Perodua’s big new launch of the year is the second-generation D27A Alza, which will replace the now 13-year-old original. The still-popular D46T received a stay of execution in January but should now be out of production, leaving the national carmaker without an entry in the MPV segment. That won’t do.

As such, its replacement will likely come sooner rather than later, and with Proton reportedly pushing major launches back to next year to resolve its order backlog and supply issues, the new Alza should be the only all-new local product coming in 2022. Perodua has twice confirmed that a “full model change” (FMC) is due this year, first by CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad, then in the company’s 2022 outlook.

This means the Alza will enter showrooms several months after its siblings, the Toyota Avanza and Veloz and Daihatsu Xenia, made their debuts in Indonesia in November. Will it be worth the wait, and what will the new car compete against? We’ll bring you up to speed on Perodua’s next people carrier.

Wait a minute, isn’t the MPV market shrinking? Aren’t SUVs supposed to take over the world?

Yes, it’s true that the MPV market has gotten progressively smaller since the first Alza made its debut in 2009, with ever more popular SUVs taking up more and more market share. This has led to a number of models exiting the scene, including the Nissan Grand Livina, Toyota Sienta and, ironically, the outgoing Avanza. There simply isn’t enough space in the segment for so many models.

The upshot, however, is that the few cars that remain take up much bigger portions of the market and have fewer competition. You only have to look at how quickly the Mitsubishi Xpander became the bestselling non-national MPV to see how important the segment still is and how much success is still left for the taking.

Buyers are probably also realising that it’s very difficult to pack seven seats into an SUV at this price range without it being either a rough-and-tumble body-on-frame offering (Perodua Aruz) or, ahem, challenging to look at (Honda BR-V). That’s likely the reason why the old Alza sold within 500 units of the Aruz last year, despite its age and relative paucity of equipment.

Why did Perodua take so long to replace the Alza?

The original Alza was based on the Daihatsu Boon Luminas and Toyota Passo Sette, sharing the underpinnings, mechanicals and much of the exterior and interior. The Perodua was far more successful than its siblings were in their home market, where the Japanese duo was discontinued after just four years.

This left Perodua in a bit of a pickle, with no other unibody model to piggyback on – the second-generation Avanza was nearly as old and rode on a semi-monocoque chassis with a solid rear axle. Thankfully, the Alza sold well enough – for long enough – that the company could hold off on its replacement.

According to Zainal, the car is fully amortised, meaning that it has long since paid off any investment Perodua has put in and is simply making money. The only reason why the current model is being killed off is Malaysia’s switch from Euro 2 to Euro 4 emissions standards, which came into force this year (it was extended from October 2021 to allow the Alza to continue selling).

In the meantime came the Aruz, which helped take the pressure off building a replacement for the Alza and showed what an alternative reality would’ve been like had the MPV taken on a more rudimentary chassis construction and suspension layout. The final piece of the puzzle was the Avanza’s switch to a unibody architecture, at last giving Perodua the platform it needed to build the next-generation Alza it wanted.

Is the Alza really based on the Avanza? And will the Toyota be sold here?

Indeed, the Alza is widely tipped to be built on the same structure as the Avanza, based on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA). This lower-cost derivative of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) looks set to be the core of Toyota and Daihatsu’s Southeast Asian product strategy – it already underpins the Perodua Ativa/Daihatsu Rocky/Toyota Raize triplets and will form the basis of the next Toyota Vios.

Building the Alza off this platform makes sense for Perodua, not only for the aforementioned reasons but also because the company already has the ability to produce DNGA models thanks to the Ativa. The new Alza will not only share its underlying chassis with the compact SUV but also lots of the components, much like the synergy between the Rocky/Raize and the Xenia/Avanza.

The question of whether the Toyota variant will be sold in Malaysia is a murkier one. Given the amount of expected parts sharing between the Alza and Avanza, it stands to reason that Perodua will be the one building the car for UMW Toyota Motor, as per the current arrangement of the Aruz-based Rush being produced in Rawang.

However, Perodua’s contract assembly has a target of only 2,000 units a year, which is likely all taken up by the slow-selling Rush. Any sales potential of the new Avanza is also modest at best, given that Perodua will offer an almost identical model at a much cheaper price, giving UMW Toyota less of a reason to sell it. And unless the latter discontinues the Rush, there won’t be any capacity left to build the car anyway.

What about UMW Toyota itself building the Avanza? Its production facilities do not currently support DNGA-based vehicles – the company has only recently invested heavily upgrading its Bukit Raja factory to build TNGA models like the Corolla Cross. It might have to take that leap anyway – the next DNGA Vios will still be an important model, and importing the car from Thailand would put it at a serious pricing disadvantage.

Perhaps bringing the Avanza in as the more “premium” Veloz will allow Toyota to justify the premium over the Alza, whether it be built by Perodua or by UMW Toyota.

How big will the new Alza be? And what will it compete with?

Alright, back to the Perodua. The Alza should have broadly similar dimensions to the Avanza, which measures 4,395 mm long, 1,750 mm wide and 1,700 tall and has a 2,750 mm wheelbase. This means it will be quite a bit bigger than the outgoing model – 175 mm longer, 55 mm wider and 80 mm taller, to be exact – although its wheelbase is exactly the same as before.

Its closest rival will be the Xpander, which has exactly the same length as the Veloz (itself 80 mm longer than the standard Avanza) and is just as wide. The Alza will also give away 30 mm in height and 25 mm in wheelbase, which could lead to a smaller cabin, especially where head- and shoulder room is concerned.

While the Perodua will likely be close in price to the Proton Exora, the latter is actually a segment up. The other national MPV will be much longer (by 215 mm) and wider (by 59 mm), although its more car-like nature means it will be nine millimetres lower than the SUV-lookalike Alza; it will also be 20 mm shorter in wheelbase. It’s also long in the tooth, with dated looks and far fewer creature comforts and safety equipment.

What will the Alza look like? And what will it come with?

Toyota Avanza rear end

By contrast, the Perodua will be bang up to date, sharing much of its styling, equipment and technologies with the Avanza. The exterior of the Toyota is characterised by the boxier, more modern exterior with slim LED head- and taillights, a chiselled shoulder, squared-off front and rear fender flares and a cut-off D-pillar that gives the car a “floating roof” look.

As with the Aruz and Ativa, the Alza should get its own front and rear bumper and wheel designs. A recent render by Photoshop expert Theophilus Chin – who claims to have based it on leaked information – shows a rather aggressive front end with large air intakes and a fairly slim grille. The latter gets a chrome surround (much like the pre-facelifted Myvi, actually) and chrome “pins” reminiscent of modern Mercedes models.

The forward-looking theme continues inside with an angular layered dashboard, plenty of silver trim – including on the centre console and door grab handles – and a freestanding infotainment touchscreen. Expect plenty of tech from the Ativa, including a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen and seven-inch digital instrument display on higher-end models, plus digital air-conditioning controls (with memory buttons rather than the Toyota’s automatic climate control function).

Like the current Alza, the new model will have seven seats that fold flat – as opposed to the outgoing Avanza, which had a flat floor with removable seats plonked on top of it, leading to a less versatile cabin. This is the benefit of the car-like underpinnings and will mean that those used to the outgoing car won’t have such a jarring transition to the new one.

Will the new Alza get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto?

Currently, neither of the national carmakers, Proton and Perodua, offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity in their cars. While the former has already ruled out such systems in favour of building up its own infotainment system, the latter is a bit more receptive and is currently studying their implementation.

“We do get a lot of requests from about Apple CarPlay, so for our future models we will factor in [this feature],” Zainal said. “Currently, with the Myvi [the facelifted model, which does not come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto], we have to consider the commonality with the Ativa.”

Perodua Ativa infotainment touchscreen

Seeing that the new Alza will share even more components with the Ativa, this does not bode well for the MPV. However, the extra lead time after the Myvi could give the company just enough time to develop a revised infotainment system with these features. And hey, at least it’s a maybe and not a flat no, right?

What safety equipment will the Alza get?

Safety is another area where the new Alza will make a quantum leap over the old model. As per the Aruz and Ativa, you can expect six airbags (up from just two) and stability control as standard, which would already be a huge upgrade. But the car should also be the recipient of new driver aids as part of the Perodua Safety Drive Assist (PSDA).

These include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring, and if the Ativa is any indication, these features could even become standard-fit. The new Alza may even receive Level 2 semi-autonomous driving features such as adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist – features not even offered on the Avanza – on the range-topping AV model, as seen on the Ativa and the facelifted Myvi.

What’s under the bonnet?

The likeliest engine choice would be the Avanza’s 2NR-VE 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated Dual VVT-i four-cylinder, which sends 106 PS at 6,000 rpm and 138 Nm at 4,200 rpm to the front wheels via Daihatsu’s D-CVT. The NA mill isn’t the most exciting in the world, but it will bring familiarity to current owners both in terms of its behaviour and also its dependability – and it will be cheap and fuel efficient to boot.

Another option is the 1KR-VET 1.0 litre turbocharged three-pot from the Ativa, producing less power but more torque – 98 PS at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm from 2,400 to 4,000 rpm. More importantly, the torque is produced low down, which will help move all seven people with more vigour. However, the forced-induction mill will result in heavier fuel usage, especially when fully laden.

When will it be launched?

The indication is that the new Alza will arrive very soon, given that stocks of the outgoing model will likely be either completely exhausted or running out fast. However, launching it anytime later than right now would put Perodua in a sort of no man’s land, too late both to capitalise on the Hari Raya rush and for buyers to take advantage of the sales and service tax (SST) rebate, which ends on June 30.

The latter is especially true given the global semiconductor shortage, which is resulting in long waiting times for cars throughout the automotive industry. As a result, the Alza will likely only arrive in customers hands long after the SST deadline, even if it gets launched today.

How much will it cost?

As for pricing, we can expect the new Alza to get a significant hike over the old model (as did the Avanza in other markets), judging by the added sophistication and extra kit on offer. The current car starts at RM49,944 for the 1.5 S manual, but seeing that the new one should be D-CVT-only (as the Myvi is now), the better starting point to compare the second-gen is the automatic version, which retails at RM52,661.

By contrast, the new model should start where its predecessor tops out – the 1.5 AV, which costs RM60,525. This would put it within spitting distance of another DNGA car, the Ativa, and just like its smaller sibling, the range-topping Alza will likely reach the magic RM70,000 mark. That appears to be the psychological barrier for most people to fork out for a Perodua – it’s also roughly where the most expensive Aruz sits.

An earlier render based on the facelifted Myvi

The Alza could actually be priced even higher than this, as the new Avanza is quite expensive even in its “home market” of Indonesia. That car starts at 233.1 million rupiah (RM70,200), and that’s for a 1.3 litre manual model with two airbags and not much kit. A more representative variant is the 1.5 G CVT that costs 269.8 million rupiah (RM81,300), while the version with six airbags and Toyota Safety Sense (both of which should come standard on the Perodua) is even pricier at 295.8 million rupiah (RM89,100).

One thing to note – these prices include the luxury tax that was reintroduced this year, hence the sizeable jump over last year’s figures. The Toyota previously retailed between 206.2 million rupiah (RM62,100) and 264.4 million rupiah (RM79,600), which is closer to what we think the Alza will cost here.

Anything else?

We’ve already written a few articles in the past related to the new D27A Alza, and you can check them all out here:

We will continuously update this post with more information as and when they become available, so keep an eye on this space to know more about the upcoming 2022 Perodua Alza D27A.

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