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View the cars in our AutoRoadTests Fleet Search Visit our Forum   Contact Us at Daihatsu Copen 1.3 Lux RoadtestDate:18/10/2007   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests Daihatsu Copen 1.3 Lux Roadtest

Copen 1.3 Lux

Can it Copen ?

The Copen first appeared at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. It appeared again in 2001 and finally went on sale in Japan in spring 2002 virtually unchanged from the original show car. Since then, it has developed an enthusiastic cult following, even in Germany where it was originally only available in right-hand drive.

The car made itís way into the UK market in 2004 after the UKís importer (Daihatsu Vehicle Distributors Limited) persuaded the factory to re-engineer the tiny 660cc turbo engine to comply with European Whole Vehicle Type Approval.

There is something about the Daihatsu Copen Iím not sure why but Iíve wanted to get my hands on one for quite some time. So when Daihatsu announced that they were refreshing the car in spring 2007 I had to try one. The main change was the adoption of the 1.3 engine from the Sirion supermini, this ups power and torque, improves performance and also lowers the all important emissions. Daihatsu has also upped the antie by reducing the price too, now a full £2,500 lower, now just £10,995.

Iíll admit upfront that if youíre a red-blooded male you may be questioning this desire to drive the Copen, but trust me if you can swallow your testosterone long enough you might be surprised.

Exterior Styling

The first phrase that comes into your mind with the Copen is that itís cute. There is no denying itís small dimensions and curvy lines Itís even a word used in the press pack.

From the front the car has a happy face, itís wide front grill looking remarkably like a smilling mouth. Combine this with the headlights that look like eyes and itís indicator / fog lights that look like the blushing cheeks, that youíd sometimes find on clowns and finally even the Daihatsu logo looks a bit like a nose. One word cute.

Friendly & cute styling, virtually no overhangs.
Good looking with roof up or down.
From the side the car resembles the Audi TT or the Ford Street Ka. Both of which are themselves well liked and effective designs. You also see the main visual difference from the original Copen, the addition of the boot lip spoiler, which along with a range of new colours are the only changes over the original model. The spoiler works for me in that it balances out the looks making the front and rear look in symmetry.

The car looks as good with the roof up as it does down too thanks to the folding hard tops shape that doesnít feel as awkward as some other convertibles on the market. The shape is simple and as well as the symmetry you canít help noticing the minimal overhangs front and rear which bode well for the carís handling.

With the roof down you eye is drawn to the internal eye candy, the tops of the red leather Recaro seats and the chrome roll bars that sit behind them. Our test car is gun metal grey and the red seats are a perfect combination. As is true with the roof up, the shape remains in balance too.

The rear has a very similar look to the front; instead of the grille the rear number plate takes the place of the smiling mouth, It has the same double lights (eyes, cheeks) and nose (badge) but crucially stops there and avoids any push-me-pull me confusion thanks to the rear spoiler and big twin pipes mounted towards the centre of the car. Again the internal eye candy adds the top down looks, but now you can see the glass wind deflector that is in between the chrome roll-over loops. A final flourish is the Copen badge on the right hand side of the rear which is suitably stylish and matches the cars looks.

If we take a minute to talk about the cars dimensions youíll get some idea of the carís diminutive scale. Comparing itís length to all the cars that we hold on our database then it is comfortably shorter than every hatchback nearly 20 cm shorter than the first BMW Mini, in fact only the track cars are similar, with the Ariel Atom being 3 cm shorter. Itís wheelbase compares to that of a Caterham, which iis promising. Width wise though the Copen is easily the winner, measuring a full 10cm less than even the Caterham.

If you're still struggling to picture this I have a number of observations that may help; I was sat at a traffic light and a Harley Davidson pulled up behind me and I felt small! Similarly I pulled up behind a Smart Fourtwo and again felt small! None of which is a surprise given that the car qualifies as a Kei-car Ďmini-carí in Japan.

Overall then the car is a good looking, small convertible with or without the roof in place. At this price it also offers a stylish alternative to some very ordinary machinery.

Interior Styling

I think it was Jeremy Clarkson who sat in the Copen and his head cleared the roof by a good few inches. This was my biggest worry with the Copen, would I fit ? At 6ft 1" I wasnít quite sure.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I first climbed into the copen and slid into the long slung Recaros. Not only did I fit but baring my spiky hair (which did touch the roof), I felt anything but cramped. Ok Iíll admit there are not huge amounts of room inside, but crucially you donít really miss it or feel cramped.

Good layout and certainly no shortage of spec.
The seats slide back sufficiently to be very comfortable in terms of legroom, although I did find one potential issue with having the seats completely back. You trap the seat belt such that it canít recoil and at one point I almost had the belt around my knees trying to activate the recoil that was before I realised the issue and moved the seat fractionally forward to resolve things. It was a slightly worrying moment as I was travelling down the M1 at the time.

The driving position is good, the driverís well is narrow but there is just enough space to slid your foot alongside the clutch pedal when you are cruising. The Momo wheel is, not surprisingly, well sized and comfortable, although the two tone, black with red leather whilst matching the rest of the cars interior can be a little much first thing in the morning. The wheel itself can be altered for reach.

The gear stick is short and topped with a chrome solid ball, which feels comfortable in the hand.

Overall the interior is well laid-out and features nice touches like the sculpted air vents and tri-cowled dash unit. The quality of the plastics is not the best but given the cars features and price it is well inline with what weíd expect. Add to that the use of Red Leather on the seats, door inserts and the steering wheel it is a nice place to be and I struggle to think of an equivalent car youíd get that feeling from for the money.

The car gets a Clarion front-loading CD / stereo, and the spec level is good with air conditioning; heated leather seats; electric windows, mirrors and not forgetting the electric folding hard top roof.

Storage space is obviously at a premium on such a small car but you have compartments in between the seats in the lift up arm rest, the lockable glove box, a new behind / between the seats and final a small pocket in the doors, the later being quite tight and not a great place to your mobile as it may prove awkward to get it back out again.

Ride, Handling & Steering

The Copen is a bit of a surprise on the move, or rather it does live up to my expectations. Thanks to its low kerb weight 850Kg, minimal overhangs and low centre of gravity the car has good stability whilst remaining agile.

Small, light and agile.
Roof up or Roof down the car feels rigid with none of the flex that youíd associate with a convertible. This is thanks to anti-roll bars front and rear as well as substantial cross-bracing under the floorpan.

There is some tyre roll, something Iím not too used to these days as the side profile is 50. This doesnít detract from the overall experience though and under most circumstances the car remains neutral even when cornering hard.

In fact the Copen can be quite good fun and we particularly liked that you could provoke some lift off oversteer, where situations allow, in the knowledge that it was quite easy to control.

Unlike some small cars it also feels stable at speed and didnít display any bad characteristics like feeling light at the front.

Steering wise the Copen retains hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion to ensure greater feel and sensitivity. In practice this gives you the confidence to corner a little faster and general enjoy the car more.

The ride is on the whole quite good although those expecting a smooth ride wouldnít necessarily always get it, on certain road surfaces such as concrete motorway / dual carriageway you can really feel the bumps. However the handling payoffs certainly out-weigh any ride negatives.

Engine, Gearbox and Performance

The Copen gets a 1.3-litre (1, 298cc) engine with twin overhead camshafts and DVVT. Peak power is 85.8 bhp (87 PS / 64 KW) at 6,000 rpm, the car redlines at just under 7,000rpm. Peak torque is 88.5 lb ft (120 Nm) and is achieved at 4,400 rpm.

1.3-litre gives 85.8 bhp and 88.5 lb ft
or 100 bhp/tonne and 100 lb ft/tonne.

Factor in the carís weight and the power to weight figure is 100bhp/tonne with itís torque figure being a similar 100 lbft/tonne. To put that in perspective that is the same figures as for a Lancia Delta HF Turbo. In terms of the Copenís official performance.0-62mph is achieved in 9.5 secs and has a top speed of 112mph.

What does that feel like on the road? Well the Copen certainly doesnít feel lacking on the open road. It has plenty of oomph and is more than capable to keep up with todays traffic. The car accelerates well and when we were able to test the top speed it is capable of achieving this speed with the roof up and down.

The gearbox is good with a relatively short throw and good action. During the test we find the change was bang on every time. We also didnít feel short changed by only having 5 gears. The car is well geared and the box seems to match the engine well.

Braking wise the car has adequate stopping power thanks to 246 mm ventilated front brakes and 180mm rear drums. The car also gets ABS as standard in combination to EBD (Electronic brakeforce distribution) which further avoids the locking-up of individual wheels during severe braking.

We were impressed with the Ďgoí of the Copen which was more than weíd expected and certainly not as cute as itís looks.

Our own tests (carried out with excessive ballast Ė two stapping lads or an extra 195kgs!):

Acceleration0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100
Daihatsu Copen 1.3 (2 (07 - ))(9.3)
Daihatsu Copen 1.3 (2 (07 - ))
(3.88)(5.49)(7.76)(10.33) (14.08)(19.94)(26.70)
* all tests are carried out on private roads. does not condone exceeding the speed limit on public roads.


As with most convertibles the word practicality is a mute one. However one card that the Copen is able to excel on is economy and emissions.

47.1 combined mpg = 140 g/km. Longer service interval.
3 years warranty and road side assistance.
The car's official economy figures are:
Mpgurban (mpg)extra urban (mpg)Combined (mpg)
Daihatsu Copen 1.3 (2 (07 - ))(36.7)(56.5)(47.1)

Our own tests seemed to reinforce these figures, which given we drove the car hard suggests that 50mpg is definitely achievable.

Emissions wise the car has a figure of just 140 g/km. In addition the Copen takes advantage of the worldís first self-regenerated catalyst. This was first launched in 2005 on the Sirion 1.3-litre, the system effectively extends the life of the catalytic converter, reducing maintenance costs and is therefore kinder to the environment as it keeps the catalyst Ďhealthierí over a higher mileage meaning the carís emission should not increase as the engine becomes older, like other cars will.

As weíve discussed the carís interior is big enough for real men to drive. In comparison the boot is a little small, especially with the roof down. With the roof up and taking use of all the space and thus preventing the roof from being taken down you should be able to fit a fair amount in if you make use of the wide shallow boot. However with the roof down not only is space considerably reduced so is access meaning you may need to put the roof back up to get things out from underneath.

The Daihatsu doesnít disappoint in terms of safety either with twin front airbags, dual side-impact door beams and extensive underfloor bracing. The floor panel itself benefits from three different steel thicknesses for progressive, energy-absorbing deformation. The twin chrome roll-over bars are mounted on top of the cross-member (which itself links the left and right centre pillars) for extra protection in the event of the car rolling.

The Copen also features an impact-sensing system which acts as an emergency device by automatically unlocking the doors following an accident and activating the hazard flashers and cutting off the fuel supply.

In comparison to the previous 660cc model the car now only needs an oil change at 9,000 miles vs. 3,000 miles before. This should help reduce running costs.

The car gets a three year unlimited mileage warranty plus three year roadside assistance and six years anti-perforation cover.


The on-the-road price for the Copen 1.3-litre is a very reasonable £10,995 with only 3 additional options available Ė metallic paint £325, Recaro seats £895 and Leather pack £500. The latter consisting of heated Leather Seats, leather door trim and Momo steering wheel. With the full specification, as our test car demonstrates, the total price is just £12,715. That is a lot of small car for the money.

The list of cars that can be bought for the same money is not a particularly exciting one, in fact the Mini is about the best alternative with the Mini One convertible at £13,600, A Nissan Micro convertible costs £13,500 for the 1.4 Ubis. Peugeotís 207 CC is a pricey £14,795 in 1.6 sport guise. A Smart Fortwo convertible costs less (£10,030 for the Passion version)

You could buy most of the Renault Clio range (barring the Renaultsport 197) for similar money. A Suzuki Swift 1.6 Sport costs £11,499. A Toyota Yaris including the 1.8 VVT-i-SR which costs £12,995. Any Vauxhall Corsa (again barring the VXR model).The VW Polo upto the 1.6 Sport (which costs £12,535). Other cars are like the Citroen C2 and C3s and the Chevrolet hatchbacks. Fiatís Punto and Panda. Fordís Ka and Fiesta.

In fact that list is pretty long however nothing has the individualism of the Copen and certainly will struggle to have levels of spec.

Combine that with the fact that residuals seem strong, a quick check of Autotrader shows 61 Copens for sale and of those 11 are 2007 models (with the new 1.3-litre ones) and the cheapest being £10,695. Of all the Copens including the first generation 660 turbo model the cheapest is £6,495 for a 27,500 mile 2003 model.

I liked the Copen before Iíd even driven it. Thankfully my experience of the car did nothing but reinforce this and I think it is exactly the sort of car us motor enthusiast should applaud.

Final Verdict: Be different, be bold buy a Copen..

Quick Section Links:†††††††††
1. Background
2. Exterior Styling
3. Interior Styling
4. Ride, Handling and Steering
5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
6. Practicality
7. Conclusion

Related Links:†††††††††

Full Set of Photos taken during the test

Daihatsu's UK website



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