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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Cheap, unusual and quirky little open two-seater with a screaming 659cc engine

Against It's tiring to drive long distances and gets blown about on the motorway

Verdict It's not remotely practical but it is fun

Go for… There's only one

Avoid… Not applicable

Daihatsu Copen Open
  • 1. It drives neatly enough as long as the hood is up
  • 2. The folding roof is superbly engineered but it's lightweight, so check it carefully for any damage before you buy
  • 3. Look out for signs of crash repairs
  • 4. The engine will suffer more than most if servicing is delayed or inferior oil is used - insist on a service history
  • 5. There's not much boot space to start with. Fold the roof down, and it almost all disappears
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Daihatsu Copen Open full review with expert trade views

This tiny tin-top convertible whizzes along with as little as 67bhp thanks to its thrummy 0.7-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine.

It drives neatly as long as the hood is in place. But, as soon as you go topless, the body loses vital stiffness, resulting in a car that feels less tidy to drive, while any bumps in the road shudder through the cabin.

While the roof is up, the Copen feels civilised, if a bit small, with most of the road roar and wind noise kept out. Drop the lid and there’s plenty of wind buffeting above 30mph, which proves tiring over long distances.

Inside, it's easy for all but the very large to get comfy, although the driver’s seat has no height adjustment, and the steering has very little. Everything inside and out feels solid and well made, and the folding roof is ingenious. However, it does takes up almost of the boot space when folded down - and there was precious little to start with.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

One of the 'be different' crowd. Too small and impractical. Values unstable

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There’s just one model. It’s well equipped: alloy wheels, air conditioning, remote locking, electric windows and a CD player are fitted as standard, with leather seats an option you might want to look out for. All have manual gearboxes – there’s no auto option.

In other words, all you have to worry about is finding a car in the right colour.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Rare but only appeals to urban buyers in the summer

James Ruppert
Used car guru

When it was new, the Copen was the cheapest car you could buy with a folding steel roof. And, although it loses value fairly slowly - at three years old it is worth roughly half what it originally cost - it's still a cheap way into a convertible.

Owners love them, too, which suggests that, when the few used ones appear on the used market, they may attract a band of enthusiasts willing to pay plenty for good ones.

Fuel economy is another plus, at up to 44mpg overall. Insurance is higher than perhaps you’d expect considering the car's tiny engine, but its group nine listing still makes it cheaper than almost every other two-seat drop-top.

Servicing should be carried out on an annual basis. Its pint-sized turbo motor is best suited to the expert attention we’d expect from a Daihatsu dealer, but the good news is that prices are usually reasonable. Fully synthetic oil is recommended for the engine, however, and that doesn’t come cheap. Some spares are also surprisingly expensive.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

One of the 'be different' crowd. Too small and impractical. Values unstable

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Daihatsus have a good reputation for mechanical toughness and we know nothing about the Copen to challenge this. We can say, however, that we’d expect the engine to suffer more than most if servicing is delayed or sub-standard oil is used.

The folding roof is superbly engineered but lightweight, so you should carefully check its operation before buying a used Copen. We’d also advise a professional pre-purchase inspection, looking in particular for signs of iffy crash repairs. The car’s buzzy nature encourages enthusiastic driving, leading some owners to push the car beyond its limits.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Rare but only appeals to urban buyers in the summer

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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