So, it finally came to a point where I had to buy a new car. My old Kelisa was falling apart, and there was really no way around it. I’ll admit something upfront right now: I’m not much of a car person and I don’t really know much about them. As long as my vehicle fulfilled my basic transportation needs (commuting to work and back, and some weekend city use), I was a happy camper. As such, you can imagine my dilemma when it came to choosing a new car. So when my buddies from Carkaki approached me, I decided this would be an appropriate review to share.
I did my research. Lots of it. I went to showroom after showroom, pored over glossy brochures. Strange new terms like ‘bore stroke’ and ‘piston rings’ found their way into my vocabulary database. I was comparing kerb weights and dimensions between models. And what did I do after months of research? I drove down to the nearest Perodua showroom and booked a Myvi. Special Edition, mind you.
Don’t get me wrong. In my current position in life I can definitely afford something…fancier. Friends and family firmly told me to get a ‘foreign car’ because ‘local cars are rubbish’. Perhaps they were disappointed with my final choice. I, on the other hand, am quite satisfied with my decision.
So, are local cars really that bad? Why did Malaysian car manufacturers get such a ‘reputation’? It’s a little sad to hear the derogatory terms sometimes, especially considering that these cars grew with our nation, powering thousands (if not millions) of Malaysians for their daily commutes. I’ve heard sarcastic remarks like ‘Milo tin quality’ and ‘Malaysia Boleh’ each time we pass by a bad accident on the highway, and a local car is part of the wreck.
My Experience with Perodua
The guys at the showroom were really friendly and helpful. From the test drive to the bank loan approval and purchase process, everything went ahead smoothly without a hitch. I took the car to my local temple, got it blessed for good vibes, and then it was finally deemed ‘roadworthy’. I took it for a few good spins, tested the speed limits and transmissions. The car has not reached the 1k mileage mark yet, so bear in mind this is a car that’s not considered fully broken-in.
Myvi 1.5 SE: The Pros
The 1.5 SE Myvi is pretty nice, in all honesty. From a layman perspective, I would give it an overall rating of 6.5/10 based on my needs. The engine packs a powerful punch and is more than adequate for the Myvi’s subcompact body. Overtaking on highways is a breeze. Mileage is great, though I can’t estimate a proper figure at the moment. A 1.5 cc car with a fairly light kerb weight means you’ll be revving the engine more than you need just for the fun of it, to see how the little bugger performs against the big boys on the road (and whether you can be cheeky and make that smug rich uncle in his fancy ride eat some Myvi dust).
With the new added safety features for the SE version (some which were not previously available for Myvis, such as SRS airbags, EBD and ABS), I admit I have better peace of mind instead of wondering if I’m going to die every time a lorry driver goes into Grand Theft Auto mode. The cool little things are handy too, like the anti-snatch bag hook, hidden tissue compartment, fold-down rear seats – very practical for the regular Malaysian driver.
As with most Malaysian cars, servicing and parts are affordable too. So if you’re a simple person with simple, practical needs, this could be the perfect car for you. I was quite impressed with Perodua’s service centre. Booking my time slot was fast and easy, the staff at the USJ service centre were super amazing – polite and very professional. And my service was over on time, less than an hour! I can’t say I’m impressed with certain foreign car service centres here, with their rude staff and long waiting times, so well done Perodua! The USJ service centre is large, spacious and clean, complete with free coffee and tea facilities, prayer room, comfy sofas, magazines, mini library, kid’s gym and a nice big TV. Oh, and free peanuts!
Myvi 1.5 SE: The Cons
Now comes the interesting part. I found something a little strange; if you apply a mild sudden brake, the ABS kicks in and feels like a mini ‘slam’ against your brake pedal. I was quite puzzled at first; I braked to avoid an absent-minded, bike-riding pakcik on his way to Friday prayers – not a huge thing but still, I was surprised that the ABS felt so unpleasant. I almost thought something was wrong with the car, it was a significant jolt. However, the engineer at the service centre assured me that it was normal. But okay with me, as long as the safety feature works when it’s supposed to work.
There are other rough edges which I can’t quite describe, such as the overall feel of the car while running. It’s never as smooth as those sophisticated foreign models, but that’s to be expected, no? (I feel bad for saying that. Perhaps one day we can proudly say that Malaysian cars are every bit as good as foreign models, but for now, it is what it is.) At slightly over RM50K, this isn’t exactly a cheap car.
While a Myvi probably isn’t a car that will significantly elevate your social status, it’s a gem for daily Malaysian life (what’s all that imported horsepower worth when you’re stuck in KL traffic?). It’s fast, nippy and easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Hatchback means not much booty to worry about, so if your rear parking skills are as retarded as mine, here’s your solution. The 1.5 version is worth it if you can afford it, as the extra engine capacity will be useful for those loads on road trips, IKEA furniture, ferrying your aunties and uncles around, carrying extra beer crates and whatever other crazy things we Malaysians attempt to do with our little cars. So if you’re considering buying a new car, think about this: in our current economic situation, what are your priorities?
Next: Carkaki roadhogs test drive the abovementioned Myvi. Will it live up to these guys expectations? Stay tuned to find out.
Jayna Valen is a writer, blogger, artist and Yoga Acharya (RYT-500, RYT-200) based in both Malaysia and Singapore. More at www.jaynavalen.com.