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Diahatsu Copen

Broadcast dates : 12th February 2006
18th February 2006

The Diahatsu Copen is tiny! It measures just 3,4 metres in length, and a snug 1,5 metres in width. As for height, you could trip over it if you were stumbling around in the dark. The tinyness of the Copen makes it an instant stand-out car. 

The cabin has a nice quality ambience for a car costing under R200 000. That Momo steering wheel speaks "sportive", in the European parlance, the gauges are super-imposed Porsche style, and there are nice little oddment storage places.

If only there was a bit more space. 

The top mechanism works very slickly, although you have to unclip the windscreen stays.

The cabin reveal shows some very stylish tan leather seat covers, eye-catching roll over hoops in case you get silly, while at the business end the bonnet reveals a 64 kW motor that gives reasonable punch thanks, to the carís 850 kilogram weight.

You should get a 0-100 in around the 11 second mark and top out at over 170, which feels fast in a mini-me car like this.

The Copen chassis is a bit of a mix. Itís nice and pointy the way it turns in and the front suspension is not bad. But the rear suspension is way over-stiff and under-damped.
Apart from the gearchange, which is vague you feel every ripple in the road and speed bumps shake your fillings loose. The steering could also do with a course in straight-line accuracy. But on smooth roads, itís good

Being an absolutely new kid on the block, the Copen attracted dozens of admirers.

Like the Nissan 350Z and the Audi TT, Daihatsu will use the Copen as an image-builder rather than a runaway volume seller, like Mazda has managed with its MX5.

The big problem that the Copen faces is one of price. At R189 995, itís not far off the likes of the larger and more practical Opel Tigra 1,4 and the Hyundai Tiburon which are both more substantial cars.

Nevertheless itís cute. Itís going to appeal to young girls and as Fenly says, it will make a great fashion accessory.

Daihatsu Copen
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 1 298 cc
  • Power: 64 kW @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque; 120 Nm @ 4 400 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 k/h: 10,8 seconds
  • Top speed: 170 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 6,8 litres/100 km (Claimed figures)
  • Price: R189 995
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