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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
1985 5995 GBP
  • DAIHATSU COPEN ROADSTER 2007

    £2,995 £2,995

    2007 DAIHATSU COPEN 1.3 ROADSTER CONVERTIBLE FINISHED IN BRIGHT SILVER METALLIC PAINT WITH A CONTRASTING DEEP RED LEATHER INTERIOR;JUST 63,091 GENUINE MILES FROM BRAND NEW AND IN SUPERB CONDITION THROUGHOUT ;;5 Spoke Alloy Wheels;5 Speed Manual Sports Gearbox;ABS Braking;Full Heated Red Leather Interior;Remote Central Deadlocking , Immobiliser and Alarm System;Air Conditioning with Air Recirculation Facility;Original Factory Fitted Clarion CD Player Present;Electric Windows and Mirrors;Leather Trimmed Red and Black "Momo" Sports Steering Wheel;Power Assisted Steering;Adjustable Steering Column;;GREAT VALUE AND RARE LITTLE ROADSTER ALREADY BECOMING COLLECTABLE;SUPPLIED WITH ALL HANDBOOKS / MANUALS AS RECEIVED WHEN NEW , X2 SETS OF KEYS , CLEAR HPI REPORT , VERY LONG MOT WITHOUT ADVISORIES AND AN UP TO DATE 9 STAMP FULL SERVICE HISTORY RECORD PLUS INVOICES AND OLD MOT'S;LAST SERVICED AT 61,752 MILES IN SEPTEMBER 2017 AND PROFESSIONALLY WAXOYLE'D IN NOVEMBER 2014 ( CERTIFICATE PRESENT ) ;THE VERY BEST AVAILABLE AND READY TO DRIVE AWAY TODAY;LOW RATE FINANCE AND EXTENDED WARRANTIES AVAILABLE ;CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED

    • Mileage: 63091 mi
    • Engine size: 1.298
    For sale
    £2,995 £2,995
    Sell us the Car
    0161 654 9065 View contact number
  • DAIHATSU COPEN 0.7 TURBO ROADSTER 2006

    £2,475 £2,475

    HERE WE HAVE A NICE EXAMPLE OF THE RARE DAIHATSU COPEN HARDTOP CONVERTIBLE WITH A 659CC TURBOCHARGED ENGINE. THIS IS A GREAT LOOKING CAR 5 SPOKE ALLOY WHEELS IN METALLIC SILVER WITH CONTRASTING RED LEATHER HEATED SEATS, SPECIFICATION IS GOOD ALSO WITH ELECTRIC WINDOWS, POWER FOLDING HARDTOP, AIR CONDITIONING FULL LEATHER, RADIO CD PLAYER. IT HAS SOME SERVICE HISTORY AND WILL BE SERVICED PRIOR TO SALE, THE MOT RUNS UP TO THE 20TH OCTOBER 2018. GREAT VALUE LITTLE CABRIOLET WITH SOME SIGNS OF AGE BUT VERY MUCH REFLECTED IN THE PRICE.;;WE OFFER FULL DEALER FACILITIES INCLUDING FLEXIBLE FINANCE PACKAGES, AA BACKED WARRANTIES AND PART EXCHANGE. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE A VIEWING PLEASE CALL 01451 844271.

    • Mileage: 72670 mi
    • Engine size: 659
    For sale
    £2,475 £2,475
  • 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