Thursday, June 19, 2014

Daihatsu Copen Robe (LA400K)

The Daihatsu Copen, the first kei roadster made by Daihatsu that was once targeted by millennials when other kei-car predecessors from its rival companies ceased to exist. A well-engineered sporty kei car that demonstrates even the smallest of cars can have so much fun in the right way. Sadly, it was gone from the lineup two years ago, leaving fans wondering what might have been for the last remaining kei-roadster but that death kneel was just temporary because...two years later, the Copen is back!

2015 Daihatsu Copen Robe

Yes, the kei roadster from Daihatsu is back to redefine the long lost genre that started a few decades ago but who cares about it? They're kei cars and kei cars stay in Japan as it will be. Anyway, this new Copen is called the Copen Robe and it features an all new look that was inspired from the concept car as seen from last year's Tokyo Motor Show.

2015 Daihatsu Copen Robe interior

From every angle, you can see why Daihatsu decided to retain the concept looks to its reborn Copen and I have to agree on that because that looks even more aggressive than its predecessor's roundy shape. The old one looks more toyish in the design department but for this new one, you can really tell it's as sharp as a swiss army knife in interesting ways.

On the interior, it's now more driver focused than ever because what you can only see is nothing but a steering wheel, some instrumental panel, some aircon and that's it. You don't get a radio until you offer it as an optional accessory but if you did opt in for that, the DIATONE SOUND NAVI is offered. Sure, why would you want a sat-nav on your Copen? Nobody knows why and nobody cares but with or without the radio, the Copen is very much an enjoyable weekend car.

Since this is a kei car, it's powered by a 660cc engine and it's turbocharged so it produces the kei-car maximum limit of 64PS power output and 92Nm of torque. This tiny engine can be mated with either a CVT gearbox or a 5-speed manual gearbox. The CVT gearbox comes with a 7-speed manual mode that lets its 7 simulated gears do the talking. Daihatsu says that this mode is direct and quick on the shifting department but if you want to get the most out of it, try the one with the 5-speed manual gearbox. Sounds old-school but this is really how you want to drive the new Copen.

The CVT gearbox on the Copen Robe will give you a fuel economy of around 25.2kmpl while the one with the manual transmission will return at around 22.2km/L.

2015 Daihatsu Copen Robe

Because it weighs less than a Ford Fiesta, the new Copen's lightweight structure benefits its fuel efficiency and its fun factor of being a sportscar. It comes with a new body structure called D-Frame that is more stiffer and more aerodynamic than its predecessor. To keep it simple, the new Copen doesn't come with those hydraulic or power steering nonsense but instead, they've go for the rack-and-pinion steering, which is kind of a throwback to us. It also comes with a McPherson struts on the front and torsion beam on the back so when you handle this one; it feels more like the Copens of yesteryears. It maybe a kei car and it maybe a front-wheel drive car but it feels more precise and agile as it should be.

2015 Daihatsu Copen Robe

So, how much for this new Copen Robe? For the 5MT model, it costs 1,819,800 Japanese Yen ($18,200 estimate), while the CVT model costs a cheaper 1,798,200 Japanese Yen ($18,000 estimate). At that price range, you could afford a more boring compact 2BOX car but no matter because no matter how reasonable this pricing the new Copen Robe could be, it's good to see that kei roadster back in its new twist.

Available colors: Liquid Silver Metallic, Pearl White III, Bright Silver Metallic, Black Mica Metallic, Matador Red Pearl, Toniko Orange Metallic, Jaune Yellow, and Clear Blue Crystal Metallic.

Photo: Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd.

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