So the day finally arrived. After all the hype, and enough ‘teasing’ to put strip-clubs along Patong Beach to shame, the media finally got a first-hand taste of the all-new Perodua Axia. First-off, its name: Axia, pronounced ‘ah-see-ya’ it’s an amalgamation of ‘Asia’ and the Roman numeral for 10, which is ‘X’, insofar as this is actually the tenth model from Perodua.
Since the 1994 introduction of the little Kancil, in the span of two decades Perodua has provided Malaysians with the (deep breath) Kelisa, Kenari, Rusa, Kembara, Viva, Nautica, Alza and of course the massively popular, MyVi. In the span of 20 years, Perodua has sold a mind-boggling 2,500,000 vehicles to Malaysians to date.
The Axia, due to be launched in September 2014, looks set to add to that number significantly, if the pre-launch bookings are anything to go by. Since the order books opened on Friday August 15th, Perodua has recorded over 3,500 bookings for the new Axia; at the time of writing, that was just four days ago.
Yes, in typical Perodua fashion, there are 4 variants to choose from; Standard E, Standard G, SE and Advance. All variants share the same fuel-efficient*1.0-litre, DOHC 12-valve (998cc) engine that’s capable of 67bhp @6,000rpm and 90Nm @ 3,600rpm, mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. However, the top-spec Advance version is only available in auto, and the introductory Standard E version is only available in manual. (*21.6km/L claimed combined fuel-consumption figure, manual transmission)
There’s a massive gap of RM20,000 between the introductory Standard E and the Advance, but that means the Axia in its most basic form can be had for a very affordable RM24,900! Here’s the rest of the pricing: (click on the link below for the actual softcopy of the pricelist)
PDF: AXIA Pricelist
They say that first-impressions are crucial, since you never get a second chance to make one, so potential buyers will be pleased to know that the Axia makes a very good one. First-off, it’s not as small as some have thought it might be. It has a very useable 260-litres of cargo space, which equates to four pieces of aircraft ‘cabin-sized’ bags fitting snugly into the cargo area. Its interior is very roomy and I had no trouble getting a comfortable driving position, and there was still a modicum of space behind me.
I’d opted for the manual variant, and while the gear shifts were smooth and the clutch light, what was more impressive was the NVH, or rather the lack of it permeating the cabin. Given the category the Axia resides in, NVH levels were at par with something a lot more expensive, and nothing short of very impressive for a variant that’s not even the top spec. The EPS or electrical power-steering felt light and made the car exceptionally easy to maneuver around the tight pre-set test drive course, and while speed was not the order of the day, the Axia nonetheless felt sprightly and responsive. Acceleration was linear and un-fussed, the large surrounding glass area offered excellent visibility, and the brakes (discs in front, drums in the rear) were more than adequate to bring the car to a halt.
Speaking of safety, while ABS and EBD as well as Security Tint Film are standard in the SE and Advance variants, ALL variants will have dual front airbags. One interesting addition to the Axia that’s worth mentioning is a special lockable handbag-hook that’s fitted on the front passenger seat, above the centre console. With the ever-prevalent ‘smash-and-grab’ occurrences in the city at traffic lights, especially amongst women who sometimes forget, and leave their handbag on the front passenger seat, this hook allows them to lock their handbag above the centre console, and out of view as well as arms length from the passenger side window.
Another impressive aspect of the Axia is the quality of materials and tactile feel. No, it’s not a Lexus, but again, given the classification, it’s all put together very nicely. As I mentioned in my Proton article recently, one of the greatest achievements a carmaker can accomplish, is to make a cheap car that doesn’t look and feel cheap. That’s what Perodua has done with the Axia. On a personal note, we’ve all seen a family of four on a small motorbike on the highway, it’s a sad and dangerous sight, so if this car at its cheapest form of less than RM25k is able to provide daily transport for families like that who are on a very tight budget, you have my heartiest congratulations, a deepest respect.
The model I tested, however, was not the base model; there wasn’t one there to be reviewed because apparently it’s so basic that no one at Perodua wanted to drive it over to the site. I’m kidding of course. But there really wasn’t a unit there, so I’ll just have to wait for the official launch to have a go at that one, or visit a Perodua showroom. Apparently it doesn’t even have a radio and rides on 14-inch steel rims. The top spec variant though, the Advance, is loaded with kit, which includes leather semi-bucket seats, a multi-media system with Navigation, alloy wheels, etc.
Apart from the common-denominator of having the same engine, there is one thing that all the variants on display share; quality. Sadly we cannot show you the photos we took, as they are all embargoed till the launch in September, we were however allowed this first-impression, as well as use of anything that was included in the press kit, which we have duly reproduced here for you (see gallery).
SECOND OPINION – Alia Zaharin, Associate Editor, AF – Perodua has set a new benchmark in the A-segment market with the new Perodua Axia. It has a modern and cute look that would certainly appeal to those empty nesters, university students or even young families on a budget. Axia comes in a variety of variants that would suit any buyer’s preference from a simple low price daily commuter where the cheapest variant starts from only RM24k to an affordable compact loaded with goodies. Backed-up with a 5-year warranty, the car is designed to minimize your overall motoring cost burden of vehicle ownership.
On the move, the miniscule 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine offers a smooth drive if not revved too hard; suitable for a daily commute around the urban or the suburban area. It rides comfortably and is very easy to maneuver thanks to its small turning radius, front bumper sensor as well as an electronic powered steering wheel (EPS) equipped as standard. Surprisingly, the electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic transmission behaves much like a CVT, as the actual changes are almost imperceptible.
Although it may not provide enough horsepower for you to cruise down the third-lane on the highway with fleet-footed aplomb, the Axia is designed for Eco driving and fuel-efficiency. Equipped with a bag full of features and a surprisingly more spacious boot space if compared to the Perodua Myvi (Axia 260-litres, Myvi 225-litres), I’m pretty sure that the Perodua Axia will yet again be another winner from Perodua.
Stay tuned to AF as the date of the Axia launch approaches, and we’ll keep you posted of any developments. It will be very interesting to see how the Proton GSC stacks up against the Axia, we smell a comparo coming very soon…