Daihatsu Vision Copen is gloriously retro and rear-wheel-drive

The original Daihatsu Copen was a decent enough kei car. By the time it was introduced in 2002, the Bubble Era craziness that spawned the Mazda AZ-1, Honda Beat, and Suzuki Cappuccino had faded. Those were legit kei sports cars and the front-wheel-drive Copen more of a cute cruiser. Now, Daihatsu has revealed a concept called the Vision Copen that transforms it into a droolworthy Miata-fighter.

Looks-wise, the Vision Copen is almost identical to the original, just a bit more muscular. The fenders bulge out a bit more and the hood and trunk are a bit more sculpted. The happy round headlights and taillights are still there, now LED instead of the bulb variety. Even the six-spoke wheels are reminiscent of the original alloys.

The biggest change, however, is that the Vision Copen is rear-wheel-drive, powered by what Daihatsu says are carbon-neutral fuels (whatever that means) burned by a 1.3-liter engine. If you noted that that’s bigger than the kei jidosha regulations allow, you’d be correct. So are the concept’s dimensions, which measure 150 inches long and  67 inches wide. That’s sized to be an ND Miata rival, which is genuinely exciting.

Daihatsu also revealed three other concepts, starting with the me:MO. The kei van was described as a car that can accompany the owner through every stage of life. Details are sparse for now, but it looks to have modular components and body panels that can be swapped out. That’s similar to the current production Copen, whose main body panels can be replaced with ones of different shape or color, except this is  in van form.

Next up is the Daihatsu Uniform, designed to be the ultimate in kei workhorses. It comes in two forms, the Uniform Truck and the Uniform Cargo, both designed to haul goods along Japan’s narrow urban streets.

Just because it’s completely utilitarian doesn’t mean it has to look boring. The quirky design emphasizes function and practicality but still somehow manages to look stylish. The name Uniform is a winner too, a reference to the many uniformed delivery workers that keep cities like Tokyo humming.

Not content to show just one roadster, Daihatsu also revealed the Osanpo. The Vision Copen looks tailored to true sports driving, while this was designed for a more leisurely experience. In fact, Daihatsu says the droptop was designed to give its passengers the feeling of taking a nature walk while being refreshed by a pleasant breeze.

The Osanpo is spiritually more connected to the original Copen, which is just fine if Daihatsu intends to make the next Copen into a Miata challenger. The want level for the latter is high, though it wouldn’t be eligible for import until 2049 at the earliest. Perhaps Toyota could sell a rebadged version in the States? We can only dream.

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1 Response to Daihatsu Vision Copen is gloriously retro and rear-wheel-drive

  1. DesignerD says:

    There is nothing on that little Vision Coupe that isn’t production possible. I would totally buy that

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