By Antony Ingram
Japanese automaker Daihatsu has never had much presence in the U.S. market. That’s probably because it lasted little more than four years in North America, closing its doors in early 1992. That means the chances of getting your hands on a production version of the Kopen Concept, newly unveiled ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show next month, are fairly slim.
If you recognize the name, you’re probably a fan of Japanese cars or a regular Gran Turismo gamer. It’s near-identical to a model currently sold by Daihatsu in Japan, the Copen–and with its kei-car dimensions and convertible roof, Kopen should supersede Copen if it ever goes into production.
Unlike the kawaii Copen with its first-generation Audi TT-style curves, the Kopen concepts–for there are several–are a little more aggressive. There’s a hint of Hyundai in the design, we reckon, and maybe a dash of parent company Toyota’s GT86 sports car. Most manly(ish) of all is the XMZ Kopen, with rugged body cladding and deep green paintwork for an unlikely offroad-inspired look.
They’ll be rather less menacing in person though, their dimensions restricted by Japanese kei-car rules aimed at reducing congestion. That means a body just 11.2 feet long, 4.9 feet wide and less than 4.2 feet tall–comfortably under the 6.6-foot kei-regulated height limit. The Copen’s folding metal roof returns, as does a 0.66-liter three-cylinder engine, while power goes through a CVT gearbox.
The automaker will show two other kei-concepts at Tokyo. Coolest by far is the bizarre FC-Deck mini-truck, again built to kei-car regulations and featuring a fuel-cell drivetrain. Its Japanese apartment-on-wheels look makes the firm’s other concept, the boxy Deca-Deca minivan, look positively normal.
Daihatsu’s kei concepts will join the similarly diminutive Honda S660 concept when the Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors on November 22.