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Daihatsu Copen: Buying guide and review (2002-2012)

Daihatsu Copen: Buying guide and review (2002-2012) Classic and Performance Car
The majority of Japanese cars built to Kei Car specifications tend to be boxy, quirky affairs. Cars like the Daihatsu Copen, however, prove that when a sports car is designed to comply with the tax-friendly regulations, the results are fun, cute and completely charming. 
 
The Copen was one of the longest-living open top Kei Cars, with production running from 2002 to 2012. After a brief hiatus, Daihatsu launched a second-gen model in 2014, with all-new styling, a greater scope for customisation inside and out, and much-improved fuel efficiency.
 
The two seat, 3.4 metre-long roadster’s party piece came in the form of its retractable hard top roof. Constructed from aluminium – as opposed to the steel used elsewhere in the Copen's body and chassis – the extra level of security and a weather protection make the Copen an ideal everyday sports car in the UK. As a result, it was officially imported to Britain from 2005, as well as many other international markets.
 
Though Kei car regulations restrict engine capacity to 659cc and 63bhp, outside of Japan the Copen was offered with a larger 1.3-litre naturally aspirated unit. While the Japan-spec model delivers fairly modest performance figures, the sub ten-second 0-62mph time of the larger engine helps the Copen to feel genuinely sprightly. 
 
Kerb weight sits at a miniscule 830kg, so regardless of which unit is driving the front wheels, there’s huge fun to be had by using the tiny dimensions and darty chassis to maintain momentum through the bends. Of course, one or two concessions need to be made for the tiny Copen. The ride is a little bouncy, and practicality will never be a strong point for a roadster comfortably shorter than a Citroen C1.
 
Which one to buy?
 
Early versions of the Copen were only offered with the Japanese market, 659cc turbocharged engine. It’s characterful and enjoyable to work hard, but for many, the 1.3-litre sold from 2005 onwards will be the better choice. With 86bhp and 89lb ft of torque, it covers the 0-62mph sprint in 9.5 seconds to the 659’s 11.3, yet achieving an official 47.1mpg, it’s 3mpg more frugal, too. The smaller engine was offered with a choice of manual or CVT automatic gearbox.
 
Equipment levels are generous, with air conditioning, electric windows and remote central locking offered as standard, while heated leather seats are a frequently-found option. The overwhelming majority of Copen owners choose to keep their cars unmodified.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine 659cc inline four
Power 63bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque 80lb ft @ 3200rpm
Top speed 106mph
0-60mph 11.3secs
Fuel consumption 44mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2230mm
Length 3395mm
Width 1475mm
Height 1245mm
Weight 830kg
 
Common problems
 
• Rust can be an issue for Japanese market cars – where roads aren’t salted during the winter – once they’re brought over to the UK. The most common place from which Copens sprout rot is the trailing edge of the rear wheel arches.

• Alloy wheels are known to suffer from corrosion, too. Refurbs should rarely set you back more than £60 per corner.

• Both engine types are generally reliable, though the 659cc needs regular oil services. The recommended intervals stand at every 3000 miles or six months

• Standard exhausts are known to have a weak point: the joint around the silencer is weak, leading to cracks and eventually leaking. As a result, many Copen owners have replaced the OEM system for aftermarket stainless units
 
Model History
 
1999: Daihatsu Copen Concept revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show
2002: Copen production begins 
2005: Update introduces 1.3-litre engine, produced for worldwide markets
2012: First-gen Copen production ceases
2014: Production of the second-gen Copen begins
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
www.copenworld.com/community
www.daihatsu-drivers.uk/
 
Summary and prices
 
With approximately 1,900 Copens still zipping around UK roads, the market offers plenty of choice, so there’s no need to panic buy the first one you find. Early turbocharged models are available for less than £2,000, enough to bag a good privately-sold example with around 60,000 miles on the clock. Similar cars are generally priced around £500 higher at dealers.
 
The more desirable 1.3-powered model start from around £3000, climbing to around £5-6000 for low-mileage late models. Barely a handful of the second generation Copens have reached the UK. The cheapest used versions start at around £8000, but import and type-approval costs would need to be factored in over and beyond that figure.
 
Words: Alex Ingram
Last updated: 24th May 2016
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Daihatsu Copen
2495 5995 GBP
  • Daihatsu Copen 2004 Turbo Convertible - Stand out from the crowd!

    £2,795 £2,795

    Stand out from the crowd with this superb little Daihatsui Copen Sports 659cc turbo-charged 66BHP convertible, with it's stunning looks and performance. Drives and handles superbly, 44 mpg, very nippy and has a top speed of over 100mph. Two previous owners (last owner owned for 7 years). Full-service history with 19, yes 19, service stamps in the book, the car has only covered 81k miles and has been serviced on average every 4,000miles. In superb mechanical condition, everything works exactly as it should.  Fully loaded with every conceivable extra. electric auto hard top, ideal for all seasons. UK car (not an import), full specification including leather heated sports seats, alloy wheels air conditioning, FM radio and CD player, electric mirrors, electric windows, fog lights Three keys and remote fob, all manuals as supplied when new. Unused tools and emergency tyre inflation kit. A very rare car that gets admiring looks and comments wherever you go and is fantastic fun to drive. Any test or inspection welcomed by appointment, this car has to be driven to be appreciated. First to see/ try will buy.

    • Mileage: 81000 mi
    • Engine size: 659
    For sale
    £2,795 £2,795
    FridayAd
  • Daihatsu Copen

    £2,995 £2,995

    Daihatsu Copen 659cc Roadster 2004 PlateNEW MOT on purchaseThe funky little Copen is one of the most affordable small convertibles around and great fun to drive too. Unusually for a car this small it features a metal-folding roof rather than a fabric hood, which means it is relatively quiet on the move and well-insulated from cold weather. It's diminutive dimensions make it easy to drive and a doddle to park in town.Rare and quirky sports car, 5 speed petrol 67bhp, 2 seater, low mileage 85k approx, red leather, retractable hard top roof in lovely condition, drives lovely, good on fuel. Momo steering wheel. Central locking, 2 keys, electric windows.Would make a great first sports car!Lots of other cars available, call 02392617444

    • Mileage: 85000 mi
    • Engine size: 659
    For sale
    £2,995 £2,995
  • Daihatsu Copen

    £3,480 £3,480

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Trip Computer, Power Steering, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Power Hood, ABS, CD Player, Central Locking, Front Fog Lamps, Heated Seats, Multi-Disc CD Player ONLY 48K,SERVICE HISTORY,FINISHED IN METALLIC SILVER,FITTED WITH RED LEATHER HEATED SEATS,ELECTRIC WINDOWS/MIRRORS, FITTED WITH 6 DISC CD PLAYER,ALLOY WHEELS,DRIVES SUPURB!

    • Mileage: 48000 mi
    • Engine size: 659
    For sale
    £3,480 £3,480
  • DAIHATSU COPEN TURBO 2005

    £3,500 £3,500

    Superb little Daihatsu Copen turbo with steel electric roof fresh import directly imported by ourselves from japan. In immaculate condition looks and drives great. Be the first uk owner. Will come with a new 12 months Mot.;Soon to be come a rare collectors car.;;ABS;Air conditioning;Alloy wheels;Body coloured bumpers;CD;Cloth seat trim;Driver`s airbag;Electric mirrors;Front electric windows;Front fog lights;PAS;Passenger`s airbag;Rear electric windows;Remote locking;Sports seats;Steering wheel rake adjustment;;ALL OUR CARS ARE HPI CLEAR COME WITH A 3 TO 12 MONTHS PARTS AND LABOUR NATIONWIDE WARRANTY FINANCE OPTIONS*FLEXIBLE VIEWING TIMES, OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK FROM 9AM TILL 9PM VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY ***NATIONWIDE DELIVERY***VISIT OUR WEBSITE www.bucksautomotives.co.uk PLEASE CALL ON 07405521052 we take any car in part exchange., 07405521052

    For sale
    £3,500 £3,500