Rate It: The Gazoo-Tuned Daihatsu Kei Car

By Colin Wood
Sep 1, 2020 | Daihatsu, Gazoo Racing, Copen

A Daihatsu optimized by Gazoo Racing may seem like an odd crossover, but Daihatsu has actually been a subsidiary of Toyota since 2016.

It may not be a surprise, then, that Gazoo picked the sporty-ish, retractable-hardtop Copen out of Daihatsu's Kei car-filled lineup to have some fun with.

Although power output from the Copen GR Sport's turbocharged, 658cc inline-three is the same as the regular Copen, the main upgrades center around handling, with unique underside bracing and a retuned spring rate.

Other notable features include Recaro seats, a Momo steering wheel, BBS wheels and a "front super LSD." Plus, the Copen GR Sport can even be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT with "7-speed Super Active Shift."

The Copen GR Sport starts at ¥2,435,000 (about $23,000). Do you think that small cars like this one could ever catch on in the United States, or is the way we built our country not conducive to the idea of Kei cars?

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View comments on the GRM forums
Vajingo New Reader
9/1/20 10:36 a.m.

If you start a racing league and get a presence among enthusiasts it will take off. Especially if the government gives you some sort of break for having such a car. As I have always said, if it works in Japan it would work here

Carsandbikes Reader
9/1/20 12:08 p.m.

Gazoo has also "fettled" the Yaris hatchback.   It's not the re-badged Mazda2 hatchback the U.S. market sells, but the JDM model that the rest of the world gets.   BTW, the Gazoo modded hatch is supposed to be ridiculously expensive, so I would imagine this Copen is too...at least compared to "regular" Copens. 

9/1/20 12:54 p.m.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
9/1/20 2:19 p.m.

In a country where the MX-5 is seen by too many as too small, and cannot muster much in sales numbers, this seems impossible to sell at a profit. 

Honda's S660 seemed almost possible but this just doesn't get that close.  My 2 cents.

jb229 New Reader
9/1/20 11:16 p.m.

The GR Yaris's extra power (268 BHP iirc) and massive amount of re-tuning very much justifies the expense compared to the normal JDM Yaris to me, but a GR Copen without any extra power at $23k?  The normal models sell for the equivalent of $15-18k, and a quick google says you get the choice of a CVT or a 5-speed manual for an extra $500 or so.

Obviously never driven one but I don't think I've heard of them having any particularly remarkable driving characteristics over any other kei roadster.  Maybe there's an underground mod scene for kei cars and someone makes a supercharger kit for it.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/2/20 6:00 a.m.

In reply to jb229 :

Kei cars are not allowed to make more than something like 65hp, so they wouldn't be able to turn up the power without it losing its Kei status, at which point it starts being taxed and subject to other regulations.

Tom1200 Dork
9/2/20 9:48 a.m.

It would have to be sub 20K and they would have to figure out a way to get it around 65hp limit for the US market.

Personally I'd love to flog one of those, looks like fun.

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/2/20 9:55 a.m.

They will never catch on cause people are too addicted to SUVs...

9/2/20 9:57 a.m.
93EXCivic said:

They will never catch on cause people are too addicted to SUVs...

I think it can flip, but at this point our "addiction" to SUVs is more socioeconomic than people's desire for mommy-movers (in my opinion of course).

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