Bookings for the new SUV have opened, and there are three variants - X, H and AV - at prices estimated between RM62,500 and RM73,400, on-the-road before insurance in Peninsular Malaysia.
The new SUV will be officially launched on March 3 via an online platform, and the Internet is rife with rumours that the small SUV would be called the Ativa.
As full specifications and features of the new SUV are under a media embargo until March 3, Carsifu is somewhat constrained in our reporting on the new SUV.
However, it is an open secret that it shares key underpinnings with the Daihatsu Rocky (also offered as the Toyota Raize in Japan), which is the second DNGA (Daihatsu New Global Architecture) car after the Daihatsu Tanto.
The five-seater Rocky/Raize was launched in Japan in November 2019, and has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a D-CVT (dual mode continuously variable transmission), which produces 97hp and 140Nm of torque.
With a kerb weight of less than a tonne (at 970kg to 980kg), it has a better power-to-weight ratio than some non-turbocharged B-segment sedans.
The D-CVT has a split gear ― used in a Toyota vehicle for the first time ― to enable better fuel efficiency, acceleration feel, and quietness.
Toyota bills the 1.0-litre turbocharged Raize as providing the torque of a 1.5-litre engine at a variety of engine speeds, from low speeds upwards, which results in powerful acceleration.
If the driver needs even quicker throttle response, there is a Power button (which changes the powertrain mapping) on the steering wheel on the Rocky/Raize.
In Japan, the two-wheel drive Rocky/Raize is rated with a fuel efficiency of 18.6km per litre on the WLTC (World Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Cycle).
The Rocky/Raize in Japan is fitted with 17-inch wheels.
It measures 3,995mm (length); 1,695mm (width) and 1,620mm (height) which means it is 440mm shorter and 120mm lower than the seven-seater Perodua Aruz SUV.
The distance between the front and rear seats is a generous 900mm, thus delivering spacious rear legroom.
The Rocky/Raize has a 369-litre rear luggage area which is designed with a moveable deck board that covers an 80-litre under-trunk compartment (to store a tyre repair kit and tools).
As Perodua has revealed, the new SUV is its most advanced car with an array of advanced functions and safety technologies.
Equipped on all variants is the Advanced Safety Assist (ASA), which is similar to Daihatsu's Smart Assist crash-avoidance assist system, that detects vehicles in front and avoids the risk of a crash or minimises damage at low speeds.
Daihatsu's Smart Assist has functions such as automatic braking to assist low-speed crash avoidance (Pre-collision warning and braking) , accelerator pedal mis-operation control, and notification of motion of a vehicle in front (Front Departure Alert)- similar to the current Myvi's ASA.
The latest ASA on the new SUV features higher operating speeds than the current version on the Myvi and is capable of detecting two-wheeled vehicles.
Also on all variants are Lane Departure Warning and Prevention - alerts driver of unintended lane departure using buzzing sound and warning indicator light.
The top AV exclusively gets Lane Keep Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control.
All these features make the D55L SUV the first Perodua model to satisfy Level 2 Autonomous Driving standards.
Lane Keep Control can detect road lines on both sides, keep car in the middle of the lane, via automatic steering control.
Adaptive Cruise Control allows for automatic acceleration and deceleration, depending on speed of vehicle in front; it can detect both cars and motorcycles, and the driver can set vehicle speed from 30kph to 125kph.
Blind Spot Monitor alerts the driver of vehicles in the blind spot, via a buzzing sound and flashing indicator on the left wing mirror.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert alerts the driver of oncoming vehicles passing behind when reversing, via a buzzing sound.
Test drive at Perodua test track
As abovementioned, full specifications and features of the new SUV are under a media embargo until March 3, and Carsifu is somewhat constrained in our reporting on the new SUV.
Still, at the Perodua test track in Rawang, the new SUV did not feel underpowered at all, with two adults inside.
The test track has a mix of long straight stretches and hilly areas, as well as bumpy and irregular-surfaced stretches to simulate bad roads, and sharp banked corners.
Acceleration was smooth on mild hill climbs, and on the straight stretch of the test track, we quickly picked up speed to 110kph.
Power delivery was smooth and linear.
As expected, the electric power steering felt very light and vague - perfect for those who like effortless steering.
We took the sharp banked corners at some speed, and the SUV felt composed, with hardly any discernible body roll.
The test drive was very brief, but the overall impression is the SUV provides a quiet, smooth and refined drive.
While a highway and B-road drive might provide a different story, we felt that the new SUV sets a new benchmark for a Perodua car in terms of driving refinement.
The test drive units provided were the flagship AV variants fitted with 17-inch wheels, and the fit and finish in the leather-clad cabin was of a high quality.
Unlike Perodua cars like the Bezza, Axia and Myvi, this SUV does not have the uniquely Malaysian market features of the "shopping bag" hooks on the front seat-backs, or anti-theft "handbag" hook on the side of the front passenger seat.
What you get is a deep centre storage box with an arm-rest lid, between the front seats.
We also used the Lane Keep Control and Adaptive Cruise Control features, and it is amazing that they are in a Perodua car here at RM73,400.
These are advanced driving assistance features found in more expensive cars. and you would need to pay a lot more (around RM30,000 extra) to find them in the flagship Proton X50 variant.
This is the best-looking interior ever for a Perodua, and in terms of features, design, fit and finish, powertrain technology and pricing, the new SUV delivers on a level that the non-national B-segment sedans will find hard to match.
We dare say the new SUV will be flying off the shelves, and be the most popular SUV in Malaysia.
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