Daihatsu’s stylish new two-seater roadster, the Copen, looks sure to create an impact when it makes its European debut at this year’s British International Motor Show.
Aside from its eye-catching teardrop design, the biggest surprise – and a feature that really sets the Copen apart from its competitors – is the option of an electrically-operated Mercedes SLK-style hard folding roof.
Once two front clips have been unfastened, at the flick of a switch it takes just 25 seconds for the lightweight roof to stow itself neatly in the boot.
The hard roof not only makes the Copen great to use all-year-round, it also offers heightened security from unwanted attention over the more common canvass-style convertible roof.
The Copen’s name itself is coined from ‘Compact and Open’, which goes a long way towards explaining the concept behind this funky-looking 660cc turbocharged roadster.
At just 3,395 mm long and 1,475 mm wide, manoeuvring and parking the Copen is extremely easy. Inside, the cabin has been cleverly designed to allow ample leg and shoulder room, even for those who are six-foot plus.
The interior features sporty circular instrument dials and air vents, electric windows and a lidded centre armrest. Inside the armrest is extra storage space and a switch for the remote, electrically-operated self-closing boot mechanism. Daihatsu’s show car also features striking red leather trim - one of many options.
Once in the cabin, the driver sits at the centre of the Copen’s 2,230 mm wheelbase. This connects him or her directly with the driving experience, delivered by a high technology 660cc twin-cam four-cylinder turbo-charged engine that revs smoothly to 9,000 rpm, plus suspension precisely tuned for dynamic performance.
The Copen’s teardrop design merges sports car dynamism with small car intimacy and its oval front and rear lamps give it a symmetry for an overall sense of completeness.
Currently only on sale in Japan – where there are already long waiting lists – Daihatsu is undertaking an engineering and costing analysis into the viability of importing the Copen to the UK. And show-goers’ reactions will be closely watched.Published 23 October 2002