In July 2017, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said that the company is seriously considering the introduction of a compact SUV. It was as strong a hint as possible from a traditionally tight-lipped company on an upcoming model, which would most likely light up the sales charts.

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

The topic of a Perodua SUV surfaced in this morning’s BFM 89.9 Breakfast Grille, but Aminar gave away little. “We have just launched the new Myvi, the focus is on the new Myvi. Having said that, the SUV remains on our radar chart. We’re still studying what’s the trend, what’s the market trend like. What are the consumer sentiments towards the SUV? So it’s still too early. It’s still at an investigative stage,” he said on air.

Pressed further on Malaysians’ appetite for SUVs, which is growing along with the global trend, he said: “Initial studies seem to suggest that, but whether it’s concrete, whether it’s a conclusion, we have not reached that level yet. I’m saying that also because if you were to look at what we have achieved in 2017 – compact vehicles, hatchbacks, our Bezza and the rest – they are still doing relatively well. So still too early, but we do know there seems to be that appetite. So it’s something that we are watching very closely.”

Some might say that Perodua leads the market by default, as it markets the most affordable cars in Malaysia. The common perception is that people buy Perodua cars just because they are cheap and reliable, but as the 85:15 1.5L:1.3L ratio for Myvi bookings show, certain demographics are willing to shell out more for good features at good value.

The overwhelming and unexpected demand for the Myvi 1.5L is a “good problem to have” for Perodua, as the Perodua chief puts it, but cost and price are always important factors for a manufacturer of affordable compact cars.

“Price is always an important factor. It is a decision making factor. But having said that, we would still like to make it as affordable as possible. Cost is an issue, cost is something that we need to manage. Cost is something that we have to work with. Not just us internally. It’s our suppliers, it’s our vendors, it’s our principals,” Aminar said.

He added that the psychological price point for Perodua cars is RM60,000. “If you look at the models we are offering so far, the four models, those are all below RM60,000. We believe that at this point in time, that seems to be that psychological line. But having said that, cost is something beyond our control; materials and the rest. If it has to come to that, we have to make certain decisions. We have to make certain adjustments,” he said.

Will you be willing to pay say, RM70,000 for a Perodua SUV with the Myvi’s powertrain and features? The new Daihatsu Terios was recently launched in Indonesia to take on SUV-flavoured MPVs such as the Honda BR-V and Mitsubishi Xpander. The twin of the also-new Toyota Rush is a high-riding seven-seater with our Myvi’s powertrain.

At last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Daihatsu revealed the DN Trec Concept, which is a more refined version of the Daihatsu FX Concept that was showcased at the 2015 GIIAS show in Indonesia. It looks production-ready. This one’s a five-seater car-based crossover that could be a budget rival to B-segment SUVs such as the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. Throw in the Myvi’s powertrain and this could well be a modern day Perodua Kembara. Which would you prefer?

GALLERY: Daihatsu Terios

GALLERY: Daihatsu DN Trec Concept