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[ UPDATE: The Naza Sutera is now known as the Naza Forza. Click the link for a test drive report. ]

Naza has launched it’s new car, the Naza Sutera on Saturday, 22nd April 2006. It’s launch coincides with the launch of Naza’s new RM1.3 billion in Bertam, Kepala Batas. The Naza Sutera is a 1.1 litre small car focusing on economy and is based on a little Chinese car called the Hafei Lobo. Naza developed the Naza Sutera with an investment of RM200 million.


sutera_back.jpgThis is Naza’s 4th car, with the first 3 being the Kia-licensed Naza Ria, Naza Citra and the Naza Sorento. The Naza Sutera is a 5-door mini car powered by a 1.1 litre DOHC 16 valve EFI engine which makes 65hp of power at 5700rpm and 88Nm of torque between 2500-3000rpm. It’s not the fastest thing around, but the low peak torque should prove to be convenient during stop-and-go city driving. The engine is Chinese-made, but is said to be based on a Japanese design. It takes RON92 petrol, which is slightly cheaper than RON97 petrol which is currently RM1.88 versus RM1.92 per litre. The Naza Sutera has a 40-litre fuel tank, so that should cost RM76.80 with RON97 petrol and RM75.20 with RON92 petrol for a full tank of petrol. Right now the Naza Sutera 1.1 litre only comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, but an automatic variant is coming soon.

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The original manufacturer, Hafei had commissioned Pininfarina of Italy to design the body, but Naza had did some of their own rebranding and I think it turned out so much more better than the original. The front face reminds me of a Ford, including the Naza badge which seems pretty Ford-ish to me, words in an oval badge. The design is quite sporty, with large gaping air vents in the bumper. BTW, notice the windscreen wipers? Both wipers are positioned at opposite sides of the car, like the new Honda Civic‘s wipers.

Wheels are 165/55/R14, so they should be pretty cheap to change as compared to the Proton Savvy’s 15 inch ones. The suspension was developed by Lotus Engineering in the UK, but Naza tweaked it to be softer to suit Malaysian tastes. Suspension are independant MacPherson struts in front, and a trailing beam at the back which is very common with cars like this. Also unlike the Perodua Kancil, the car comes with a power steering.

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The interior has a center-mounted dashboard meter console. The meter console is straight like the Nissan X-Trail instead of angled towards the driver like the Perodua Kancil and Toyota Vios. The higher spec GSi model has a silver trimmed interior scheme while the base GS model has a graphite trimmed interior. Everything else is cream-coloured to give the interior a more spacious look. Storage spaces include the basic amneties like a cup-holder. There is also a front console pocket and a center console pocket. And the glovebox of course. The dashboard center area reminds me of the Mitsubishi Lancer’s. Functional, and simple. The Naza Sutera has power windows for the front windows and manual wind-up windows for the rear windows.

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Both the high-trim GSi and the lower-end GS model comes with a single-DIN sized MP3 CD player and 4-speakers as well as 2 tweeters. The GSi model has a reverse sensor built into the audio system while the GS model has no reverse sensor. But a car this size should be pretty easy to reverse pack, and even more easy with the lack of a boot. Pictures above is the interior trim for the Naza Sutera GSi, which has silver trim. Below is the graphite version of the interior trim which is offered on the Naza Sutera GS.

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In terms of safety features, you’ll be pleased to know that all Naza Sutera models will come equipped with dual airbags as standard. One for the driver, and one for the passanger.

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The overall theme of the car seems to be triangles. Funky triangular signal lamps at the base of the A-pillar, triangular door handle indentations and triangular rear brakelights. The rear brakelights are of the crystal type of design, with individual clearly separated turn, brake and reverse lights in the cluster.

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The rear hatch opens upwards to reveal a boot. Nothing too fantastic, but the rear seats can be folded down to extend storage space in case you decided to bring the Naza Sutera to do some Ikea shopping!

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The Naza Sutera GS is priced at RM35,998 while the Naza Sutera GSi will cost RM36,998. Colour options available are Mercury Silver, Sunburst Orange, Pacifica Blue, and Fusion Green for the Naza Sutera GS, while the Naza Sutera GSi Sport has two colour options which are Onyx Black and Citrine Yellow. Slightly sportier colours. If you don’t mind the lack of an automatic transmission and want a cheap car with airbags, do check the Naza Sutera out.

For those that want something a bit bigger, stay tuned for the launch of the Naza NX-02 which will be based on the French hatchback Peugeot 206, slated to be unveiled in the middle of May 2006.

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Pictured above is the original Hafei Lobo 1.1 litre left-hand drive car from China. Hafei wants to focus on the left-hand drive market, so Naza licensed the platform to concentrate on the right-hand drive market. Smart partnership.

The Naza Sutera has a production run of 30,000 units a year currently, with 20,000 for the local market and 10,000 destined for export. The launch ceremony had importers from right-hand drive foreign countries like Malta, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Brunei, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore attending it and agreements for the export of the Naza Sutera to their countries were signed. The initial export market for the car would be ASEAN countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. Naza also might open an assembly plant overseas, with India identified as a possible location. South Africa’s Essa Motors dealer principal Farouk Ebrahim Essa said the Naza Sutera had better build quality than it’s main competitor in South Africa the Tata Indica, and could easily capture 10% of the market share there in due time. IM Group from the UK said it plans to introduce the Naza Sutera there in 6 months’ time, however some slightly localisation is required.

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Naza NX-02/Naza Bestari open for booking