The latest Copen uses a 1.3 VVT engine with 86 bhp to replace the old 3 cylinder turbo unit. Despite its modest output, it gives the 850kg Copen very grown up performance with an addictive angry exhaust note exiting an engine that loves being revved to the redline. Manic sprints are a hoot and the little Copen will spin the wheels with your foot down. 0 - 60 comes up is 9.5 seconds by the book but itís actually a little faster than that. Keep your foot down and it will do 112 mph but doing so would be utterly pointless. The small size and low ride height accentuate the sensation of speed which only adds to the fun.
The Copen rides just inches from the ground and its raw go kart like nature makes itself known as soon as you drop into the driving seat. Itís a very hard ride and the Copen ricochets off any change in surface making it quite uncomfortable on anything other than silky smooth tarmac. Find smooth tarmac though and the Copen defies its dwarf stature by being very stable and secure. The Copen is a real sports car so the firm ride only adds to the driversí involvement; handling is on rails with responsive, direct steering and eager throttle response. As itís so small it tends to pitch a little and unfortunately the entire car shakes, rattles and booms over the slightest alteration in surface.
The interior is mostly made up of bland low quality plastics from the door pulls to the air vents. Without the leather pack the car lacks the wow factor as with the test car and there isnít even a leather trimmed wheel as standard? There are some nice touches though like the glass wind breaker and the lovely look at me bright red paintwork. The Copen does have a bit of a problem though; with the roof up the entire car creaks and twists around making trips tiring and it only gets worse with the roof down. The entire chassis flexes and twists with scuttle shake causing mini sonic booms inside the car as you attack a pot hole or a change in road surface. It feels like itís about to disintegrate but alas it doesnít. Reliability wise the Copen is as bulletproof as all Daihatsuís and comes with their 5 year warranty.
The Copen is well equipped with ABS, force distribution, twin airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. At only 3.4 metres end to end and just 1.2 metres high itís only natural that the Copen would suffer more in an accident than a bigger car. By small (or rather tiny) sports car standards the Copen fairs okay compared to a Westfield or a Caterham but NCAP have not tested the Copen so really we just donít know.
Given its diminutive dimensions, the interior is surprisingly snug; everything is simple yet functional with traditional sports car binnacles. There wasnít a feeling of claustrophobia at all despite stepping out of a Subaru Forester beforehand. Tiny kei cars will never be very practical with room for a small bag, a passenger and thatís about it. The compactness is only really apparent when you try to put your elbow on the window base to grab the roofline only to realise your forearm is too long! Open air motoring is a great experience and the hard top roof opens electrically within 20 seconds giving you that coveted open air feeling. Parking is so easy and city centre driving is the Copenís playground.
The Copen being so light returns a very respectable 47 MPG combined, factor into this the below average tax rate (for a sports car) at £120, group 9 insurance and the below £12,000 price tag and the tiny machine starts to make sense. Itís also worth mentioning the relative desirability of the Copen helping it maintain above average residuals, so owning a Copen is not such a bad idea at all. If you want a tiny sports car to enjoy at the weekend or to blast around the city the Copen could be an attractive and rare option providing you can forgive its shuddery nature.