Finally, the Perodua Ativa has been officially launched in Malaysia. Instead of the customary big event, Perodua unveiled the D55L SUV via a virtual launch this evening, finally confirming the Ativa name in the process. If you’re wondering, Ativa is Portuguese for active, which makes sense for an SUV.
Also announced were the official prices. The Ativa starts at RM61,500 for the base X variant, going up to RM66,100 for the mid H. The top AV is yours for RM71,200, or RM72,000 if you go for the full two-tone paint option (pearl white/red with black roof). These figures, which are on-the-road excluding insurance, are lower than the estimated price range of RM62,500 to RM73,400. Prices include sales tax exemption, which is in place until June 30.
You’ve seen the spyshots, you’ve read our first impressions review; now it’s time to take in the full details and pore over every nook and cranny of the Perodua Ativa. Make yourself a drink and get comfortable.
The Ativa is the first model in Perodua’s Transformation 3.0 era, named Perodua Smart Build. In this new era, which focuses on sustainability and globalisation, the Malaysian market leader will work closely with shareholder and technical partner Daihatsu, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota, the world’s number one carmaker.
So it’s a rebadged Daihatsu Rocky?
Seems so but not quite. Here’s the deal. The Daihatsu Rocky and its Toyota Raize twin were launched in Japan in late 2019. As with most compact models with D and T badges, the compact car specialist develops and builds both models, with a different face for the Toyota. That’s also the case in Indonesia – see the Terios–Rush Low MPVs and the Ayla-Agya LCGCs.
Many might assume that the time difference was what Perodua needed to adapt the JDM car for Malaysia, but this is not the case as the Rocky-Ativa was always meant to be a shared model, and P2 was involved in the development process when it started three years ago.
Perodua president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad revealed that there are currently over 50 P2 staff living and working at Daihatsu in Japan, and they’re in the design and engineering divisions. Basically, there is Perodua input in this shared model, even in the JDM Rocky, so perhaps the resemblance to the Myvi – especially at the rear – isn’t coincidental.
To come up with a shared model isn’t the most straightforward, as the end product must satisfy the preferences of different markets – that’s what the P2 people embedded in DMC are for, to provide Malaysia’s POV. This isn’t like Perodua’s early kei car era where Malaysia simply took what Daihatsu already had and gave it new bumpers – this SUV is also meant for overseas markets, and we’re among the most important ones for Daihatsu, if not the most important.
Bumpers aside, there are a fair amount of minor differences/improvements on the Ativa versus the Rocky, which we’ll get into detail later. Some were shown to us by P2, some are obvious, some less so.
Why didn’t they launch this model earlier, you ask. Perodua says that there has been no delay to its Ativa plan, even though they had to go through many obstacles brought about by Covid-19 and movement restrictions, which started this month last year.
They’ve had more to prepare than usual, as the Ativa is the first Perodua to use the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) platform, and also the first to utilise a turbo engine and CVT gearbox. Many of the challenges faced in setting up production were unprecedented, just like the pandemic.
In the end, they managed, and in time too. Perodua is very proud of the work it does with its vendors and the doors it opens for them, and the result is 95% local content on the Ativa, the highest ever for a Perodua model at the launch stage (higher even than the Myvi, a homegrown model). The 1.0T engine is made by Perodua Engine Manufacturing in Rawang, while the CVT rolls off the line at Akashi Kikai in Sendayan, N9. The latter will in the future export the CVT to Daihatsu in Indonesia.
Perodua’s tech flagship – DNGA, Turbo, CVT
The Ativa marks many firsts for Perodua. It’s the market leader’s first model to use the DNGA platform, their first turbocharged engine, and the first one to use a CVT instead of the long-serving conventional 4AT.
We’ve already detailed the DNGA platform, which debut in Japan only in 2019. Like big brother Toyota’s TNGA, but for compact cars, it’s built for today and the future. DNGA is not only bang up to date in rigidity, safety, NVH and performance aspects – it’s modular and CASE-ready, which stands for connected, autonomous, shared and electric. With Perodua’s factories already DNGA-ready, we can expect more high-quality models down the road – the Ativa is the start of a new era.
You don’t match a modern base with an old heart, and the DNGA was developed to fit the latest powertrain combos. Like the Rocky, the Ativa is powered by a 1.0 litre downsized turbo engine, the first boosted motor from P2. The DOHC VVT three-cylinder 1KR-VET is essentially a version of the naturally-aspirated 1.0L engine in the Axia and Bezza, with a turbocharger.
The latter makes a big difference. Outputs are rated at 98 PS (72 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque from 2,400 to 4,000 rpm. This is a significant advantage of 30 PS and nearly 50 Nm of torque over the NA 1KR-VE, but crucially, max torque is achieved early in the rev range, much earlier than the Myvi 1.5L’s 136 Nm at 4,200 rpm. Perodua says that the 1.0T has performance similar to a 1.5L, and as we all know, the Myvi ain’t slow…
There’s a Power button on the steering wheel that delivers sharper throttle response. Average fuel consumption is 18.9 km/l in the ECE mode. Daihatsu claims 18.6 km/l for the Rocky in the stricter WLTP cycle, so it’s thereabouts. This good FC figure is no doubt from the downsized turbo engine and CVT combo, which is an efficient one. Eco Idle auto start-stop, which Perodua has been offering since the Bezza, is standard for this engine. For a deep dive into the 1KR-VET’s oily bits, click here.
An equally important cog in the efficiency wheel is the CVT gearbox. Called D-CVT for Dual-Mode CVT, Perodua’s first use of a CVT is also the world’s first split gear CVT system. Basically, D-CVT combines belt drive with a gear drive for improved fuel efficiency, acceleration feel and quietness.
From rest to low/medium speeds, the D-CVT functions like any other CVT, with the engine’s torque going through a torque converter (like Toyota and Honda CVTs, should be smoother than systems that use a clutch pack like the Punch CVT in Protons) and into the input pulley, before being transferred to the output pulley via a belt and then to the wheels.
However, at higher speeds, the D-CVT shifts into its split mode, engaging the gear drive to provide more efficient power transmission (less energy loss), while the rotation to the belt drive is decreased significantly. There’s also a manual mode with seven virtual ratios – push the gear lever left to shift.
This D-CVT is not to be confused with Toyota’s Direct Shift-CVT, which features in models like the RAV4 and Lexus UX. Not the regular CVT used in the Vios, Direct Shift-CVT adds on a launch gear that acts like a first gear in a conventional AT. We’ve already detailed the Ativa’s D-CVT here, with illustrations on how it works versus a regular CVT, plus all sorts of figures.
Not for the ‘bigger is better’ types
Speaking of figures, the Ativa is 4,065 mm long and 1,710 mm wide. At just above four metres long, it’s a compact SUV that’s described as A-segment to small B-segment by the P2 boss. However, these aren’t the Rocky’s figures – the Ativa is actually 70 mm longer than the sub-4m Daihatsu, and 15 mm wider. This is due to the more streamlined design of the bumpers, versus the more abrupt chop of DMC’s knife. The Ativa’s lines look more natural.
At 1,635 mm, the Perodua is also 15 mm taller than its JDM sister. This is due to the Malaysia-specific suspension, which besides being firmer than Daihatsu’s comfort-focused setup, also raises the ground clearance to 200 mm. Wheelbase is 2,525 mm. The X rides on 16-inch wheels (205/65, Goodyear Assurance Triplemax 2) while the H and AV get two-tone 17-inch alloys with 205/60 Bridgestone Turanza T005A touring tyres.
To give you a mental idea of the Ativa’s size, its footprint is 170 mm longer and 25 mm narrower than a Myvi, while the wheelbase is 25 mm longer than Malaysia’s best-selling car. Compared to fellow SUV Proton X50, the Ativa is 265 mm shorter and 90 mm narrower, with a 75 mm shorter wheelbase. You can also substitute the X50 for the Honda HR-V for similar results, so the Ativa is smaller than the typical B-SUV.
But more often than not, exterior dimensions don’t tell the full story on interior space, because packaging matters. How else can you explain why Hondas are usually spacious inside and Mazdas are tight. For instance, the Ativa’s boot space of 369 litres beats the X50’s 330L, and Perodua achieves it with a full size spare tyre with matching wheel (space saver for X50). By the way, the tyre jack is under the front passenger seat.
Speaking of the boot, the floor has two levels – the “lower ground floor” (my own term) gives maximum height and capacity, while ground floor gives you 303 litres (Myvi’s boot is 277L by the way) and a flat loading bay when you fold down the 60:40 rear seats. It might not be familiar to P2 hatchback owners, but the parcel shelf here is of the soft “foldable sunshade” variety.
The backbenchers have two levels of seat recline and two USB charging ports (H and AV only). The (manual) front seats are the best-shaped ones we’ve seen from Perodua so far, whether wrapped with fabric or the AV’s black-red leather with suede sides (fabric seats on X and H).
There’s also a front centre armrest, a first for Perodua. Said armrest and the ones on the door cards are covered with a softer material from the H onwards. We’re not talking about thick padding but slightly more pliable plastic. The steering wheel can be tilted up/down, but there’s no telescopic adjustment, which some tall drivers might require for the optimum position.
Space wise, it’s decent, but the Myvi feels roomier (a spec check reveals that couple distance is 900 mm vs the Myvi’s 937 mm) and the rear seat base is on the short side. While the Ativa is clearly not one for those who has interior space as top priority, do try it out for size before dismissing it for being too small.
Bright lights, big screens
When the first details of the Ativa surfaced, we were shocked by the list of features Perodua managed to include, considering the SUV’s RM60k-70k price range. Safety and driver assist tech is a topic by itself, so we’ll look at the bright lights, big screens and other goodies in this section.
It was a big deal when Perodua introduced LED headlamps on the Myvi in 2017, and across the variant board too. Over three years on, the brighter and whiter lights still isn’t a given in the B-segment, but P2 isn’t waiting for the others to catch up.
As with the Myvi, reflector LED headlamps are standard across the range, and the base X variant adds on Auto High Beam. AHB will automatically come on above 30 km/h, or when surroundings are very dark. The system will auto dip the high beam when it detects oncoming traffic, so you don’t have to manually on/off with the stalk.
AHB is very useful and it’s a P2 first, but the mid-spec H and AV feature automatic LED headlamps with Adaptive Driving Beam. Like Audi’s Matrix LED, ADB is a smart auto high beam that “cuts out” oncoming vehicles from the glare when high beam is on, instead of dipping the high beam completely, as AHB does. This means that you’ll get full shine even when there’s oncoming traffic, but no one gets blinded by it. ADB does this by disabling individual LEDs within the headlamps for precise control over light distribution.
As a visible and stylish bonus, ADB is packaged with sequential turn signals and side view lamps. The latter – also sometimes called cornering lamps – sits at the edge of the headlamp cluster, lighting up when the driver applies the signal lamps on the same side. This provides additional side lighting at low speeds. When reverse is engaged, both side view lamps light up.
Sequential turn signals have so far only featured in premium cars; the RM182k Volkswagen Passat is the next most affordable car in Malaysia to have it. Adaptive High Beam and the fancy turn signals were added to the Lexus NX only in 2019 – that SUV is of course much higher up Toyota’s SUV hierarchy. Elsewhere, LED combination tail lamps are standard for all Ativas, while H and AV variants get LED front fog lamps as well. By the way, there are no LED daytime running lights; that’s available as a GearUp option.
Another nice feature Perodua brought down to the masses was keyless entry and push start, which was standard across the board in the Myvi and available on the Axia. The keyless entry is a level up in the Ativa; there’s no physical button to press here because the driver’s door handle has an electrostatic sensor – just a touch will do.
Once inside, you won’t miss the large and “floating” 9.0-inch centre touchscreen for the infotainment system. The interface is similar to the Myvi’s system. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but Android phone users can hook up their device to the screen via SmartLink phone mirroring (HDMI port). With this, the driver can press the voice button on the left steering spoke and issue voice commands to the phone via Google Voice. In other words, you’re talking to your phone via the car, and not to the car itself.
The touchscreen system is packaged with a reverse camera and auto sound levelling. The X variant makes do with a non-touchscreen radio with USB and Bluetooth. The radio looks slightly strange in a dashboard designed for a large floating screen, but that’s the way it is for base models, even on stylish Mazdas. The base speaker count is four, with two tweeters in the AV taking it to six in total.
The Ativa is the first Perodua and model in its price range to offer a digital instrument panel. Sitting on the left of the digital speedometer, the 7.0-inch TFT screen combines a rev counter and the trip computer. There are four designs that you can choose from. The default style is the velodrome-shaped tachometer, but you can change it to a more traditional dial. Pressing the Power button will introduce some red elements to the picture, whichever theme you’re in.
The system also has some cute bonus features such as date reminders (never miss a birthday or anniversary again) and even a choice of ticking sound for the indicators. No temperature gauge, though. The digital meter panel is for the H and AV only; the X gets conventional twin analogue dials. Speaking of the X, the steering wheel is free of buttons except for the lonely Power button, there are minimal silver/chrome/red accents and the wing mirrors are not power retractable.
Unique Ativa features not found in the Rocky
Perodua owners will immediately eye the front seats for the handbag hook. Unfortunately, that’s not offered in the Ativa, which also loses the seatback flip-out “tapau hooks”, although base of the front headrests have hooks (less convenient). Also not present is the Myvi AV’s Smart Tag reader, but with the Smart Tag system due to be phased out for RFID, that’s understandable.
One Perodua special feature that’s present here is air con memory. Daihatsu has a digital automatic AC panel and a manual panel for the Rocky, but the Ativa gets its own AC panel that’s digital, but without the auto function. The M1 and M2 buttons you see here are for the AC memory, which works pretty much like seat position memory. You can preset one for cool days and another for full blast AC on hot days, for instance.
Also unique to the Ativa is the door lock/unlock buttons on the centre console, next to the handbrake. This is an upgrade over the Rocky, which does not have dedicated door lock buttons. The central position of the lock buttons means that all occupants can access them. Speed-sensing auto door lock is a new-to-Perodua feature.
Malaysians prefer full size spare tyres over tyre repair kits, and Perodua has provided this, with a matching alloy wheel. There’s a cavity for the Rocky’s TRK in the boot wall, and that’s empty here. The Daihatsu features a plastic tailgate, which like on the T32 Nissan X-Trail, reduces weight. The Ativa’s tailgate is in steel. We sort of understand why P2 has opted to do this – simpler, probably cheaper, and there won’t be an impression of low quality/fragileness that plastic would definitely have invited.
Lastly, the above-mentioned Malaysia-specific suspension, which raises the ground clearance (now 200 mm) and overall height by 15 mm. Perodua says that the Ativa’s suspension tune is firmer than the Rocky’s, which is typically JDM. That by the way means comfort-oriented. Looking at the way and speeds Malaysians drive, plus our road conditions versus Japan’s, our preference for firmer control is logical. We also noticed Bridgestone Ecopia rubber on the Rocky in official videos, and upon checking, the eco tyres are sized 195/60 R17. If so, our Ativa H and AV ride on wider (205/60) and significantly more premium tyres (Bridgestone Turanza T005A).
The Ativa is also longer (+70 mm) and wider (+15 mm) than the sub-4m Rocky. This is due to the more streamlined design of the Perodua’s bumpers, versus the more abrupt chop on the Daihatsu. It’s obvious if you view both cars from the side profile and three quarters – the Ativa’s lines look more natural.
Lastly, the Ativa’s side mirrors (painted black to match the A-pillars, standard on all) are from the Aruz, and they’re both larger and more stylish than those on the Rocky. The Perodua also gets stabiliser fins on the A-pillars, which have just been added to the JDM car.
As we pointed out earlier, spec-for-spec, the Ativa is around RM10k cheaper than the equivalent Rocky 2WD in Japan – this is certainly not a regular occurrence, and Perodua did well. In Japan, buyers can opt for things like a 360-degree camera, Auto Parking Assist and auto climate control, but we don’t think that many would need/miss those features.
Top-class safety, Level 2 autonomous
Spec wise, it’s all very impressive, even before reaching the safety department. But it’s here that the Ativa shines the brightest. Perodua introducing Advanced Safety Assist (ASA) in the Myvi in 2017 was groundbreaking then, and is still unmatched by Proton and some non-national B-segment cars today. An improved ASA 2.0 made its debut in the Aruz in 2019, and we’re now at ASA 3.0.
The ASA suite – which includes Pre-collision Warning (PCW), Pre-collision Braking (PCB or AEB), Front Departure Alert (FDA) and Pedal Misoperation Control (PMC) – is standard across the Ativa board. In all other Perodua models, only the top variants get ASA, so this is notable. The system has been improved too – there’s two-wheeled vehicle detection for PCW and PCB now (pedestrian detection added in 2.0), and PCW’s operating range is now 4-120 km/h, up by 20 km/h.
PCB or AEB can now be used for an unlimited amount of times. Previously, after three auto braking stops, the engine has to be restarted to reboot the system. ASA also works at night now, but only for cars and if their tail lamps are on. Also standard from the base X is Lane Departure Warning and Prevention.
The Ativa AV goes full Level 2 autonomous with the addition of Lane Keep Control (LKC), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC, works between 30 to 125 km/h, no low-speed follow so it doesn’t work in traffic jams). Yup, a Perodua that “drives itself” (remember, hands on the wheel, driver must be alert at all times) and has “Lexus lights” – they’ve come a long way indeed.
With all those L2 autonomous features onboard, you’d expect passive safety features to be a given for the Ativa, and you’d be correct. Six airbags (front, side, curtain), ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Emergency Stop Signal, Hill Hold Assist and Isofix child seat anchors and rear seatbelt reminders (roof-mounted) are all standard from the X. The entry variant has reverse sensors, while the H adds on front sensors and a reverse camera. Go for the AV and they’ll throw in a front dashcam and Llumar security window tint.
Safety is the Ativa’s trump card and the now-confirmed five stars from ASEAN NCAP seems like a mere formality. Across the local pond, the Proton X50 starts at four airbags and reserves all ADAS features for the RM103k Flagship variant, so this is Perodua hitting the ball out of the park.
Price and colours
Even in the colours department, there’s plenty of new. The X and H variants can be had in Glittering Silver, Granite Grey and Cobalt Blue, with the mid-spec H also available in Pearl Diamond White and Pearl Delima Red. The “Special Metallic” pearl colours have a RM500 premium.
Meanwhile, AV buyers have the choice of Glittering Silver, Granite Grey, Pearl Diamond White and Pearl Delima Red, plus a RM300 two-tone option for the two pearl colours. The two-tone option is essentially just a black roof, as the Ativa’s A-pillars and wing mirrors are already in black for all trims and colours. The two pearl hues and Cobalt Blue are new-to-Perodua colours, by the way.
Perodua said last week that 75% of bookings were for the range topper, and most AV buyers went for the black roof. Looking at how much more the AV provides in specs and features for the premium P2 is charging, it makes the most sense. Since order books opened on February 19, P2 has collected some 5,000 bookings, and it plans to deliver an average of 3,000 units per month.
The Rawang-based carmaker says that the target market for the Ativa is the mid to high income individual, someone who’s looking for a replacement (upgraders) or additional car with a non-national badge. Families with more than two kids looking for a primary car would be better served by the firm’s three-row MPVs, or even the Bezza. Will the Ativa cannibalise sales of the Myvi and Aruz? Just a little bit, 5% from each model to be exact, P2 estimates, so this model is to win new customers to the brand.
So there you go, the Perodua Ativa. What do you think? Here’s our first impressions of the new SUV. Spec breakdown, galleries of all variants, pics and details of the GearUp accessories, and our walk-around video are all below.
2021 Perodua Ativa X – RM61,500
Gets as standard:
- 1.0 litre 1KR-VET VVT-i DOHC engine
- 998 cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
- 98 PS at 6,000 rpm, 140 Nm of torque from 2,400 to 4,000 rpm
- D-CVT with seven virtual ratios
- Front-wheel drive
- Automatic engine stop/start
- 18.9 km per litre fuel consumption
- Ventilated discs brakes (front), drums (rear)
- MacPherson strut suspension (front), torsion beam (rear)
- LED reflector headlights with automatic high beam
- Silver upper grille bar, chrome lower bar
- 16-inch silver alloy wheels with Goodyear Assurance Triplemax 2 205/65-section tyres
- Power-adjustable black door mirrors with manual fold
- Body-coloured door handles
- Black A- and B-pillars
- LED taillights
- Shark fin antenna
- Silver tailgate garnish
- Glittering Silver, Granite Grey and Cobalt Blue colour options
- Keyless entry
- Push-button start
- Urethane steering wheel with Power button
- Silver centre air vent trim
- Black door pulls and grab handles
- Digital air-conditioning controls with memory buttons
- Centre door lock/unlock buttons
- Fabric upholstery
- Analogue instrument cluster with multi-info display
- Radio with Bluetooth connectivity
- Four speakers
- Two front USB ports
- 60:40 split-folding and reclining rear seats
- Two-step boot floor (303 to 369 litres)
- Full-sized spare tyre
- Six airbags (front, side, front and rear curtain)
- ABS with EBD and brake assist
- Stability control
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection (now up to 120 km/h)
- Lane Departure Warning and Protection
- Pedal Misoperation Control (PMC)
- Front Departure Alert (FDA)
- Front and rear seat belt reminders
- Rear ISOFIX child seat anchors
- Rear parking sensors
- Five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating
2021 Perodua Ativa H – RM66,100
- Automatic LED headlights with sequential indicators, cornering lights and Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB)
- LED front fog lights
- Dual chrome grille bars
- Silver front and rear skid plates
- 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels with Bridgestone Turanza T005A 205/60-section tyres
- Automatic power-folding door mirrors
- Chrome tailgate garnish
- Pearl Diamond White and Pearl Delima Red colour options (RM500)
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Steering wheel audio controls
- Silver corner air vent trim
- Silver centre console trim
- Silver door grab handles with red trim
- Soft-touch centre armrest and door trim
- Seven-inch digital instrument display
- Nine-inch infotainment touchscreen with Smart Link screen mirroring
- One front HDMI port
- Two rear USB ports
- Front parking sensors
- Reverse camera
2021 Perodua Ativa AV – RM71,200
- Chrome door handles
- Black roof option for Pearl Diamond White and Pearl Delima Red (RM800)
- Red corner air vent highlights
- Chrome door pulls
- Chrome gearlever surround, silver gearknob trim
- Chrome handbrake button
- Red centre console storage compartments
- Faux leather and suede upholstery with red highlights and headrest strip
- Six speakers
- Driving video recorder
- Llumar security window tint
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane centring assist
- Blind spot monitoring
- Rear cross traffic alert
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