Daihatsu Rocky 1990: Compact SUV for Off-road and Urban Use

In the automotive landscape of the 1990s, large SUVs dominated the roads. Born from the Japanese automaker, the Daihatsu Rocky emerged as a mighty contender. Now, let’s delve into the features that made the Daihatsu Rocky 1990 a standout in this era.

The History of the Daihatsu Rocky 1990

The Daihatsu Rocky has a rich history that spans several decades, marking the evolution of a compact and capable off-roader to a symbol of adventure and reliability. Let’s take a look at the detailed history of this vehicle.

1. The Origin (1984-1998)

The Story of the Daihatsu Rocky begins in 1984 with the introduction of the first generation, the F10 model, in Japan. This compact SUV features a distinctive boxy design, two doors, and a four-wheel drive system. At the time, it quickly gained popularity for its off-road capabilities and versatility.

The second generation of the F10 model is the F70 model, first introduced in 1987. The F70 is the export version of the Rugger in Japan. This iteration featured a more refined design and the availability of a four-door model. This F70 model continued to build on the reputation of its predecessor for off-road prowess and reliability.

2. The Global Expansion (1989-2002)

For global expansion, Daihatsu introduced the F300 model. In Japan, this model is also known as the Daihatsu “Lovibond” Rocky. In Europe and Australia, this model is called Daihatsu Feroza, because the name “Rocky” was already attached to the F70 model. 

Daihatsu Rocky 1990 refers to this F300 model. It has different names in other parts of the world since it has spread all over the world. The name Feroza is also used in Asia and Latin America.

Different from other countries, in Indonesia the “Feroza” refers to the model using a petrol-engined rear-wheel drive version of the Rugger, some people also call it “Taft”. In the UK, the F300 series was marketed as the Daihatsu Sportrak.

To avoid confusion, people often refer to the vehicle by factory model number, F300 or F310. The one featured flared guards, the F310 variant, was also marketed as “MkII Sportrak” or “Feroza II”.

3. Transition to Terios (2002-Present)

In 2006, Daihatsu took a bold step by rebranding the Rocky series as the Terios. The Terios retained the Rocky’s characteristics of a compact SUV but adopted a more urban-friendly design. It was leaning as a versatile crossover, blending city convenience and off-road capabilities.

4. The Rocky Comeback (2019-Present)

The Rocky name made a comeback in 2019 with a new model, namely the A200. This version marks Daihatsu’s commitment to the Rocky’s off-road heritage. Besides, this model featured a modern and stylish exterior, the return of the body-on-frame construction, improved fuel efficiency, and equipped with advanced safety features.

The Daihatsu Rocky 1990 Features

Since this article mainly focuses on the Daihatsu Rocky in 1990, below is the description of the vehicle.

1. The Engine

The Rocky has a similar engine to the Applause. It was a 1.6-litre HD-CIHD-E SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine. The Daihatsu Rocky 1990 offers manual and automatic transmission along with four-wheel or two-wheel drive. There is also a full-time 4WD with a lockable inter-axle differential version.

Outside of Japan, in Latin America, Europe, Australia, and most Asian markets, the F300 model was sold as the Feroza which was a made-up name, combining “ferocious” and “Rosa”. 

In Japan, this model power ranged between 55-77kW (74-103 hp; 75-105 PS). For the export version, it was usually fitted with a detuned version of the more powerful injected engine with 70 kW (94 hp; 95 PS) at 5,700 rpm. There was also a carburetted version, powering in 63 kW (84 hp; 86 PS) at 6,000 rpm.

The key feature that truly sets the Daihatsu Rocky apart is its off-road prowess. In addition to its robust suspension, it’s capable of four-wheel drive, and a great ground clearance ensures a smooth and controlled ride. 

2. Appearance

During the production of the Daihatsu Rocky 1990, the vehicle underwent only slight changes. Mostly, the modification encompassed just the grilles that are different from other cars. 

In terms of design, the classic two-door setup provided a sporty appearance. For urban use, the compact size of the SUV made parking easy. The 1990 Rocky was also available in an array of vibrant colors, making it stand out among other SUVs.

The taillights were originally designed on the bodywork of the cars. However, due to legislation introduced in some markets about the rear pivot door, some models were fitted with covers over the bodywork taillight spaces. Instead, enlarged rear bumpers were utilized to house the taillights on those versions.

Inside, the interior was designed for convenience and comfort, considering the car is prepared for off-road. You’ll also find that the spacious cabin accommodates four passengers. Furthermore, the dashboard layout of the Rocky was simple and functional. 

3. Electric Power

In 1990, a version called the Rocky EV was developed along with the Kansai Electric Power Company. After purchasing 26 of the models, they developed an electric-powered version with 20 kW (27 hp; 27 PS). This electric Rocky could run up to 90 km/h (56 mph) and 200 km range (124 mi).

4. Bertone Freeclimber II

A version of the Daihatsu Rocky 1990 was built under Italian manufacturer Bertone. The vehicle was powered by a different engine, namely a 1.6-litre BMW M40 with 73.5 kW (99 hp; 100 PS). 

This Italian version is called the Bertone Freeclimber II. It was popular particularly in France and Italy because it was unaffected by the quotas of the Japanese imports. There was also another version named “Blue Lagoon”.

The Impact and Legacy

While Daihatsu Rocky 1990 may not have achieved the mainstream success as some of its counterparts, it has made a noticeable impact in the compact SUV segment. The Rocky carved a niche for itself by blending off-road capability and urban practicality. 

Its enduring legacy is evident in the continued admiration and nostalgia expressed by collectors and enthusiasts alike. It’s the fact that makes Daihatsu feel the need to revive the name “Rocky” in its newest line of cars.

Learn More about the Daihatsu Rocky 1990!

With its distinctive design, off-road prowess, and enduring reliability, this iconic vehicle has left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who experienced its charm. Beyond its contribution to the automotive landscape in the 1990s, this vehicle also serves as a symbol of adventure and exploration.

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