Perodua Myvi - The Verdict

Perodua's functional hatchback handles well and, while it may not turn heads, at least it's not a clone. But who, asks Alix Lawrence, is it aimed at?

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Price: £6,799, including cashback discount
Engine: 1.3-litre petrol
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.3 secs; 48.7mpg
C02: 137g/km
Worth considering: Daihatsu Sirion, Proton Savvy, Fiat Panda

I wasn't thrilled about the getting the chance to test drive a Malaysian supermini. The only Perodua I had seen was the Kenari, a curious mini-van/ estate whose styling is not head-turning. So I was pleasantly surprised by the only slightly van-like Myvi.

"Hot chili" red would not be my colour choice, but the shape seemed well proportioned in the modern idiom, and I was pleased it wasn't another clone-like hatch.

Car spotters will notice the extreme similarity of this Perodua to the Daihatsu Sirion, a Japanese built-version of the Myvi. Both are basically a Toyota design, as all the brands are linked in the Toyota empire. In the UK, the Perodua version undercuts the Daihatsu by a few hundred pounds on the 1.3-litre petrol-engine models. Daihatsu also offers a 1.0-litre version, and Perodua does not. There are minor mechanical and major cosmetic differences (cabin and trim) between the two: check the spec lists.

So, first impressions. Didn't like the colour, but I did like the styling. There is a version with kind of spoiler/wing at the back, which improves the look, though its function is unclear. My Myvi was sans spoiler. The interior was clean, unfussy and very functional. It had clear dials and the rest of the dash display was similarly comprehensible, plus what seemed like an endless amount of headroom, a good seating position and adjustable steering column.

The windscreen seemed huge and the wing mirrors followed suit, almost bus-like, with embedded indicators. The back is spacious and there is good legroom for a small car, although it might be a bit too familiar with three in the back.

Boot space was OK, maybe a little disappointing, but they had to find that extra legroom from somewhere. The back seats fold down nicely to achieve a small, van-like space. The Myvi does a quick and efficient job around town; the (hydraulic powered) steering was excellent, and it turned in when asked. I don't think the Myvi caught many admiring glances, but it stood out a little.

The 1.3 litre, four-cylinder engine coped well on the motorway. There was no judder, the ride was fairly smooth. When the wind picked up, it seemed to get blown around. It is tall; maybe they could cut down on that extra headroom.

I liked the Myvi, the styling and the interior, although the lack of a clock annoyed me. The stereo was very good.

The Myvi is well priced at £6,799 (with cashback for the 1.3SXi), but I am not sure what market it is aimed at. Maybe older ladies of leisure, looking for a different sort of hatchback to whiz around town in.

Ross Baker, 29, civil servant, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

USUAL CAR : AUDI A4 TURBO

A car like this was never going to be the most stylish, but it is very functional. It is typically box shaped for a car produced in Asia and looks a good alternative to the Proton or Daihatsu. The large silver and black dials/dashboard controls were all well laid out. I liked the light handling, responsive steering and quick gearchange. The large rectangular wing mirrors are a nice touch for a small hatchback. There is a fair amount of legroom and headroom. However, I did find the driver's seat uncomfortable. Although I would not automatically think of purchasing a brand-new Perodua Myvi over a European alternative, it seems like value for money.

Ross Ellis, 29, graphic designer, Southchurch, Essex

USUAL CAR: FIAT PUNTO

"But Perodua! What big door mirrors you have," I thought as I edged closer. In fact, that's not the only big thing about this small car. There is plenty of legroom, the headspace is ample, even the CD controls are like mini frisbees. Although it's very similar to a Daihatsu Sirion, Perodua has spent a bit more time on the styling and, to its credit, it's a better-looking car. The Myvi is quite nippy, but the ride can be a little hard on anything rougher than Tarmac, even though it was quiet and comfortable. The boot was quite small but with the back seats folded down there was more than enough room for the weekly shop. For the price, the Myvi has plenty to offer.

Miles Frith, 28, artworker, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex

USUAL CAR: CITROEN 2CV POLLY

Anything's better than a 2CV. The Myvi is an upright, right-angled machine with wing mirrors borrowed from a small truck and looks that say, "Gran, let's go to Asda". Inside, it's surprisingly roomy, and the stereo is better than reasonable. The seats aren't the best but what the car lacks in comfort it makes up for in posture correction. If you put your foot down there's a bit of poke and the light steering makes it enjoyable to drive. A blind spot is created by the A pillar, so right-hand turns are more exciting, but overall it's like driving in widescreen. The Myvi is not designed for picking up chicks, but if you've got to make a trip to the garden centre, it's ideal.

THE VERDICT

If you would like to take part, e-mail motoring@ indepen dent.co.uk or write to: The Verdict, Features Department, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

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