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At the Perodua headquarters in Rawang, we spotted two pristine examples of the Perodua Kancil. The red model is the first car to roll off the company’s assembly line, while the newer blue car is the 500,000th Kancil made. So we thought we’d provide you with a full gallery of both cars to see just how far the new Axia (and Perodua itself) has come since the saga of the brand began 20 years ago.

Based on the L200 Daihatsu Mira, the Kancil was unveiled by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (now chairman of Proton) on August 29, 1994, with a base price of around RM25,000. This price tag made it Malaysia’s most affordable car, a title that has continued to be carried by its successors. Virtually everyone below a certain age with a driver’s licence has driven a Kancil before, as it became the default learner’s car almost immediately, replacing the Nissan Sunny.

Forget safety features like airbags, ABS or even rear seat belts, the red 660 cc Kancil above didn’t even come with power windows, power steering, central locking, a rev counter, a radio or – gasp! – a clock. About the only extra it contained was air-conditioning – it makes the bargain basement Axia Standard E variant look positively luxurious in comparison.

The Kancil went through two minor facelifts in 1997 and 2000 – the latter giving it a large chrome grille and two-tone bodywork. But it wasn’t until 2002 that the car received an extensive makeover that resulted in the blue car you see here.

There were new round headlamps, significantly reworked front and rear ends (including the rear number plate recess that was relocated to the tailgate from its original position on the bumper) and reshaped tail lamps. The interior is also completely new, with an instrument cluster that was moved to the centre of the dashboard. Various creature comforts also crept in over the years.

Perodua churned out this particular example, the 500,000th Kancil, on April 11, 2003. Four years later, the company introduced its successor, the Viva, which was based on the newer L250 Mira. But that car did not become Malaysia’s most affordable car, or at least, not yet – the base Kancil continued to be built to fill in the bottom of the range.

That lasted until July 20, 2009, when the last Kancil – unit number 722,223 – left the factory gates. Superseding the 15-year-old car was the base Viva 660 BX, retailing at exactly RM25,000 (now RM22,000 after prices were slashed in June ahead of the Axia’s launch). The interior is similarly basic (you did at least get a clock), but Perodua equipped all its models with dual airbags and front seat belt pretensioners in 2012, including its most kosong model.

The Ozzy Orange Viva you see above is the value-added 1.0 litre S, which retailed at RM35,200 (reduced to RM29,900 in June) and gets a four-speed automatic transmission, power steering, a driver’s side seat height adjuster and a MP3/WMA compatible stereo, among other things.

The latest chapter in the lineage of Perodua’s smallest car began two weeks ago with the launch of the Axia. Based on the Indonesian-market Daihatsu Ayla, the new model – this time powered solely by a 1.0 litre 1KR-DE2 three-pot, the first time all variants use the same engine – comes in at RM24,600 for the base E and features power steering and power windows as standard. A four-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating too!

This Lemongrass Green example is the G, with a RM32,800 price tag and such niceties as a neatly-integrated stereo, Isofix child seat anchors at the rear and the much vaunted anti-snatch hook.

So there you have it, a look at Malaysia’s most affordable cars – the Perodua Kancil, Viva and Axia – through the years. Did that get your memories flooding back?

First Perodua Kancil

500,000th Perodua Kancil

Perodua Viva S-Series

Perodua Axia Standard G