New Perodua Alza: In new orbit

By GEORGE WONG | 18 August 2022

Perodua has a problem that's good to have — demand is outpacing supply. As a budget automaker, the popularity of its cars continue to grow and sales are doing well even in challenging times.

Its latest launch model, the Alza, has garnered an impressive 39,000 bookings within a short time, and Perodua is going all out in trying to fulfil orders as quickly as possible.

For those who book by June 30, they are promised their cars before the SST exemption expires at end-March 2023.

Two weeks after the new Alza launch in July, Perodua wasted no time in rustling up a media drive to put some distance between the MPV and its Rawang base.

The Kelantan capital looked like a good bet so off went the motley group of Malaysian media to the north-east.

More importantly, the 650km route Perodua plotted represented a good mix of typical Malaysian roads to be tackled such as smooth flowing highways, narrow twisties with patchy surfaces, hilly roads as well as bustling city streets. The return leg wasn't with the Alza but Firefly.

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Looks & features

The Alza has been vastly improved in terms of tech, comfort and safety, justifying higher prices than before. There's no manual Alza anymore as Perodua has trimmed the line-up to just 3 variants, and all use the Dual mode CVT (D-CVT), first seen in the Ativa.

The range starts with the X at RM62,500, H at RM68,000 and AV at RM75,500 (on-the-road without insurance). Gear-Up accessories are available as extra-cost options.

Perodua provided the AV variant for the test drive.

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Now in its second generation, the Alza is maturing into a solid product and looks unquestionably attractive. While its predeccessor was a decent rendition of an MPV, Perodua took lessons from customers and the competition to hone an even better product for 2022.

It's a bigger vehicle overall to better fit seven people in comfort. It gets a bold new grille and bumper that shows off the new styling to great effect. LED headlamps are standard and the LED taillights are now horizontally-oriented instead of vertically.

It certainly looks sporty for a family hauler as it comes with flared fenders and squats low. At 160mm, it has the same ground clearance as the Myvi, making for easier entry and exit for passengers as well as for easier loading of cargo.

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The Alza is the first Perodua model to get three drive modes, electronic parking brake, a 360-degree panoramic view monitor and a high console with softpad armrest.

The cabin is a testament to smart packaging with a two-tone dashboard complemented with a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen and a full digital cluster. The look is trendy without being fussy, and there are three USB ports and storage bins lining the cabin to make it a practical space.

Android Auto is supported while Apple CarPlay is coming.

The biggest selling point for an MPV is of course how much interior space it has and how versatile it can be.

Perodua cites five ways the seats can be set up to cater to different usages. The seating arrangements can vary from carrying 7 people to the typical 5-seat mode as well as flexi mode where the front passenger seat can be laid flat for, say, a long cargo item or an injured passenger in second row to rest his legs.

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One-touch tumble fold mid-row seats enables easy access to the third row, which is a little more roomier on account of the longer body (4,425 mm) and wider girth (1,730 mm) of the new Alza. The wheelbase remains the same as the old Alza at 2,750mm.

Seats are comfortable and supportive, with the seatbacks of both second and third row capable of reclining. While one might occasionally carry a full passenger load, the everyday scenario is to use the Alza as a 5-seater. More often than not, it's to ferry a mix of adults and children that takes some burden off from the engine.

Set the new Alza in 5-seat or 7-seat mode and it will offer cargo space of 498l and 137l respectively, a big improvement over the old one.

Enhancing cabin comfort are mid-row air-cond vents with three settings that cool the last 2 rows effectively.

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Safety features have also been upgraded. As the top variant, the AV gets the full works from the Perodua Smart Drive Assist, a suite of active safety systems to keep occupants safe.

The suite comprises camera and sensor-based response measures and assistance, to mitigate risks, reduce blind spots, and enhance safe driving.

Pre-collision braking, pedal misoperation control, electronic parking brake with auto brake hold, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive headlights are just some of the goodies included.

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Drive time

The over 8-hour journey traversed Batang Kali/Goh Tong Jaya and the East Coast Expressway before entering the Jalan Kelantan-Kuala Terengganu highway for a direct heading to Kota Baru.

So there's a good variety of tarmac for the Alza to run over.

For an MPV on a long distance jaunt, the impression one gets is a vehicle that's competent, comfortable and reassuring — backed by a raft of safety aids.

Steering is light yet accurate enough and brakes work well to bring the MPV quickly to a stop.

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In the early stage of the journey, there were many moments to swing the Alza through hilly terrain and body roll was well-restrained. The Power drive mode came in handy when the need to overtake or ascend arose.

Suspension was firm and pliant to absorb most rough road surfaces. The firmness is also necessary to ensure the low-riding Alza doesn't scrape the road when weighed down by 7 people.

The 1.5-litre engine makes 105hp and 138Nm of torque. It won't win any races but it gets the job done with fuel efficiency in mind.

The fuel consumption was 8.7 l/100km, a marked deviation from the official 4.5 l/100km. That was because the MPV was driven hard for a substantial part of the trip and did not reflect the less strenuous driving most Alza owners would subject it to.

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The Alza proved it was up to scratch when hauling six adults to dinner in Kota Baru without feeling like a sluggard, providing brisk response and sufficient pulling power. We reckoned the addition of one more person for a "full house" would have little impact on driving response.

Going uphill with three onboard was sprightly. Double the passenger load, as one publication did, and the engine and D-CVT would just redoubled their effort to pull off the challenge with a "can-do" spirit.

The cabin is relatively quiet at highway speeds but wind noise starts to seep in when the MPV is pushed harder, accompanied by an urgent-sounding engine note.

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Wrapping up

The latest Alza makes a compelling proposition as a middle-class family hauler and brings plenty of value that even the T20 affluent group can't ignore. With all the goodies it offers, it's also priced to succeed.

All said and done, the new Alza is all set for a new orbit.

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