Back in 2014, I was in London to review the then brand new Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. Being a model from what is undoubtedly the best car maker in the world, I felt a little under qualified to review the car, even with over a decade of experience in reviewing cars. Rolls-Royce is after all, the purveyor of the most luxurious of cars since forever.
So I took it in my stride and wrote about the experience instead, of being picked up in a Phantom Drophead Coupe from the airport, spending a few nights at the Shard, driving a Coupe from London to Goodwood. I wrote about that instead of the Ghost, simply because the Ghost is just as you would imagine it to be – pretty darn good.
And then there are cars like the new Perodua Myvi. At about 5% of the asking price of a Ghost, the new Myvi too has its own set of charms, and honestly speaking, it too is pretty darn good at what it does, so good that I feel that a review is completely unnecessary as the car is so well specified that it could possibly sell itself. But instead of feeling under qualified to review the Myvi, I was complete blown away. Perodua has set the benchmark for B Segment cars so high that the competition may have a tough time catching up. My thoughts go out to the engineers at Proton who will undoubtedly be under immense pressure.
So what makes the Myvi so good? I’ll break it down into bite sized chunks:
There is no doubt that the Myvi is breathtakingly good looking. During the one week that I had the car, at least four different people mistook the Myvi for a Volkswagen. It also reminded me of a car I once had a five year affair with, the Renault Clio RS 197. From some angles at least.
It is also simply amazing that Perodua is offering LED headlights for even its entry level Myvi. Car makers from all over the world have a lot to learn from Malaysia’s second national car maker. Then there are the retractable side mirrors available on the entry level models too. But other highlights like the front and side skirts, spoiler and 15-inch wheels are reserved for the higher spec 1.5-litre variants only.
The new Myvi is bigger all around than the older car, though slightly lower to held reduce drag and increase efficiency. The bigger dimensions are immediately noticeable, even from the inside. So my father and I are not exactly regular sized Malaysians. We are broad people who need plenty of shoulder room. So one night after an eventful evening with the family, the wife and mother decide to take the two front seats for the ride back home, while father and I tooj the rear. And that is where we found that you could fit another similarly sized person in between us and we would still be comfortable.
Interior space is vast in the Myvi, and makes it one of, if not the most family friendly cars for its price. And it also comes with Isofix child car seat attachment points, and it also comes with six airbags while some more expensive cars only come with two or four airbags.
Perodua is offering two different engines for the Myvi, a 1.3-litre and a 1.5-litre. But I only drove the top of the line 1.5 AV. So the engine produces 102hp at 6,000rpm and 136Nm of torque at 4,200rpm. The engine is not exactly powerful, and being paired to a dated four-speed gearbox makes it feel like it is always dragging itself even at high speed. But despite the low-tech, Perodua has managed to tune the powertrain to be incredibly frugal, needing just a litre of fuel to travel 20.1 kilometers! That is very impressive considering that the fuel tank has a capacity of 36 litres, giving the car a theoretical range of 723 kilometers with the Eco Idle system. That would very much depend on your driving style, but it is very possible.
Ride & Handling
I am just going to address the elephant in the room here and get straight to the point, the Myvi does not handle very well at high speed. The handling is sloppy and requires constant steering input. It is obvious that the suspension has been tuned for comfort rather than total control. At the launch of the car, Perodua said that the increased body rigidity provides better stability, well the car is undoubtedly stable, but it behaves more like a blunt butter knife than a damascus knife.
Interior noise insulation though is good, among the best from both our national car makers, so top points there.
Now this is where you have to manage your expectations a little. So far the car has been great, it looks great, has a ton of features and generally makes you feel quite good. So naturally you would expect the interior to be brilliant as well, and though it is spacious and generally a nice place to be in, the one part that could do better though is the quality of the interior.
But then again, on the topic of expectations, lets keep in mind that this is a car that costs RM55,300, which is a bargain for the amount of technology you are getting. So then we are back at the Rolls-Royce factor again, just as I felt like I couldn’t criticize the maker of the best car in the world, I again feel like I really shouldn’t be complaining about a car that costs so little and yet offers so much. It almost seems that some of its shortcomings are forgivable.
Perhaps it is just my expectation but some of the parts lack quality. The steering wheel feels great in your hand, but I found that the seats were too thinly padded, and did not offer enough thigh support. Then there is the all important “door-clunk” factor, where the quality of a car can be gauged by the sound made by the door as it closes. A hallow thud is usually found in cars of the lower price segment, and I know that the Myvi does technically sit in that segment, but the company has made huge strides forward that it really does deserve a standing ovation, and that is exactly why I feel that something as elementary as how the closing of a door can make an owner feel, or the sound of the rain bouncing off the roof, should have also been addressed. Maybe it is reserved for the face lifted model.
But credit is also due for the amount of interior features the Myvi offers. I want to make a special mention of the built in toll reader, a device located on the right hand side of the dashboard that functions as an integrated Smart Tag. You simply have to insert your Touch n’Go card in a dedicated slot by your right knee, and that’s it. No more fumbling around looking for your Smart Tag, and because the device alerts you when your balance goes down to RM10, you can minimise embarrassing moments at the toll when you have zero credit. Shame on every other car maker for not localizing their cars to the Malaysian environment. This is an example of smart thinking from Perodua, bravo!
The keyless entry is also always a great feature to have for any car, and so is driver seat height adjustment (a feature that taller drivers will always appreciate). I also think that it is really cool that the air-conditioning system in the Myvi has a memory function that is able to remember two different air-cond functions with dedicated buttons called Memory 1 and Memory 2. And the fact that there is also a USB port located on the side of the driver’s seat so that the rear passengers can charge their electronics while traveling. And yes, Perodua did also think of a fabric mesh to store items like your phone as they are being charged. Brilliant, is the only word to describe this.
And just to make it even more friendly for daily life, the seats can be configured in nine different ways to accommodate everything from a slumber party to Ikea runs.
So that is that then. I can go on and on about how good the new Myvi is and why everyone should buy it. The car I tested was of course the flagship model so it came with all the tricks and features, I look forward to testing the entry level model too as I hear good things about it. But for what it is, the new Myvi is so good that future generations will remember it.
Perodua Myvi 1.5L AV