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Daihatsu Copen 2004 Review

It has an engine capacity equal to four cups of tea and, on paper at least, about the same amount of kick.

But the motorcycle-sized heart of the Daihatsu Copen can get the small, quirky, Noddy-esque convertible off the mark quickly enough to surprise onlookers.

Taking one of these baby cars to the streets of Perth produces questions directed at the driver's sanity, prefixed by "What the . . .?"

So Big Ears made rude signs at the motorists and they went away. As they do in a non-politically correct Toyland.

The Copen – apparently a tragic mishmash of the words closed and open to recognise the car's convertible nature – would be ideal for Toyland's lethargic traffic speed.

It is more at home in a big, congested city than the relatively open byways of Perth.

But that's not to say the tiny two-seater with attitude can't provide its owner with hours of joyful commuting.

It is a remarkably nimble and sprightly creature.

The steering is direct, the engine a screamer with an 8000rpm redline, the gearchange is light and the clutch pedal action feels like it's not attached to anything.

Low-end power is weak. You become used to giving it a heavy right foot to stir the 659cc four-cylinder and provoke its weeny turbocharger to spin in an attempt to kindle the 50kW buried deep under the rolled bonnet.

That's not a lot of power. The performance is attributed more to the Copen's mere 830kg weight than what's under the bonnet.

Part of the fun is the car's ambience.

Because the occupants sit so low, cosseted in a comfortable cabin, the impression is of travelling in something just shy of a rocket-propelled Porsche.

If things get too messy, the folding-steel roof rises electrically from the boot – similar to the security benefits of other metal-tops such as the Peugeot 206CC, Mercedes SLK and Lexus SC430.

The Copen's boot is small with the roof up, impossibly tiny with the top stored.

That this is no long-distance traveller is confirmed after two hours of country driving where 100km/h sees a buzzy 4000rpm on the tacho and much numbing of the derriere. The accurate handling and neat city ride also dissolve into body shake and bounce over rough bitumen roads.

But in its environment, the Copen works.

It's clearly for individual players who work in the city.

Take a passenger and there's not much space left for a sandwich, let alone a picnic lunch.

Given the $29,990 price tag, the car's equipment level is high – airconditioning; electric windows, mirrors and roof; alloy wheels; dual airbags; MP3 CD player and a tyre repair kit instead of a spare.

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Range and Specs

(base) 0.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,290 – 6,380 2004 Daihatsu Copen 2004 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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