After checking out the stylish Daihatsu DN Compagno, we shifted attention to what’s possibly the most relevant (to Malaysia) showcar among Daihatsu’s 2017 Tokyo Motor Show concept cars.

The Daihatsu DN Trec is a compact SUV, and small SUVs are currently very popular everywhere outside of Japan. The Honda HR-V is the default choice in Malaysia, and there’s the Mazda CX-3 for those willing to sacrifice space/practicality for design and dynamics. The Toyota C-HR, while not yet launched, has been drawing in big crowds touring the nation.

Needless to say then that an affordable option by Perodua, and to a lesser extent Proton, will surely prove to be popular.

Perodua, Daihatsu’s “Malaysian wife” (Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh always refers to the Perodua-Daihatsu relationship as a happy marriage) and our market’s leader, has acknowledged the trend. In July, Aminar said that Perodua was “seriously considering” the introduction of a compact SUV.

For a company that has been traditionally tight-lipped on future plans, that was pretty much an admission that Perodua is working on something.

“SUVs seem to be the flavour of the day. It is not out of our range and we’re studying the feasibility of introducing such a model,” Aminar told then. The P2 chief also added that the company is now putting more resources into product planning as well as understanding consumers’ tastes.

The DN Trec is a design evolution of the FX Concept from 2015, shown here

With that as context, the Daihatsu DN Trec could very well be a preview of what’s to come. The B-segment “compact car” was created with the themes of “active, fun and tough” in mind, and is described by its maker as an active vehicle suitable for daily use and hobbies. That’s the standard spiel for any SUV, though.

The showcar is proposed with a 1.2 litre hybrid powertrain with a 1.0 litre turbo motor as an option. In his show opening speech, Daihatsu’s president Soichiro Okudaira mentioned hybrid and electric powertrains as part of Daihatsu’s future plans – that’s something new for the carmaker, which already makes some of the cleanest and fuel efficient cars around.

More pertinent is the DN Trec’s design. It’s a more refined version of the Daihatsu FX Concept that was showcased at the 2015 GIIAS show in Indonesia, and it appears production ready. The dashboard has also evolved into a futuristic yet realistic design, with a diving centre console.

Throw in a Toyota/Daihatsu 1.5 litre Dual VVT-i engine and we could be looking at a “new Perodua Kembara”. Like what you see?

GALLERY: Daihatsu FX Concept from GIIAS 2015