In the first year in the market, Applause's reputation was tarnished by widely publicized incidents of gasoline spurting under excessive air pressure while refuelling, which could lead to very hazardous accidents. Daihatsu fixed the problem in the 1990 model, named Applause Theta, to highlight the improvement.
In 1992, the Applause was mildly facelifted, with a subtle alteration of the front and rear fascias and slight increase in length. The "Theta" designation was dropped. The carburetor engine was not available anymore. The 1994 saw the cancellation of the AWD version, rear fascia upgrade and slight grille alteration.
Although Applause can be said to have looked very modern and be at least on par with competition in terms of size back in 1989, after seven years in the market it began to appear quite dated and smaller than newer compact cars. Daihatsu found it economically unjustifiable to replace the car with an all-new model, but rather gave the car an extensive facelift in hope of reviving weakening sales.
The refreshed Applause debuted at the 57th Frankfurt Motor Show in September, 1997. Totally new front and rear fascias provided for a much more "formal" appearance, along with a small increase in length. However, the car remained the same with regard to all other measurements, including cargo capacity.
The facelift did not help sales result much, so the model was discontinued altogether in May 2000, without a direct replacement for export markets. In Japan, the Daihatsu Altis, which was in essence a rebadged Toyota Camry, took over its role as Daihatsu's largest sedan.
The Applause was a FF layout car with transversely-mounted engine. For some time, a full-time AWD version was sold.
Daihatsu HD 1589 cc straight four SOHC
- HD-F carburetor, 97PS (96hp/71kW) - 1989-1992 (domestic market)
- HD-F carburetor, 91PS (90hp/67kW) - 1989-1992 (Europe market)
- HD-E EFI, 120 PS (89 kW), 140N·m (103lb·ft) of torque - 1989-2000 (domestic market, compression ratio increased in 1997)
- HD-E EFI, 90 PS (66 kW), 123N·m (91lb·ft) of torque - 1992-1997 (export markets)
- HD-E EFI, 105 PS (77 kW), 134N·m (99lb·ft) of torque - 1992-1997 (export markets, FWD or AWD)
- HD-E EFI, 99 PS (73 kW), 138N·m (102lb·ft) of torque - 1997-2000 (export markets - replaced both former engines, increased compression ratio)