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Here it is – the new Perodua Alza! We’ve been following the development of this MPV ever since we first got news of its existence back in early 2008, where it was reported that Toyota and Daihatsu were going to build a new MPV and produce it in Indonesia. When the Daihatsu Luxio MPV came out we all got a shock – that more of a van so we waited patiently until Christmas last year when the Toyota Passo Sette was finally unveiled in Japan. Nearly a year later, the Perodua-badged model with a new front, rear and interior is here. Read the full details after the jump.

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Alot of people that are casually (not urgent) in the market for an MPV will have probably been waiting for the D46T project to be launched for a long time now. After all, the majority of the country can only afford either a Proton or a Perodua, and you really have to wonder why it took them so long to serve this market niche when all of its competitors have been priced out of affordability.

The national MPVs should have come sooner so that consumers who have big families would not have needed to stuff their 5-seaters to the brim whenever they needed to balik kampung.

I have to say that with the Myvi, the Japanese Passo looked better, but with the Alza I feel our own Malaysian design team has trumped the Japanese guys. The Passo Sette had this slightly bulgy-eyed look while the Alza looks far more sleeker. I don’t see any reason why anyone would want to ‘convert’ their Alza back to a Passo Sette but then again design is a subjective personal thing.

As for the name Alza, it actually means ‘to rise’ in Spanish. Probably symbolises Perodua rising up the product segments once again – its cars are getting bigger and bigger.

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The Perodua Alza’s headlamps also come with projector lenses for the main beam across the entire line-up. I’m not saying you should be doing this but for those that want to retrofit HID bulbs to the Alza, the projector lenses will result in a relatively cleaner and nicer looking light beam.

On the rear you get LED tail lamps and for the Premium version you also get a spoiler. There is a bee sting antenna located towards the rear of the roof but towards the left rear instead of being positioned smack in the middle. Perodua says this is so that the owner will be able to flip the antenna down when required easily as compared to if it was in the middle. There are a few colours to choose from but personally I’m digging the Classy Purple, which is a new colour.

How much is the new Perodua Alza?

So anyway, here we are finally, the Perodua Alza. The smaller MPV also comes with a smaller price tag, though Proton has worked to introduce the Exora Basic as well. Perodua says the Alza project first started off as the D46T about 3 years ago. The Japanese version was unveiled on Christmas day last year.

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It’s cheaper than the Exora though technically it isn’t the cheapest in the market. Changan-Berjaya sells their Chana Era CM8 “van” at prices starting from under RM40k.

Perodua Alza 1.5L Standard M/T
Solid – RM55,490
Metallic – RM55,990
S. Metallic – RM56,190
Perodua Alza 1.5L Standard A/T
Solid – RM58,490
Metallic – RM58,990
S. Metallic – RM59,190
Perodua Alza 1.5L Premium M/T
Solid – RM60,490
Metallic – RM60,990
S. Metallic – RM61,190
Perodua Alza 1.5L Premium A/T
Solid – RM63,490
Metallic – RM63,990
S. Metallic – RM64,190

*S. Metallic – Pearl White

Datuk Syed Hafiz revealed that a sportier version with a bodykit, GPS navigation and a reverse camera will be introduced in March 2010, though I think showrooms are already taking bookings for this version now. This model will be premium and auto-only, and will go for RM69,990 which is RM6k on top of the Metallic Premium automatic.

How big is the Perodua Alza?

  Alza Exora Livina 1.6 Avanza 1.5 Rondo Innova
Kerb Weight 1,150kg 1,422kg 1,245kg 1,120kg 1,563kg 1,575kg
Length 4,205 4,592 4,420 4,150 4,545 4,580
Width 1,695 1,809 1,690 1,630 1,800 1,770
Height 1,620 1,691 1,590 1,695 1,650 1,755
Wheelbase 2,750 2,730 2,600 2,655 2,700 2,750
Track (F) 1,475 1,542 1,470 1,415 1,573 1,510
Track (R) 1,465 1,530 1,475 1,425 1,569 1,510
Fuel Tank 42L 55L 52L 45L 55L 55L
Power (hp) 104hp 125hp 104hp 108hp 142hp 134hp
Torque (Nm) 136Nm 150Nm 150Nm 141Nm 189Nm 182Nm
kg/Nm 8.45 9.48 8.3 7.94 8.27 8.65

Above you will find a comparison of various MPVs available in the Malaysian market. The Alza’s power output and weight is actually quite similiar to the Avanza’s, which means performance should be comparable. The Alza and Avanza actually use the same 3SZ-VE engine though the Alza’s is transverse and the Avanza’s is longitudinal for rear wheel drive installation. There is a discrepancy with the power figures quoted above for the Alza and Avanza engine, but I think it’s because Perodua gave DIN numbers while the Toyota numbers are a different kind of measurement.

Is there enough power?

When we drove the Alza under a load of 4 to 5 people it was quite possible to drive in a relaxed manner, though pace was rather hampered. Driving it in a “youthful” manner with hurried progress called for the engine to be revved into the upper boundaries of the rev range most of the time. What made it worse is the fact that the engines did not seem to be run in properly, and most of us in the same car agreed.

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Veteran journo Leeps (who went ahead and bought one after the media preview drive) described it as being kinda ‘tight’, while to me the sensation was of an inconsistent torque curve (also reflected in RPM needle progress) that kept dipping randomly. It’s really quite a bummer as when things like this happens it does not reflect the car’s actual performance (just like the Mazda 3 review unit earlier this year), leaving a big blank question mark in my review expectations. So watch out for another review later, as this is pretty much just a preview drive in a circle around the Shangrila Putrajaya, though there was some very nice curves and uphills and downhills.

With regards to the revviness, you really can’t run away from this kind of engine behaviour if you try to drive it like a sports car under heavy loads. The engine has no problems taking the car around gently. I really wouldn’t consider it a significant improvement over the Exora but I found throttle response to be zipper compared to the Campro CPS. Thankfully the sound insulation for the Alza preview drive units (and the Exora) are sufficient to supress any excessive vibrations. The Alza’s engine remained sounding refined up to the redline, despite the inconsistent power delivery issues.

How big is the Alza on the inside?

When I saw the specs list it looked promising as the Alza has got a wheelbase of 2,750mm which is even longer than the Exora’s. But it really depends on how you package the vehicle together so a longer wheelbase may not translate to a longer interior space. Perodua has provided some data on the Alza’s interior dimensions.

Perodua Alza
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The first row is great. The seats can go back as much as I want it to and the ergonomics for the manual transmission gear lever seems better than the Myvi as I didn’t feel it was too far up front. The automatic transmission model’s shift lever is positioned at the dashboard while the handbrake is actually a foot brake. This frees up the space in between the front two seats, but instead of leaving it empty Perodua decided to extend the driver seat leftwards to fill up the space.

But that space cannot really be used as a seat because the part of the dashboard with the air cond panel and the gear lever juts out too much. I also like the armrest that you can fold down – it feels quite soft.

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I did not like the fact that the manual model had no arm rests so I suggested to the Perodua engineers that accompanied us during the drive that perhaps they should add a seat-mounted armrest like the Honda CRV’s to the manual model. They took note of it.

The center meter panel is lit up with blue and white illumination with the Premium model while the regular model gets amber illumination, though both are of the self-illuminating Optitron type. There is only manual air conditioning controls available and they look like the same parts used in the Vios.

Perodua Alza First Row

The second row has the ability to slide back and forth. In a sliding mechanism there is less space freed up for third row passengers to get proper footing on the way out compared to a tumble-fold mechanism so there is a short overslide where you can slide it little extra towards the front to help the third row passengers get out.

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Because of the low roof and the generally tight space it’s not easy to get into the back. And while I could sit in the third row of the Exora without my knee touching the second row (albeit a little uncomfortably due to not so optimum leg angles), sitting in the third row of the Alza resulted in my knee pushing against the second row seat back. A good thing the seat back is made of a soft material. But then again I am 181cm so please head on to the showroom to check out the Alza to see if it fits your space requirements. BTW, the third row is a single bench with no split.

Perodua Alza 2nd row exit problem

And then there is also the issue of an awkward exit for an adult in the second row when you have set the position of the second row to allow for someone to sit comfortably in the third row. Your feet will actually be positioned way in front of the B pillar, so you’ll have to make awkward maneuvers with your leg in order to get out properly.

There’s no issue in exiting the second row when you have the second row pushed far back, but you can’t do that when there are people in the third row waiting for you to get out of the car so they can get out themselves! So there’s really no solution for the awkward 2nd row exit and its an ergonomic flaw.

Perodua Alza Third Row Down

If I were to buy an Alza I would just great it as a 5 seater and leave the third row permanently down. Then I would slide the second row all the way to the back so that all four to five passengers in the car can get good legroom. To me, this isn’t an Exora competitor but more of a Persona/Waja competitor.

The Alza is best used as wagon substitute for a sedan. The same space as a sedan (perhaps even better) and a more flexible storage area. When you turn it into an MPV, somehow there are just too many compromises to be made, unless you are talking about children only for the third row. In that situation it would probably work great!

If you’re worried about not getting used to the foot brake initially and always leaving it activated while you drive off, according to the specs list there’s supposed to be a little buzzer that warns you about it although I did not try it myself.

How’s the luggage space?

Perodua Alza Boot

I’ll let the photo speak for itself. The luggage space depth is about 30cm but the third row kinda slants rearwards so you have more of a triangular wedge kind of boot space. WIth the third row folded, the luggage space grows up to 89.5cm in length. It’s a Myvi with a good sized boot. And BTW, yes there is a spare tyre located under the car but it s a temp tyre and not a full sized tyre.

Compartments

You can click the image above to view all the various compartments in the car. There are loads of cupholders.

How does the Perodua Alza handle?

Test Drive
Click to view our test drive route

The Alza behaves surprisingly decently around the bends on our test route. It’s definitely better than the Myvi. All four of us in the Alza 1.5 Premium A/T were all pleasantly surprised by this. I also had no complaints about the weighting of the power steering system – a decent weight makes it easier to point instead of being overassisted where it turns too easily and makes it hard for the driver to hold it in the position he or she wants through a bend.

When I asked the engineers, they said the Alza had improved suspension settings and it was likely that the biggest contributor to the Alza’s decent behaviour around corners is the addition of a rear stabilizer bar. The Myvi does not have this.

alza-manual

The rest of the suspension layout is similiar to the Myvi’s – MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion bar at the rear. The wheels are 15 inchers across the range and the tyres are 185/55R15.

The manual gearshift while in a good position to be reached of course does not offer Civic Type R kind of shift feel. It feels very rubbery and for some reason the feel of putting it into first gear is just somehow tak sedap, like it only goes in half way or something, without much feedback to you that the gear is in position. The rest of the gear positions feel ordinary.

Malaysia is a hot country – how is the air conditioning?

I think this is one of the most important features in an MPV. Stuffing many annoyed people in a hot vehicle is surely a recipe for family arguments! There is only one blower in the Perodua Alza and dashboard-level air conditioning vents are only available at the front.

Perodua Alza Air Conditioning
Click for enlarged image

Perodua says the interior of the Alza’s low roof helps with the air circulation. You can click the image above to test out some test results on air conditioning performance that they’ve released. The tests were performed with a starting cabin temperature of 55 degrees Celcius and test results were obtained after 11 minutes of driving with the air cond at maximum performance.

I tried sitting in the rear bench with the air cond blower turned up and I was surprised that there was sufficient air cond breeze reaching me. I could even feel the blower air hitting my face when I was standing outside the rear of the car with the boot open. Based on our short driving experience in late morning temperature conditions, I believe the air conditioning system performs sufficiently though you’ll probably have to wait a few minutes for the last row to be cool and comfy.

Are there any safety features?

Yes, only for the premium version, which gets the full ABS and dual SRS airbags treatment. I’m not sure if I can even call that full since we can get 4 airbags in a car below RM100k now – in the Peugeot 308. Even Proton is guilty of this – 2 airbags is the most you can get in any Proton sold in Malaysia.

The standard version is devoid of any safety features whatsoever other than your usual crumple zone and the chassis. ABS, EBD and dual SRS airbags are only available for the premium version, which I find is just plain skimping on specifications. Why couldn’t they have left a single airbag for the standard version? There are also no ISOFIX points anywhere in the car, so you’ll be forced to strap your baby chair with seatbelts (as per some reader’s request, please read my long rant about ISOFIX in this story).

What about the Alza’s Fuel Consumption?

Its premature to talk about fuel consumption at this point of time considering we drove only a few km around Shangrila Putrajaya. Logically I don’t expect the Alza to perform great in terms of fuel efficiency if you have a full load but it’s probably still going to be cheaper than if you take two cars.

Perodua claims 12.7 km per litres with the automatic transmission model and 15.5 km per litres with the manual transmission model. This is based on their own internal “Perodua mixed mode test”, so these numbers will be different from the Passo Sette’s which are based on Japan 10-15 mode.

The Alza’s multi-info display meter integrated in the center dashboard has the ability to show you your average fuel consumption in litres per 100km, and your remaining range based on the fuel remaining in your fuel tank in terms of km.

I will be requesting for a test drive unit later in order to do some day to day driving with only one or two people in the car and measure the overall fuel consumption. I’ll also be trying to measure the fuel consumption on a full load on a short trip somewhere. I believe with these two figures you can get a better picture of the kind of fuel money you’ll be forking out if you own an Alza.

The Perodua Alza drives decently (you honestly can’t say the Alza handles like a boat or the usual stuff that gets said about the Myvi) and offers a lot of space inside, as long as you don’t actually use it as an MPV. At the kind of prices Perodua is asking for, it could become an alternative to sedans from Proton or the Korean manufacturers, or for those who have the spare cash and want something newer than the Myvi, with a bigger bootspace. Just buy the Premium version to make sure you get all the necessary safety equipment. But if you are looking for an alternative to the Exora or any other MPV, you’ll have to think twice if you need it to fit 7 adults.

Perodua Alza – Classy Purple

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Perodua Alza – Ivory White

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Perodua Alza – Glittering Silver

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Perodua Alza – Interior

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Perodua Alza – with people as a reference

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Perodua Alza – Seating Arrangement

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Perodua Alza – Air Conditioning

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Perodua Alza – Engine and Safety

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Perodua Alza – Chassis Exhibit

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VIDEO: Perodua Alza TVC


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