Posts Tagged ‘copen’

Honda S660 Kei Sports Car Confirmed for Production

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 9th, 2014

It’s been a big week for Japanese-made sports cars. First we had the unconfirmed rumor out of Australia that Toyota will produce a convertible GT86, even after previously indicating the opposite. Today we have confirmation that Honda is giving the green light to manufacture the Beat-based S660 Concept as early as 2015.

Honda S660 Concept

We first saw the Honda S660 Concept (above) at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show last November. As you can see, it has a splendid aesthetic with a modern design that goes above and beyond what you’d expect from an automaker like Honda. At first glance it’s reminiscent of a convertible Acura NSX, albeit much, much smaller, but in truth it’s based on the Honda EV-STER Concept from the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show (below).

Honda EV-STER Concept

Honda’s newest sports car’s measurements are small enough to fit Japan’s Kei car regulations, which limit body length at 3.4m and width at 1.48m. Even the concept’s name hints at its size, S660 being a reference to the bite-sized engine displacement – 660cc. This engine is the same size as was in the original Honda Beat from 1991.

In fact, the closer you look at the S660 Concept’s powertrain, the more you see where this car has its roots. Just like the original Beat, the S660 will use a rear-drive, mid-engine layout for optimum balance. Honda claims that the car will have a perfect 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles. If the S660 does indeed follow in the Beat’s footsteps, then you can expect to the production model to get a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that outputs 64 horsepower, the maximum power allowed by Kei car regulations.

With all the limitations put on the S660’s mechanics, you can see why Honda put such a heavy emphasis on its looks. What they presented us in Tokyo was simultaneously clean and aggressive with all the right features. LED headlights, a dominant grille and sharp-cut wheels all help make the S660 stand out from the crowd. Of course, by the time the S660 launches in 2015, it will need to stand out from the crowd… Toyota is planning to revive their Daihatsu Copen sometime around 2015, and Suzuki may do the same with their old Cappuccino by 2016.

There are probably at least a few reading this who’d be interested in owning one of these pearly white S660 roadsters when they finally launch sometime next year. Unfortunately, initial speculation indicates that the S660 will be limited exclusively to the Japanese market. Still, anything can happen, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we draw closer to the little sports car’s debut.


Daihatsu Plans to Revive their Copen Roadster

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Mark your calendars everybody: It’s officially the week of the Japanese roadster.

If you’ll recall, we started off the week looking at the Mazda MX-5 GT Jota. Then, yesterday we previewed the upcoming Honda S660 Concept, which takes its inspiration from the old Honda Beat mini-roadster. Today, in perhaps the biggest coincidence of all time, we now have official word that the Honda Beat’s old rival, the Daihatsu Copen, is also slated for a return to production.

Daihatsu Copen

Just like the original Honda Beat, the Daihatsu Copen was a tiny roadster built to comply with Japan’s strict kei car restrictions.  Basically, kei (literally “light”) cars are defined by their small size and very low-displacement engines (less than 0.66 liters). The upside for kei drivers is that they enjoy lower taxes and exemption from some fees.

Kei regulations were originally established in post-war Japan to help popularize personal automobiles by offering drivers smaller, more affordable vehicles. However, the specific kei class never really caught on outside Japan, although there are mini cars in every market today.

Unlike the Honda Beat, the old Daihatsu Copen was successful enough to make it into the UK. However, just like the Beat and its successor (the Honda S2200), the Daihatsu Copen is no longer in production.

The difference is that where the S2000 was cut from Honda’s roster in 2009, Daihatsu stopped producing the Copen with a dramatic “10th anniversary final-500-models production run” in August of last year.  It seems a little odd that they’d go through the trouble of removing a car from their lineup only to reintroduce it again one year later. Maybe it’s a marketing thing. Who knows?

One possible explanation is that the future Daihatsu Copen and the Copen of the past will differ enough that a break in production makes sense.  For example, Daihatsu showcased eight brand-new concepts and the 2013 Indonesia International Motor Show earlier this year, and at least one of them was directly inspired by the Copen of old. Take a look at the D-R Concept below, which not only showcases distinctly Copen-like aesthetic themes, but also contains the exact same 660cc engine as the late kei roadster:

Daihatsu D-R Concept

Unfortunately, unlike the Honda S660 concept, we have no idea what the new Daihatsu Copen will look like… The image at the top of this post is of the old Copen. We don’t even know for sure that we’ll see it before the end of 2013.  It seems reasonable to assume that we’ll get a concept or prototype at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, but no official premiere date has been set.

If you do happen to hear any news about the new Daihatsu Copen, please feel free to send us a tip. Current questions that the automotive blogosphere can’t answer include:

  • Will the new Daihatsu Copen be built to Japan’s kei regulations?
  • There are rumors that Toyota may help produce the next Copen in order to adopt the final product into their own lineup, is this true? (Given that Daihatsu is a Toyota subsidiary, that would seem likely)
  • Will the next-gen Copen be the evolved version of the D-R Concept?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and come back tomorrow for more Japanese car news!

Thanks for reading!


Japanese Cars From the Fringes of the Detroit Auto Show – Day 3 Round Up

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Today is the third and final day that we will be breaking news on the Detroit Auto Show. The final press-exclusive unveilings have all gone off without a hitch, and soon the auto show will be opened up to the general public.

As you continue reading, we’re going to cover four Japanese cars that almost fell through the cracks… These cars didn’t get much press because they’re either not first-time world premieres or they’re not relevant to a global market. But, since we’re dedicated to keeping the Japanese car enthusiast fully informed it’s important for us to cover the wayside vehicles, too.

Nissan’s “Guilt Free” Sports Car Concept

To be fair, this future concept doesn’t actually exist yet, but this is the first time we’ve heard that Nissan has definite plans to create an eco-friendly sports car targeted towards a younger audience. It’s something that we know Nissan has been thinking about for almost 7 years, so keep your eyes open for this over the course of 2013.

Nissan didn’t give us much more than that, but it did say that the “love it or hate it” sports car will sit between the Nissan GT-R and Nissan Z coupe in the model lineup. Let’s just hope it doesn’t look like this.

Source: Car and Driver

2014 Nissan Versa Note

Again, this vehicle didn’t get very much press because it’s technically only new to the US market. The rest of the world has been enjoying an almost identical vehicle – named just the Nissan Note – for about a year now. The US-exclusive Versa model is intended to bring the American market a budget-friendly version of the internationally successful Note.

The semi-new five-door 2014 Versa Note will be based on Nissan’s existing “V” platform used in the Versa sedan, and will start at a little over $14,000. Overall, skepticism is high for this vehicle because of a supposedly poor interior design and a price point that puts it too close to the Honda Fit. That being said, the Nissan Versa lineup sells fairly well in the US, so the press could definitely be proven wrong.

Source: Car and Driver

Acura RLX

The Acura RLX officially premiered at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, so it’s no surprise that this vehicle didn’t see very much coverage. However, the only reason that Acura brought the RLX to the Detroit Auto Show was to drum up some pre-release hype and announce a launch date/pricing for the Japanese manufacturer’s new flagship sedan. And that’s exactly what they accomplished.

While the Acura RLX may not be quite as newsworthy as the other vehicles in its class at the Detroit Auto Show like the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50, it is more directly relevant. The new RLX will officially hit the market on March 15 with a price tag between $40,000 and $61,000 depending on just how fancy you want to get.

Source: Carscoop

Daihatsu Copen (Maybe)

The Japanese-exclusive manufacturer Daihatsu allowed Aisin (a transmission manufacturer) to bring what appears to be a Copen to the Detroit Auto Show. Unfortunately, coverage of this super compact vehicle known for its forward design and extreme fun-factor was limited to a photo that looks like it was taken by an iPhone.

It’s a mystery why a Daihatsu Copen would make an appearance at the NAIAS, as Daihatsu is officially withdrawing from the European market at the end of this month and production of the Copen ceased during April of last year. It’s for this reason that I would be willing to bet that the doorless “Copen” we saw at the NAIAS was actually a concept for the 2013 Daihatsu D-R that we know is in the works. This seems especially likely since the enormous LCD screen matches what we know about the D-R.

But if they did resurrect the Copen, there would be no complaining here!

Source: The Truth About Cars

Well, that’ll wrap up our thorough coverage of Japanese cars at the Detroit Auto Show. Come back tomorrow for a summary look back at the big hits and big letdowns of the Detroit Auto Show that you won’t want to miss!


Open Copen Production Closin’

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Man, I had to think long and hard to get that tongue-twister title. And I hope it brought a smile to your face — at least for a moment — as the news is actually quite sad:

Daihatsu’s ultra-cute convertible kei car — the Copen — is going to go out of production at the end of August this year. The Copen has been the only convertible kei car available in Japan recently, but is slated for retirement as a result of falling sales in recent years.

Daihatsu Copen 10th Anniversary Edition

The Copen’s rounded form won the “Good Design Award” in Japan in 2002, the year of its launch. Daihatsu is marking 10 years of production with a 10th Anniversary Edition that has leather seats as well as a commemorative 10th Anniversary plate in the door openings. The manual car will retail at 1.82 million Yen, with the auto coming in at a slightly lower 1.8 million Yen. Just 500 of these final models will be made.

There are no plans to replaced the Copen in Daihatsu’s line up, and the Copen’s demise will mean there are no longer any kei convertibles on offer in Japan as Honda and Suzuki have already abandoned the market.

The top speed is nothing to write home about (88 MPH), but the 0 – 62 KM/H time of 11.7 seconds is reasonable, especially considering the tiny engine capacity. The flip side is that fuel economy is an impressive 44.1 MPG.

The thing is, this car is about more than just numbers. If you want numbers, go get a GT-R (for outright speed and acceleration), or a plug-in hybrid Prius (if it’s fuel efficiency that floats your boat). This car is all about one thing — fun. It’s small and impractical, but its cheeky face says it all: It’s like the little puppy that wants to play — and keep on playing.

That’s what the Copen is all about. And that’s why it will be sorely missed in the showrooms and on the road. Sure, 2,000 units a year is hard to justify when you are a major manufacturer, especially when compared with peak sales of 11,000 units in 2003.

But at a time when Toyota and Subaru (with the 86GT and BRZ respectively) are looking less at absolute performance and aiming instead to capture the excitement of driving again, it is sad to see a car that so clearly said “fun” exiting stage left with no replacement on the horizon.

Source: Nikkei (Japanese-language)