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by David Zalstein

Three new Daihatsu Kopen concepts have been revealed ahead of their debut at next month’s Tokyo motor show, suggesting the Japanese ‘kei car’ could make a return to production, albeit fronted by the letter ‘K’ rather than ‘C’.

Discontinued last year, the previously-named Daihatsu Copen was a 3395mm-long, 830kg front-wheel-drive convertible with a folding hardtop.

The new Kopen concepts continue to meet the Japanese market’s compact ‘kei car’ requirements being an identical length and powered by a turbocharged 660cc three-cylinder engine.

Daihatsu Kopen Concept - 3

Mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the three Daihatsu Kopen concepts all share the same basic exterior shape, headlights, tail-lights and interior layout, though, still have their own unique styling touches.

The green concept features a rugged look highlighted by large areas of plastic cladding and a heavily moulded bonnet and boot. Inside orange trim is accompanied by ambient green lighting.

Daihatsu Kopen Concept - 4

With common body panels, the blue and orange concepts are differentiated by wing mirror and wheel designs.

Looking closer to a possible final production prototype, the new concepts follow Daihatsu’s D-R Estate concept seen at last month’s Indonesia motor show and the D-X concept from the 2011 Tokyo show.

Daihatsu Kopen Concept - 7

Originally debuting in concept form at the 1999 Tokyo motor show, the first-generation Daihatsu Copen (pictured bottom) was sold in Japan with a 47kW/110Nm turbocharged 660cc four-cylinder but in limited overseas markets – including Australia until Toyota ceased local operations in 2006 – with a 50kW/100Nm turbocharged 1.3-litre unit.

With a new Kopen clearly in the works and the announcement of the Honda S660 concept also coming to Tokyo, previous speculation about Suzuki re-birthing its cult kei car competitor the Cappucino – based on the new Suzuki-engined Caterham Seven 165 – could prove more substantial then ever.

The 43rd Tokyo motor show opens its doors on November 20.

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Daihatsu Copen