Daihatsu is without doubt one of the oldest automakers in Japan. Initially beginning out as Hatsudoki Seizo Firm Ltd in 1907, primarily specializing in small gasoline-powered engines for energy crops, then shifting on to three-wheelers mini vehicles in 1937. The Hatsudoki Seizo Firm additionally constructed engines for the Japanese Nationwide Railways.

In a while, Niigata Engineering and Shinko Engineering Firm Ltd collaborated with Hatsudoki to make railroad diesel engines and vehicle manufacturing. In 1951, Hatsudoki rebranded to Daihatsu Motor Firm Ltd and made their first manufacturing unit, the Daihatsu Midget, in 1957. 

Daihatsu made different manufacturing models such because the Daihatsu Compagno earlier than Toyota reached out in 1967, shopping for shares and changing into a significant shareholder proudly owning round 17% of the corporate. In 1995 Toyota elevated shareholding to 33.4% after which to 51.2% in 1998. This was when the Daihatsu Copen idea automobile was made.

The Daihatsu Copen was unveiled on the 1999 Tokyo Motor present with the identical 660cc turbocharged engine used within the Daihatsu Bare, one other Kei automobile by Daihatsu comprised of 1999 to 2004. Nonetheless, manufacturing didn’t instantly begin till 2002, when Japan’s first-gen (L880) Daihatsu Copen rolled out of the Daihatsu Ikeda plant. 

Would you select the Daihatsu Copen over the Suzuki Cappuccino? Each vehicles have related engine choices, however within the first-gen Daihatsu Copen, you may get one with a 1.3-liter Naturally Aspirated engine utilized in export variants. You additionally get a 5-speed handbook in each vehicles. For automated transmission followers, the 4-speed automated within the Daihatsu Copen is best than the 3-speed within the Suzuki Cappuccino.

Daihatsu Copen

However what units the 2 aside is that the Daihatsu Copen is a extra refined Kei automobile. It’s because it was produced later; thus, you get higher driver engagement, mechanical parts, and higher construct high quality. The roof of the Daihatsu Copen is managed electronically, not like within the Suzuki Cappuccino, the place it’s a must to manually take away and set up the roof. 

There’s additionally a threat of getting rained on should you take away the roof on a Suzuki Cappuccino. It’s because there’s no space for storing for the double roof panels. The one win the Suzuki Cappuccino has over the Daihatsu Copen is its rear-wheel-drive, and the Copen is front-wheel-drive. 

View Suzuki Cappuccino Ads for sale

Read our Suzuki Cappuccino buying guide

However if you’re searching for a daily-driven automobile and don’t have plans to show it right into a drift automobile, the Daihatsu Copen is the proper Kei automobile. Earlier than you add the Daihatsu Copen to your record of JDM vehicles to purchase, listed here are some professionals and cons we predict it is best to think about. 

Professionals and Cons


Glorious Construct High quality 

In comparison with its rivals just like the Mazda Autozam AZ-1 and Suzuki Cappuccino, the Daihatsu Copen has a greater construct high quality. That is primarily due to Toyota and Daihatsu’s later manufacturing time and collaboration. There are clearly bits and faults like fading plastic inside trims. Nonetheless, the inside is best than that you just get in any Kei sports activities automobile. 

The Daihatsu Copen might be the one Kei sports activities automobile to be supplied with heated leather-based seats and dual-zone local weather management. One thing you’d count on on a higher-class sports activities automobile such because the Mazda Miata or the Toyota MR2. However not even the Mazda Miata was offered with an electronically managed hardtop roof as commonplace.

Whereas most JDM convertibles have a rear plastic window, the Daihatsu Copen has a rear glass window. Which is extra sturdy and doesn’t fade on account of publicity to daylight. The convertible roof high quality can also be higher than the Honda Beat or Suzuki Cappuccino. 

Enjoyable To Drive

The 650cc engine may solely be pushing round 65 to 85 horsepower, which isn’t a lot. However for a automobile that weighs beneath a ton, it’s greater than sufficient to get you faster to highschool or work than public transport can. In case you get one with a 5-speed handbook transmission, you’ll have the blast of your lifetime racing down the freeway with the roof down. 

However you quickly get bored getting gapped by Honda Civics and Suzuki Cappuccinos and get mocked whereas at it. Fortunately modifying the engine on a Daihatsu Copen shouldn’t be that onerous. In spite of everything, it’s only a 3-cylinder engine. 

You may get extra energy from the 660cc engine by changing the previous twin-scroll turbo with a brand new one and different supporting mods comparable to aftermarket gas injectors and new spark plugs. However going over 120 horsepower even with aftermarket internals places the engine in danger. To be protected, don’t go over 100 horsepower and improve the clutch and brakes should you plan on rising the engine’s energy output. 

In case you get one with a 1.3-liter NA engine, the utmost horsepower you may get out of it with an aftermarket turbo equipment and a tune is round 150 horsepower. With that, you may have the ability to meet up with and even outrun a Mazda Miata. 

Low Operating and Upkeep Prices

Daihatsu Copen

One of many fundamental benefits of getting a small engine is low operating and upkeep prices. If not pushed like a hardcore JDM sports activities automobile like a Nissan Skyline, you’ll most likely overlook that you’re due for oil, brake fluid, or coolant change. This makes the Daihatsu Copen the proper first-time purchaser JDM automobile. Gasoline costs mustn’t trouble you should you personal a Daihatsu Copen. Consumption is at round 40mpg, which is best than some superbikes. 

Insurance coverage for Kei vehicles can also be inexpensive. Suppose you’re shopping for a Daihatsu Copen on your teenager’s sixteenth birthday. In that case, you’ll be able to afford to pay insurance coverage on your car alongside theirs. If they’ll’t afford upkeep and operating prices, you’ll be able to chip in on that too. However not without end since they’ll quickly wish to personal a Supra or a Skyline, and what higher automobile to study with than a Daihatsu Copen? 

Nice Appears to be like

Other than the construct high quality, what units the Daihatsu Copen other than its competitors is its nice appears to be like. Particularly these produced within the Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s, such because the Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino. You simply can’t ignore that cute-looking mini sports activities automobile on the automobile meet or on the highway; for some motive, it appears to be like prefer it’s smiling again at you. 

In case you don’t favor the OEM look, you’ll be able to all the time add some wheels, a metallic paint job, or wrap and decrease your Copen. It’s one thing that the majority JDM sports activities automobile house owners do, and the Daihatsu Copen can also be one however solely a little bit bit smaller. 

Additionally, there’s all the time the choice of putting in an aftermarket physique equipment. There are some you’ll be able to select from, from customized physique kits, bolt-on physique kits, or totally stripped-down physique kits. In case you are a JDM automobile fanatic, particularly of the JDM automobile scene in Japan, you’ve seen a mini–Skyline R35 GT-R in some unspecified time in the future. 

Nicely, what you noticed is a Daihatsu Copen with a Liberty Stroll GT-Okay equipment. The GT-Okay physique equipment will price you round $4,000, unique of delivery, set up, and different subsidiary prices. In case you are an aesthetics fanatic, that value shouldn’t trouble you. 

Low cost

Like each Kei automobile, the Daihatsu Copen is without doubt one of the most cost-effective JDM vehicles. A primary-gen non-convertible mannequin will price you round $3,000, which isn’t unhealthy, and you too can negotiate the worth decrease. If you would like a convertible mannequin, price range for about $3,500. It’s not value shopping for a second-gen mannequin since each generations have related options. The second-gen Daihatsu Copen solely has refined appears to be like interesting to youthful patrons. 


Daihatsu Copen

Cramped Area

The Daihatsu Copen may be the proper each day driver, however once you begin doing mall runs for buying, you understand it isn’t. After all, you’ll be able to match some small baggage within the trunk, however you’ll must make journeys or pay for supply for giant baggage. If the roof is down, becoming even two small baggage within the trunk will be a problem. It’s because the highest occupies a big portion of the roof, not like the Mazda Miata, the place the roof doesn’t have an effect on trunk house when lowered. 

In case you are tall, above 5’7, the driving place will get uncomfortable with time as there’s not sufficient wiggle room within the seats and foot wheel. Passengers will really feel the identical too. The Daihatsu Copen isn’t the automobile for you if you’re above 6 ft. Inside storage can also be not nice as you solely get mesh door playing cards and the glove compartment.

Frequent Points

Hydraulic Roof Pump Motor Failure

In case you discover that the roof is inoperable on account of gradual opening and shutting, the hydraulic roof pump is failing. This can be a widespread difficulty in older convertible vehicles, and the Daihatsu Copen isn’t any exception. Even once you get one with a working hydraulic roof pump, it’s sure to fail quickly, particularly if it’s the OEM one. 

Filth and particles might construct up within the fluid, or the fluid might begin leaking. Additionally, if the pump is previous and the automobile has been in fixed use, it fails every so often. The roof can both open and cease halfway or fails to fully lock in place, and you find yourself being rained on. 

To be protected, changing the hydraulic roof pump on a Daihatsu Copen is the most secure possibility. In case you suppose it nonetheless has some life, you’ll be able to attempt to repair it. Additionally, verify the hydraulic traces for filth and the wiring system for any damaged harnesses or brittle wires. 

A Squeaky and Cracking Roof

As a result of fixed use, the roof begins squeaking and rattling on the mechanical hinges, particularly when retracting. You may also discover the highest popping up once you hit a bump or pothole. That is brought on by the hinges loosening or dropping elasticity over time. Fortunately substitute hinges can be found, each used and new. You possibly can both purchase new hinges or attempt to restore the previous ones if in case you have some useful abilities. 

The roof develops cracks on account of publicity to excessive components comparable to high-temperature daylight and winter climate situation. Before you purchase one, verify for floor cracks on the highest and the way deep within the roof they’re. One may simply mistake roof cracks for paint cracks. 

Braking System Failure

The braking system on most Kei vehicles, together with the Daihatsu Copen, isn’t constructed to deal with hardcore driving. So, think about upgrading the brakes earlier than planning on these uphill runs in your mini sports activities automobile. You get the Daihatsu Copen with a entrance disk calliper setup and rear drum brakes, and there’s an opportunity they’re worn out. 

Kei vehicles are a number of the most pushed autos in Japan, and few house owners change the brakes on such vehicles so long as they’ve some stopping energy and present some life left. The brakes may be working, however they’re in good situation earlier than you begin driving your Copen. Additionally, verify the brake fluid traces for any cracks and leaks. 

Rust on The Wheel Wells and Alloy Wheels

A number of Daihatsu Copen house owners have complained of rust on the wheel arches. This goes unnoticed as a result of plastic arch liners; you’ll most likely discover it when the rust spreads to the wheel fenders. When shopping for a Daihatsu Copen, make sure you pry the wheel arch liners and look by way of them. A vivid torch or the flashlight in your telephone is useful. 

Rust also can happen on the OEM alloy wheels, particularly the rear ones. Rust from the brake rotors and drums spreads to the wheels, but it surely’s often floor rust. You possibly can paint the rear drum brakes, however for the entrance rotors, rust often signifies put on and tear and moisture on the rotors, each of that are regular. 

Common Costs

Daihatsu Copen

The primary-gen (L880) Daihatsu Copen is best if you’re on a price range. You may get one for round $3,000, whereas the second-gen Copen (LA400) begins at roughly $7,000. Excessive spec and newer fashions such because the Daihatsu Copen GR Sport tuned by Toyota Gazoo Racing go for greater than $15,000.

Comparable Alternate options

Suzuki Cappuccino (Read our Buying Guide)

Mazda Miata (Eunos Roadster) (Read our Buying Guide)

Mazda Autozam AZ-1 (Read our Buying Guide)

Honda S2000 (Read our Buying Guide)

Honda Beat (Read our Buying Guide)

Honda S660

Caterham Seven 160

Fashions and Specs

2002-2012 Daihatsu Copen (L880)

Daihatsu Copen

The primary-gen Daihatsu Copen debuted in late 2001 and went into manufacturing in 2002. Like most Kei vehicles, the Daihatsu Copen was strictly made for the Japanese market. Nonetheless, in 2005 LHD export fashions have been offered in Germany and Europe. 

Vehicles with smaller engines didn’t promote nicely in overseas international locations, so Daihatsu solely developed a 1.3-liter engine for export markets. As a result of reducing gross sales, Daihatsu discontinued the Copen in 2011 however just for the European markets. 

The Daihatsu Copen was by no means offered with a 1.3-liter engine in Japan, which might put it in the next tax bracket. However in all markets, it was offered as a front-wheel-drive automobile with both a 5-speed handbook or 4-speed automated transmission. Japanese market fashions have a 660cc turbocharged 3-cylinder engine which made round 65 horsepower at manufacturing time.

Consumers might go for a material or leather-based inside, whereas anniversary fashions made in 2012 have leather-based seats as commonplace. The door inserts on anniversary fashions are additionally manufactured from leather-based to match the seats. The inside is kind of funky, too, with an aftermarket stereo, analog clock, triple AC vents, bucket seats, and a MOMO duplicate steering wheel. 

2014-Current Daihatsu Copen (LA400)

Daihatsu Copen

In 2013 the second-gen Daihatsu was unveiled on the 2013 Tokyo Motor Present and went into manufacturing later in 2014. You get it with a 660cc turbocharged 3-cylinder engine driving the entrance wheels by way of a 5-speed handbook or 7-speed SAS (Tremendous Lively Shift) CVT transmission. Just like the earlier technology, Daihatsu makes the Copen both as a 2-door roadster or a coverable coupe.

The LA400 Copen is extra trendy and handles higher, however its energy output stays the identical as its predecessor. The previous chassis was changed by a brand new monocoque chassis, and a brand new suspension was launched. The monocoque chassis improves experience high quality and permits patrons to customise physique panels when shopping for a brand new Daihatsu Copen from the Manufacturing unit. 

Newer trims have been additionally launched. The Copen Cero and Coupe resemble the first-gen coupe, however the coupe has a set roof with an non-obligatory sunroof. A one-off Gran Turismo Sport-inspired mannequin was additionally made and badged because the Daihatsu Copen RJ Imaginative and prescient GT. 

In 2019, a brand new Copen GR sport from Toyota Gazoo Racing turned obtainable on the market. This mannequin doesn’t carry any Toyota or Daihatsu badges. As a substitute, it has Copen “C” badges. 


Is a Daihatsu Copen RWD?

No, the Daihatsu Copen was solely made as a front-wheel-drive automobile. This provides rivals just like the Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino the higher hand. Nonetheless, the Copen is a enjoyable automobile to drive in equal measure. 

How a lot is a Daihatsu Copen?

Costs for the Daihatsu Copen begin at roughly $3,000 for older fashions. The one distinction between the first-gen and second-gen Copen is aesthetic, as you get a 660cc turbocharged engine in each generations. Nonetheless, the manufacturing unit turbo on the first-gen Copen is best. 

The place can I purchase a Daihatsu Copen?

In case you are planning on shopping for a Daihatsu Copen, the very best shot you’ve at getting one is from JDM importers. The Daihatsu Copen was by no means exported to the US, and the present mannequin is a JDM-only automobile.

Can I drift a Daihatsu Copen?

In idea, it’s attainable, however the engine is simply too underpowered. You possibly can solely drift a front-wheel-drive automobile just like the Daihatsu Copen by gaining excessive speeds and mimicking an influence slide. 

What engine measurement can slot in a Daihatsu Copen?

If the 3-cylinder engine isn’t sufficient for you, the very best engine swap choices you’ve are 4-cylinder engines. A 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine was used within the first-gen Copen, so set up shouldn’t be that onerous. Honda FWD engines are the commonest engine swaps on Daihatsu Copens however if you wish to convert to AWD or RWD, think about Subaru boxer engines. 

Can I import a Daihatsu Copen?

Sadly, no. The Daihatsu Copen isn’t but authorized for import to america till 2027.

Import a Daihatsu Copen

Learn our Final Information on How to Import a Car from Japan.

  • Sources
    • wikipedia.org/wiki/Daihatsu_Copen
    • carthrottle.com/submit/x7bydxd/
    • theaa.com/car-reviews/daihatsu/copen/copen
    • www.copenworld.com
    • Featured picture https://www.reddit.com/consumer/CarlwithaCee/
Christopher Weydert
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