18 September 2011

Perodua Myvi 1.5 SE/Extreme - design review and test report

For many people, especially the outgoing Perodua Myvi owner, the new Myvi 2011 represent a cosmetic update solely. While it is newer looking, has more pleasing interior, quieter inside and drives better, it is very hard to justify to upgrade to the new model from the outgoing one. For one, while the Japanese cousin has moved on to dual-VVT and CVT gearbox, the new Myvi soldiers on with old K3-VE engine paired with archaic 4 speed automatic transmission or 5 speed manual. Secondly, it is slightly smaller, evidence in tinier boot. Thirdly, the new styling is an acquired taste. Lastly, the whole world has heard that there's going to be a 1.5l variant, that even with archaic auto transmission 'box can potentially give the new Myvi a gutsier drive. The wait is now over!

How does it drive?
The extra 12bhp and 19Nm of power and torque advantage over the 1.3l brother make its presence clear. The   Myvi Extreme feels more powerful off the line, with more than enough power delivery. I have the chance to test the car over a straight road, punctuated by corner and speed bump and slight uphill road. The ride feels firmer than the old Myvi, but this is the same as the smaller capacity 1.3l model. At low to mid engine revolution speed, the engine sound and feels smooth. However, at higher rev, the noise is quite audible. There's no such opportunity to stretch the car top speed, but the salesman said the car has seen 185 km/h during testing. This is clear advantage over 1.3l automatic version, which struggle to get pass 160 km/h.

The model tested in automatic version. Other than better acceleration and higher top speed, the Myvi SE/Extreme is as per your 1.3l model. The handling is same, with no sport-oriented setup. The drive is great with the finesse steering feel (helped by bulge to rest your thumb on perforated leather wrap) that has optimum spoke thickness ( no different from 1.3). Noise intrusion is OK at mid-speed. Ride is slightly firm over bump. Despite this, body roll is still felt upon cornering. Handling is as per old Myvi too, which is OK to be pushed hard into steady state sharp bend, but any encounter with mid-corner bump or necessity to change direction in high-load mid corner will get it easily out of shape with inconsistent body movement. Brakes is however felt better than Perodua Alza.

Speaking on Alza, it is amazing how much engineering progress Perodua has made in the last two years. The steering design for example, is world better than Alza, and the steering feel has some finesse feel to it, compared to rude feel of power assisted steering of the old. Gear lever shift smoothly into designated slot, none of creaky, squeaky and  stiffness of Alza gear lever movement.

Exterior Styling
Over the 1.3 version, the Myvi 1.5 SE was given a new front bumper design, which include the new upper grille too. Main radiator intake has been enlarged, with two fake side intake on each side, each housing the fog lamp at the centre. The upper grille is finish in contrasting grey with textured square pattern. The lower section of the bumper is slightly lipped, giving an impression of integrated skirting.
The rear end also sports new bumper. True to SE styled, it gained a fake air duct at outer edge on both side, complete with higher-mounted rear reflector. The exhaust tip is now exposed, pointed rearwards instead of down-pointed of 1.3 model. Enlarged spoiler is featured too, and the make-over is completed by SE 1.5 badging on tailgate panel.
The 1.5 Extreme model, as the name implies, gets more extreme exterior garnishing. Over the standard SE front bumper, slightly different side intake (with less bars) , additional contrasting lips and edge skirting have been added. On Majestic Yellow model, contrasting intakes, grille and lip really make it a menacing look. 

If you think the front end is extreme, the rear end is anything but subtle. Flaring spoiler aside, the lower section skirting with much more aggressive design has been pasted onto the SE rear bumper, which make the rear end lives on the thin line that separate pure Ah Beng-ness and OEM designed part. Red Extreme badge complete the rear end. Apart from front and rear skirting, the Myvi Extreme also gets side skirt and door protective moulding too.

Interior Styling
The 1.5l model ditched the two-tone interior of 1.3l model. In comes the all-black color scheme. The centre console is silver painted and this gives a really nice contrast. Chrome bezel around aircon dials is standard too. Interior ambiance has been lifted from smaller capacity sibling, justifying the price increase. 

The meter binnacle has a racier lighting and added chrome bezel surrounding the each dials. Turquoise and amber lighting of 1.3 model make way to red lighting. ICE lighting gets similar treatment too.  

The dark trim makes silver insert on the door trim more obvious too. The silver accent on door pull handle is really lost in the light-colored 1.3 interior. It really shines here. All in all, the interior has some expensive feels to it. Apart from the color, the SE and Extreme variants also features semi-bucket front seats. Its called semi probably because the body hugging part is for the back rest only while the seat bottom is shared with other model. In SE variant, the seat is upholstered in red+black fabric, while the Extreme version is leather covered. Audio system in SE version is similar to 1.3 Premium while the Extreme models gets the touch screen multimedia system. By the way, similar audio system can be fitted to your SE for some extra cost.

The photos above is the Myvi SE interior. The red on black is really a welcome feature as it jives well with the black and silver trim to lift the interior ambiance. The Extreme model gets an added leather cover with while stitching and Extreme embroidered into the seat back rest.
Elsewhere, the cabin is standard Myvi fare which means an airy cabin, quite good noise insulation and reasonable ergonomics. The steering now feature button operated audio system. The button design is great departure from Alza switchgear, it has come contour to it, and accommodates your thumb nicely. Perforated leather wrap is standard too. This gives a nicer hold, as the steering is already has nice spoke thickness.
Minor foibles and issues
The sole issue that I can see is that the Extreme version is basically a tarted up Myvi SE. It is as if the SE version goes to accessories shop and came out as Extreme version with no custom made part, just add-on appendage.
Perodua said the outlet underneath the rear reflector in new Myvi 1.3 is there for aerodynamic reason. It release the air and pressure built-up inside the rear wheel arches. 

Hmm...so the higher powered version gets a blanked-out "air-vent" instead of vented solution of lower performance model? No pressure built-up here? Common Perodua, stick to your gun. Is the vent there for cosmetic, aesthetic or cost reason?
Or could it because, well, if the vent in Extreme version is slotted, you could see a SE bumper behind it. The skirting is just added on. So no vented solution for Extreme means that SE, by logic, gets a similar treatment too.

The skirting has body-colored rubber seal. At a glance, the skirting appears to be well integrated with the body. But looks closely, some rough edge can be seen. Personally, I feel that the OEM skirting should be better integrated with the body.
The manual variant seems to take the back seat compared to the automatic version. While the automatic version gets a nice gearknob, with silvered surrounding to match, the self-shifter is all-black affair, with the shoes just sit there on the floor console. By right, put some silver accent surrounding the gear base, or at least make the floor console with   some raised section before the gear base.
Finally, the front skirt on the Extreme does not sit very well with the "air vent". It is slightly loose, with some ribs can be seen within the gap. I know there is a SE bumper lurking somewhere beneath that but company with Perodua caliber should be better off in designing body appendage as their quality level over the recent years is exemplary. 

Final word. The most awaited section. For those who is finding justification to upgrade from your outgoing Myvi, your justification has arrived. Go head and buy it if you are Myvi fans. For the value-for-money, I recommend the SE version. It is affordable and and not as expensive as we thought it would be. You can always add the skirting later on. In Malaysia, you can find even the most outrageous bodykit design for Perodua Myvi, some even known for other OEM skirting abroad.

The SE version starts at RM50,900 for Solid Color Manual. Going for an auto will cost you RM 53,900. Opt for metallic paint for both model will cost you an additional RM500. The Multimedia System with Navigation is available for Myvi SE Automatic, for an additional RM2,100. 

The Extreme variant starts at RM58,200 for Solid, manual version and goes up to RM61,200 for automatic version with solid paint. As the SE model, going for metallic cost additional RM500. 

Go ahead. Buy it. 

Do you notice that I always get the chance to test drive Perodua new car. Why there is no test drive for Proton? Maybe I am lucky to meet with ever friendly Perodua salesman/women that never hesitant in giving out test drive. I have no such luck with the recently launched Proton Saga FLX. I met an arrogant salesman who give no test drive and reluctant to think about trading in my current car too. What a shame! So Proton, if you listened up, you know what you should do.