Friday, October 22, 2010
Perodua Myvi As A Performance Car? Pink Elephants Can Fly.
The Perodua Myvi is unquestionably the most popular small hatchback in Malaysia. This one, pictured above in Pink, belongs to my better half. But, yours truly has been driving it around town over the past week or so.
So what do I think about the Myvi after a whole week or so? It's pink. I don't feel that I need to drive it with a brown paper bag over my head as I think I can carry any color well. It is very easy to drive and park. Important for city driving. It has a 4speed automatic gearbox, a 1.3liter engine that is pretty decent at the traffic lights and can cruise at around 110-120km/h with ease. It is spacious for a small hatch, but it has such a tall roof to give it the impression of space. Although the only purpose a tall roof would give is if you wore a tall hat or if you had a hairstyle that would need a building permit.
It is cheap. Has airbags for safety (this pink one does anyway), Saves fuel. Cheery looking in pink, tangerine orange, red and just plain normal in most other colors. Build quality is good for RM48k and as transport, it does do this menial task extremely well. Now if you want a performance car. The Myvi isn't one.
The brakes, in not so many words, are rubbish. You actually need to apply some force for it to actually stop if you're taking the Myvi for a harder than usual drive. It lacks stopping power and feel. It is either the servo is too small or that the O.E pads and discs are terrible. Upon checking with a trusted performance parts supplier I found out that the stock Myvi brake pads are three-quarters the size of the Daihatsu YRV. Those that are in the know would tell you that the Myvi shares a lot of parts with this car as well as with the Daihatsu Sirion, which is the actual car the Perodua Myvi is based on.
In other words, Perodua is skimping on the brakes. So are the standard brakes adequate? Yes they are. For normal driving they are but not for any spirited drives or for that emergency stop from 140km/h. I now actually fear for the safety of those people driving their Myvis on the Malaysian highways at over120km/h as I believe any faster on the stock pads, the Myvi would take a while to slow down to a stop. Not so good in an emergency and not so good if you think your Myvi is your first performance car - I know there are alot of Malaysians who think or would like to think it is such a car. I suggest stop thinking as such and think of the Myvi as decent 4 wheeled transport that is better looking than a Proton Saga.
The driving position is somehow very Gorilla-like. Italian driving position in fact. It somehow has a slightly long arm-short legged driving position that is actually quite fatiguing to drive in the long run. You do not feel it on short hops to downtown KL but if you took it for a 1 or 2 hour drive, you can feel some strain in your arms, unless you're a chimpanzee that is. It is has a tall sitting position. Good for getting in and out of the car. You just pivot your hips and step out of the car. Like any good town car. But not good for spirited driving as you sit too high up and the center of gravity is high. Oh yes, and if you bought any of those with the leather seats fitted, you will find out that if you take a corner too fast, your butt may slide off from the seat and you'll be holding on the steering for dear life. I've mentioned this in one of my earlier articles too.
The car's ride is on the firm side too, but it still rolls in corners. In other words, the springs are hard but it does not help cure any body roll. And that short wheelbase does not help much. It feels at sea. Corkscrewing on slower, tighter bends as well as leaning away from the corner if you're pushing it really hard. It needs a rear anti-roll bar as the standard Myvi does not have one.
Really spirited driving in a stock Myvi could lead to its tail stepping out in fast sweeping corners. I took a long sweeping corner at slightly over 100km/h, understeer started building and as the rear wheel crossed some yellow lines, it slipped easily, causing the tail to squirm thereby unnerving the heck out of me mid-corner. The tall and narrow tires may also shoulder part of the blame but I believe its down to the chassis tuning, or lack of it. Heck, its an affordable car for the masses. What miracles do you expect it to do?
So, the Perodua Myvi isn't a performance car at all. I knew it wasn't from the start. To me it's a very affordable roundabout that if convenient to drive around town. I like it as it will give its owner good visibility from the high seating position, good fuel economy, nippy around town, good space and everyday practicality, ease of drive and good build quality at its price. Expect the Myvi to do only what I've mentioned above, and it shines. Expect it to even be a cheap hot hatch ala Suzuki Swift Sport or even a Daihatsu Sirion X4 clone and you must have delusions of grandeur. Or just plain over-ambitious or like Don Quixote, plain naive and dumb (or extremely blind or drunk). A windmill isn't a monster and a Myvi isn't a sports car.