A new entry model for Daihatsu was introduced at the end of 2005 to the Japanese market. It was named Esse which was derived from the world essential, reflected in the concept; a simple yet still fashionable mini-car. Daihatsu also marketed the Esse as Eco, Smart, Simple and Easy.
As a Kei-car, the Esse had very compact body dimensions and an engine of only 658 cc displacement. This 58 horsepower engine was connected to a 5-speed manual transmission in the most basic version called Eco which started at a price of under 700.000 Yen. It was also the only grade with a Start-stop system, thus achieving a high 26.0 km/liter on the Japanese test cycle.
Other grades were D, L and X, with the D being the mid grade, L the high grade and X the most luxury grade. The D & L grade had a 3-speed automatic transmission and the X grade a 4-speed automatic transmission. The X also had features such as retractable mirrors, automatic climate control and 13″ aluminium wheels which contributed to the additional price of around 250.000 Yen compared to the Eco. While all grades were front wheel drive as standard, the D, L and X grade could also be had with four wheel drive as an option.
In December 2006, a year after the introduction, some general improvements were made to all grades. An example being the material change on the engine mount to reduce vibrations. The grade L could also be had with the 5-speed manual transmission now. And a new grade called custom was added to the line-up. It was a higher grade aiming at male buyers with aerodynamic parts, aluminium wheels and black style interior. It could be had with the 5-speed manual transmission or the 4-speed automatic transmission.
The years following there have been several special editions and changes to the grades and available colors but a real minor or major model change was never done until the end of sales which was in September 2011. In total almost 215.000 units have been produced in almost 6 years. The successor of the Esse was the in 2011 introduced Miraise.
Click on the picture below to see the Daihatsu Esse details and specifications per year such as weight, new price and equipment for each version in the Goo-net.com catalog.