2002 - 2011 Daihatsu Copen Convertible Review

Sure, it's odd, but in typical Japanese style the engineering behind the Copen is impressive, and it's rather amusing to drive.

Review

INTRODUCTION:

A tiny, folding hardtop roadster that looks like a refugee from Noddy's Toytown might be a niche too far for many, but the Daihatsu Copen shouldn't be written off entirely. Sure, it's odd, but in typical Japanese style the engineering behind it is impressive, and it's rather amusing to drive, too.

MODEL RANGE:

Why so small? The Copen is designed to Japanese 'kei car' requirements, their tiny footprints working in Japan's congested cities, giving their owners some tax breaks, too. The usual result of such stringent dimensional restrictions is a space-efficient box, but the Copen is all about having fun, Daihatsu creating a tiny sports car with a folding aluminium hard-top.

The rest of the specification is equally interesting, the European offering's engine being a 1.3-litre 16-valve petrol four-cylinder unit, while Japanese models come with a four-cylinder 699cc turbocharged engine. EU cars came with a five-speed manual gearbox only, while Japanese cars were also offered with a four-speed automatic.

Unsurprisingly, its tiny size and huge compromises that result mean tiny sales, so the Copen is a real curiosity in Ireland. Indeed, if you can find one to buy you'll be unlikely ever to come across another. Production ceased for European models in 2011 and while a second generation car exists, there are no plans to ever bring it to Ireland.

BEST BUY:

There's only one, and there's only a handful of them around. You'll need to be a committed buyer to find one.

THE NUMBERS:

Daihatsu Copen

Engine: 1,298cc four-cylinder petrol

Power: 87hp

Maximum speed: 180km/h

0-100km/h: 9.5 seconds

Fuel consumption: 6.0 litres/100km
GOOD POINTS:

  • Individual
  • Fun
  • Folding hard top

BAD POINTS:

  • Tiny and compromised
  • Interior plastics shiny and hard
  • Parts availability

SUMMARY:

The Copen is a fairly unique proposition, which means it's rare in Ireland. You'll either love it or loathe it, though if you're in the former camp then the Copen's undeniably fun and interesting. For everyone else it's an anomaly too far...