Should US Import Daihatsu Copen RWD?

Large Sports Car: Not as Small as Miata

Daihatsu stunned spectators at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show with the conceptual launch of the new Copen. Unlike its much adored front-wheel-drive kei car design that first boasted its presence in 2002, this manifestation was bigger and included a rear-wheel drive. Moreover, due to its altered build, engineers found the capacity to implant a more potent unit than the 658cc being used for present versions.

Output was not stated, yet one can assume confidently that this 1.3-liter motor had more pep than the diminutive 0.6-liter turbo engine producing 63 horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque found in the kei car. Extra oomph is a necessity considering the Vision Copen measures 151 inches in length and 66.7 inches in width, putting it 18 inches longer and nearly 9 inches bigger compared to the JDM-spec kei car. Although still littler than the Mazda MX-5 Miata, not by much.

Japan’s Best Car magazine posed an intriguing question to the individual in charge of the Daihatsu Copen’s development team: “But why did Daihatsu decide to make its pint-sized sporty car substantially larger?” The response they received was quite captivating: “The thought behind the Copen was that if it were to be a genuine sports car, and not just a lightweight car, demand would increase, including the potential for export. That’s it.”

It is evident that creating a bigger Copen having an even more powerful motor and rear-wheel drive would make it considerably more attractive for export as compared to the current small car. We mustn’t overlook the truth that Daihatsu is a subsidiary of Toyota; thus, exporting it overseas will not be difficult. Best Car speculates it can potentially become a coupe below the GR86 with an immobile roof branded by Toyota; however, admittedly this could merely be wishful thinking so far.

Upon deeper consideration, it is quite possible that Toyota’s S-FR concept from 2015 was also a small sports car, worth considering. Of note, the following photograph displays the vehicle, which is 157.1 in length with a width of 66.7 inches, much like the Vision Concept. Its motor was a one and a half litre gas engine with 130 hp directed toward the back tyres accompanied by a six-speed manual. It is regrettable to report that Daihatsu’s concept appears to have two pedals only.

We must remain in suspense to discover what will transpire, yet the clock is ticking for the existing Copen as it has been available since 2014. This is the last of the action-oriented mini cars, subsequent to the shutter of the Honda S660 in the past year.

Source: Best Car

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