Suzuki Cappucino, the Japanese had forgotten how to build a sporty and
fun K-car. Overcrowded in the streets of Tokyo are all
boxes. You can hardly name the differences between a Mitsubishi
and a Honda Life. Now Daihatsu finally injected a new lease of life
the K-car segment with the Copen.
What makes the
that Copen is the world’s cheapest car with retractable metal roof.
technology was pioneered by Mercedes SLK (Honda CRX Del Sol was Targa
than fully retractable) and has been copied by 206CC, Lexus SC430 and
own SL. It is increasingly more popular, especially when production
is falling. Last year, Peugeot sold 72,000 units of 206CC. This year
approach somewhere around 100,000 units.
206CC, Daihatsu Copen was first appeared as a concept car (in 1999
motor show). After receiving good reception it got green light and
3 years for development. The folding aluminium roof called for a new
fitting technology to reduce cost (otherwise impossible for a car so
Press a button, after 20 second the roof will be completely stored in
trunk. With the roof eliminated, it seeks rollover protection from a
of rollover bars located right behind the headrests - very Audi TT
styling of Copen copies that of the TT - you can easily see that from
body profile and its six-spoke wheel design. Besides, it also copies
details from Volkswagen New Beetle - such as the headlamps and
lot of money on design thus might benefit pricing - just joking. In
it could be cheaper than 206CC because it is a K-car, derived from
Mira / Move / Max and shared 40% of components, mostly the engine,
and suspensions. The 830kg Copen is therefore powered by the company's
660c.c. turbocharged 16-valve four-pot engine, driving either 5-speed
or a Tiptronic-style 4-speed auto to the front wheels. Ridiculously,
manual version employs a LSD to handle the "mighty" 64 horsepower and
lbft of torque.
has been shortened by more than 100mm while the introduction of
bars adds rigidity. Floorpan, sills and windscreen pillars have been
though being cheaper, it won't appeal to the majority like the 206CC.
Copen is not as practical as the Peugeot. First of all, the cabin is
because its roof is 130mm lower than 206CC. 6-feet people will find
headroom. Secondly, the tiny engine needs rev to overcome turbo lag and
extract sufficient horsepower for brisk acceleration, unlike the 206CC
(even in 1.6 version) which has strong reserve of torque. If not
by the regulations, I am sure Daihatsu would have seek power from a
normally aspirated engine, such as the 110hp 1.3-litre from Sirion.
regulations create many opportunities, but also ruin some good attempts.
Copen has very stiff suspension setup. This make it a good driver’s car
by K-car standard, but the side effect is uncomfortable and noisy ride
on bumpy roads. It is therefore not as competent as Cappucino. 10 years
gone, Cappucino remains to be the most lovely K-car.