was actually a 5-door liftback featuring a notchback-shaped 412-L trunk as well as a tailgate.
The Daihatsu, a subsidiary of Toyota emerged as a prominent figure to manufacture small or kei cars. The Daihatsu appeared to be the major producer of the compact vehicles. When it came to replace the popular Charmant, a unique approach was used to design a replacement vehicle with an intention to provide customers with a sedan that could also provide the comfort and suppleness of a 5-door body. This approach of the company eventually resulted in the formation of the Applause which was revealed for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in 1989.
As of debut year, the Applause’s fame suffered a great deal by a number of reported incidents of fuel spurting under extreme air pressure while refueling that could cause severe mishaps. The problem was rectified by the company for the 1990 model year and was introduced as Daihatsu Applause Theta.
A mild facelifted version was released in 1992. The changes were made particularly on the front and rear fascias. The length of the vehicle was also slightly increased. For the facelifted model, the company discontinued the ‘Theta’ suffix from the name. The company also dropped the carburetor engine. As of 1994, the 4-wheel drive version was ceased and the rear fascia and grille received minor revisions.
Initially, the Applause was considered very contemporary and up-to-date design regarding the prevailing market at that time in 1989. However, after remaining in production for about seven years in the market, it started appearing outmoded and relatively smaller compared to other freshly arrived compact vehicles. Economically, the Daihatsu saw it indefensible to produce an all-new model as a replacement vehicle, so decided to give the existing vehicle some excessive treatment so as to raise the dwindling sales.
The Applause was discontinued in the European market after the 1996 model year.
The renewed Applause was introduced at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The vehicle received an entirely redesigned front and rear fascias and a minor increase in the overall length. The rest of all the features remained almost the same as they were before going under extensive work.
Despite of the refreshed facelift, the vehicle failed to bring the required sales for the company as result of which the company ceased the production of Applause in May 2000 without announcing any replacement for it. However, the Japanese market received a rebadged Toyota Camry that replaced the Applause as an indirect replacement. The rebadged Camry served the purpose of larger sedan for the Daihatsu.
As for drivetrain, the Applause featured a FF layout with transversely-mounted engine. A full-time 4-wheel drive was available for initial few years. The engine offered in Applause was the Daihatsu’s HD 1589 cc straight-4 DOHC. Available transmissions were: a 5-speed manual, 3-speed automatic and 4-speed automatic.