The start of the Indonesia international Motor Show saw the arrival of the Daihatsu Ayla hatchback, as well as that of its Toyota sibling, the Agya. The two debutants are set to go head to head against the Mitsubishi Mirage, which also made its Indonesian debut at the show.

We’ll start with the Ayla – the five-door hatch, the company says, has been designed to meet the needs of car users in the country, working on the basis of being fuel efficient, spacious and affordable. If the shape looks a bit familiar, that’s because you’ve seen a mix of its lines on the Daihatsu A-Concept seen in last year’s IIMS as well as the e:S Mira. The Ayla is based on the e:S Mira.

There weren’t any specifications mentioned in the overall show brochure beyond stating that the little car – which measures in at 3,580 mm long, 1,600 mm wide and 1,510 mm tall – punches above its weight, offering a comfortable and spacious cabin, a minimum turning radius for easy maneouvreability in narrow streets and a high ground clearance “best suited to the way in Indonesia.”

Nothing a bit of digging around couldn’t solve. The Ayla is powered by a 997cc three-cylinder mill, the D26F-1KR-DE. The 69 kg aluminium-block unit, which is 10 kg lighter than the 1.0 litre cast-iron block equivalent, offers 65 hp at 6,000 rpm and a rather low-ish 87 Nm of twist at 3,600 rpm. As for drivetrain choices, it’s a five-speed manual and a four-speed auto for this little five-seater.

Three variants of the Ayla will go on sale in the Indonesian market, the entry-level Type D, medium specification Type M and range-topping Type X.

When they mean entry-level, they do mean entry-level – the Type D comes without air-conditioning and an audio system, to give you an idea of how affordable means omitting some of the mod-cons. It does mean however that the Ayla can be had for as low as Rp 75 million (RM24,100). Local content is claimed to be 84% for the car (and likewise, the Agya). As for colours, there are six choices on call for the car, three metallic and three solid.

The arrival of the little car does throw some conjecture about, especially with regards to Malaysia’s position as the perceived passenger car center for ASEAN.

For the longest time, Toyota/Daihatsu Indonesia (or Astra Toyota/Daihatsu, if you will) didn’t really sell passenger-style cars, working the beat with more “commercial-based” offerings like the Avanza and Innova. Daihatsu didn’t bother building the Sirion in Indonesia, instead importing Myvis from here and slapping on Daihatsu badging on them.

But the change is coming, and how – we first saw signs of this with the A-Concept, and now production of Toyota/Daihatsu passenger cars is concentrated in Thailand and Indonesia. The Japanese automaker has signalled its intent for Indonesia, stating that it aims to launch more than four models in the next four years as well as produce 300,000 units a year here.

Which leads to the question – has Perodua failed to grab an opportunity to be the small passenger green car hub for Toyota/Daihatsu in the region? The Ayla and Agya show that this might very well be the case, and we might also well be looking at the new Viva-replacement.