The compact Toyota Duet was designed by Daihatsu, a de facto subsidiary of Toyota. Duet hit the market in 1998. He was an exact copy of the Daihatsu Storia model in everything except the name and emblem. Duet is a 5-door hatchback with front-wheel drive and a 1-liter engine. Despite the fact that the technical characteristics and dimensions are almost similar to the Toyota Vitz, in terms of spaciousness and comfort, it is somewhat inferior to the latter. In the Toyota Duet of the first years of production (until April 2000), only one engine was installed - an atmospheric 3-cylinder with a volume of 1 liter.
The appearance of the Duet is very original. Rounded almond-shaped headlights give the exterior of this model a touch of uniqueness. Rounded body shapes also have characteristic features. The car was well equipped. In an expensive configuration, the standard air conditioning could be replaced by a climate control system, electric mirrors complemented the folding electric drive, seats with velor upholstery were equipped with armrests front and rear. Options included wood trim in the center console, ignition and pedal lights, CD or DVD player, navigation system, CD changer and powerful speakers.
At the start of sales, the Toyota Duet hatchback along with the Daihatsu Storia received the Daihatsu EJ-DE engine. This 3-cylinder unit of the DOHC type produces a maximum of 60 “forces” and 94 Nm of torque. It was equipped with a mechanical 5-speed or automatic 4-speed gearbox. In both versions, four-wheel drive was available. It should be noted that this engine in the initial phase of production at Toyota Duet remained the only one. While for the Daihatsu Storia in 1999, a 120-horsepower 0.7-liter JC-DET turbo was offered, with which the hatchback became really “hot”.
The main thing that was noted by the developers is the excellent maneuverability of this car: the turning radius was only 4.3 meters. In general, the chassis design included an independent front suspension and semi-dependent rear for front-wheel drive cars or dependent for all-wheel drive, disc and drum brakes (front / rear), power steering. With a body length of 3.66 meters, the hatchback has a width of 1.6 m and a height of 1.45 m, and its front and rear overhangs are relatively small. The dimensions of the passenger compartment are quite sufficient for a car of this class 1725 x 1330 x 1165 mm (L x W x H). The rear three-seater seat is divided asymmetrically, but in the basic configuration, the back folds up as a whole.
Toyota Duet was considered advanced in terms of safety. The body was developed using new technologies, with an increased content of high-strength steels and was equipped with built-in deformation zones, stiffening amplifiers in the doors. Vehicles of 1998-2000 were equipped with two airbags, anti-lock braking system with auxiliary braking function, seat belts with force limiter. For an extra charge, Toyota Duet could have installed side airbags. The emergency protection system included the function of unlocking locks and stopping fuel supply in the event of a collision, and the automatic inclusion of a light alarm.
Having very favorable body dimensions in terms of maneuvering, the Toyota Duet has an increased wheelbase, a cozy cabin, and a very practical luggage compartment. The hatchback has a simple and unpretentious suspension, good ground clearance. Duet is considered to be very economical, but the power of a 3-cylinder unit may not be enough on suburban roads (especially in the combination of an “automatic” and 4WD), so it makes sense to pay attention to models after restyling in May 2000, when the hatchback received a new 110-horsepower 1 , 3-liter "four", the capabilities of which are now enough "for the eyes."