Kei Car

Subaru Launches Daihatsu-Built Pleo Plus

Subaru's new kei car - Japanese for city car - is a rebadged Daihatsu.

Kei cars are small, but they're big business in Japan. Even though they're rarely sold outside of the island nation, Japanese automakers develop these cars specifically for local consumption. Only by "develop", in this case, we mean rebadge a competitor's. The car in question is the Subaru Pleo Plus, which Subaru has arranged to sell as its own version of the Daihatsu Mira. That model has been on the market in three- and five-door body-styles since 2006.

Now it has been launched with Subaru's badge on the nose and the Pleo name on the tailgate. The diminutive hatchback is powered by a 650cc three-cylinder engine that drives just 51 horsepower to the front wheels (all-wheel drive is optional) through a continuously-variable transmission. Stop/start ignition and regenerative braking further help fuel economy, but with a car this small, it's bound to barely sip from the gas tank. Of course, following the BRZ/GT-86 venture, this isn't the first time which Subaru has cooperated with Toyota. Since 1999 Toyota has owned the majority of Daihatsu, which stands as Japan's oldest automaker.

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