Drive – Daihatsu Copen Used Car Review

8 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Daihatsu Copen Used Car Review
Daihatsu Copen

David Morley

Make DAIHATSU Model COPEN Insurance $812 (RACV, 40-year-old, rating-one driver, medium-risk suburb, $500 excess). Transmission/Driven Wheels Five-speed manual.

Nice curves, but little else

A quick glance at the Daihatsu Copen has the potential to convince that you’re looking at an Audi TT rival for a fraction of the money. But when you get up close, the Copen is smaller than just about anything else on the road, which raises safety issues as well making it impractical for big-framed or older folk, or long-distance driving.

The Copen was a bit of a wildcard for Australia when it was introduced in 2003, just a couple of years before parent company Toyota culled Daihatsu from local showrooms.

The Copen was also one of the few Kei class cars – designed to work as well as possible within Tokyo gridlock – that escaped the Japanese market for which they were designed.

Daihatsu has tried Kei and similar cars here before and may have figured the Copen might have had enough innate smarts to work here. It was wrong.

The Copen is just too tiny to be a whole lot of use.

Bigger folk will find the cabin cramped and there’s precious little space for luggage. It’s a strict two-seater, so forget about taking the dog if you’ve got a passenger.

Head room problems are banished as you lower the convertible roof, but with the roof on, the Copen can feel rather claustrophobic.

The Copen used an even smaller engine than that of the Charade and Sirion. It was a four-cylinder but to keep it within Kei class guidelines it displaced just 660 cc.

Daihatsu Copen

To make such a small engine viable, Daihatsu used a double overhead camshaft design, four valves per cylinder and even a turbocharger.

The end result was 50 kW of power and 100 Nm of torque, which is actually pretty darn impressive for such a small engine, but when fitted to the Copen it was just adequate.

A five-speed manual transmission was the only choice and a wise one because it allowed drivers to wring every last kilowatt out of the engine.

But the Copen’s biggest dynamic challenge was its lacklustre combination of ride and handling.

When pushed, it ran out of tyre grip in a hurry and ride comfort suffered so that crossing railway lines or speed humps became an exercise in gritted teeth and white knuckles.

If you can live with the leisurely performance and the poor ride and the idea of a too-cute convertible works for you, then perhaps the Copen has something to offer.

Beyond that however, there’s not a lot of talent on show.

Daihatsu Copen
Daihatsu Copen
Daihatsu Copen
Daihatsu Copen
Daihatsu Copen

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