Daihatsu has announced it has opened bookings for the Taft in Japan – the SUV-style kei car will go on sale in June, having been previewed by a near-production concept at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. Being more of a tall, rugged hatchback rather than an out-and-out 4×4 (as the Suzuki Jimny is), the Taft is closer in spirit to the Hustler and should provide some welcome competition.

The Taft moniker was first used on a 4×4 SUV introduced in 1974, where it stood for Tall & Almighty Four-wheel Touring Vehicle. Since this new one is likely to be offered as a front-wheel drive model (with optional all-wheel drive, as is usual in Japan), the backronym has been changed to Tall & Almighty Fun Tool.

Judging by the show car, the Taft will essentially be a production version of the WakuWaku concept that was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. It will sport a similarly buff front end, featuring octagonal headlights and a beefy bumper, plus boxy black plastic fender flares and an upright glasshouse. A slotted grille-like chrome appliqué, which gives the car a Jeep-like look, appears to be available as an option.

Unlike the WakuWaku, which had hidden rear door handles and orange panelling instead of rear side windows, the Taft will have regular pull handles. The leading edge of the rear windows will also be slanted to add some visual drama, while the tail lights will be C-shaped items with triple vertical blocks that mirror the front LED daytime running lights.

The cubic aesthetic will continue on the inside, with the concept exhibiting a blocky dashboard with vertical orange air vents. The centre console will be particularly striking, with an orange rectangle surrounding the right air vent (the left vent is horizontal) and gearlever. A touchscreen display panel will sit on top of the dash, and there will also be a large glass roof and what Daihatsu calls a “flat, easy-to-use luggage space.”

No technical details have been released, but the Taft should use the KF range of 658 cc naturally-aspirated and turbocharged engines to comply with kei car regulations. What do you think of it?

GALLERY: Daihatsu Taft Concept at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon