With all the hype surrounding the Perodua Ativa and its official launch event tomorrow (March 3), perhaps it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane to a time when motor shows were a thing.

Anyone remember the Daihatsu DN Trec? The concept SUV, which was an evolved version of the FX Concept, was first shown at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, and like many concept cars, it didn’t really stir up public interest. But at the time, Malaysian SUV buyers were already infatuated with the Honda HR-V, and the imminent arrival of the Proton X70 probably drew away much of the attention the DN Trec could have possibly gotten.

During our visit to Japan that year, former Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said that P2 was “seriously considering” the introduction of a compact SUV. “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,” he said.

Little did we know, the DN Trec concept would go on to form the base of Perodua’s most anticipated SUV yet. In terms of styling, the concept is actually much closer to the Toyota Raize in design as opposed to the Rocky. It had the huge gaping lower intake, a slim grille that joined the headlights, plus horizontal LED daytime running lights. Even the wheel design was similar to those on the Raize!

The similarities continue towards the back, chief of which is the tail light and rear bumper design. In fact, much of the curves and soft lines you see on the concept are gone. Instead, the Rocky/Raize/Ativa get a much sharper rump, and the Honda-esque LED reflector headlights design really makes the SUV appear properly modern. The coach doors also didn’t make the cut, naturally.

As for the cabin, well, things aren’t as futuristic as the concept, and understandably so. The hexagonal instrument binnacle and three-spoke steering wheel seem to be the only features retained from the DN Trec concept, whereas the integrated centre display has been replaced by a more conventional freestanding unit. The electronic gear shifter is also swapped out for a gated version, complete with a “Tiptronic” function.

In the engine department, the DN Trec featured a 1.2 litre petrol-hybrid powertrain, while the 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine was optional. Ironically, the latter was the first to make its debut. Daihatsu and Toyota are in the midst of developing a modern hybrid system for the compact SUV, and it is expected to be introduced sometime this year.

If you’ve seen the marketing materials for the Rocky, you’ll know that it’s an SUV aimed at those with an active lifestyle, not that it means much in this pandemic era. Still, the production SUV remained true to its initial cause, which was to offer high levels of practicality and use cases. In Japan, all-wheel drive versions of the Rocky and Raize are available, but it’s unlikely for us to get an AWD Ativa due to cost reasons.

Once again, the Perodua Ativa will be making its official launch tomorrow, and there’s a lot to be excited about. Estimated pricing for the Ativa starts at RM62,500 on-the-road without insurance, and goes all the way up to RM73,400. Further materials regarding the SUV can be found in the links, below.

Our coverage of the 2021 Perodua Ativa D55L SUV

GALLERY: Daihatsu DN Trec concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

GALLERY: Daihatsu Rocky in Japan


GALLERY: Toyota Raize in Japan

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