One thing that has continuously astounded me is products (in the automotive context) that overstay their welcome. What do I mean by that? On average, a car's product lifecycle ranges from 4 to 8 years, so any car (or product) that does not adhere to this rule, can be considered an oddity.
Of course, there has been oddities that had unusually long lifecycles through the years. For example, the seventh-generation Mitsubishi Lancer (10 years) and the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 (also 10 years, a successor has just been announced). In a Malaysian context, we have the Perodua Alza, which has been with us since 2009, and we're halfway through 2021.
Yes, we are anticipating the Alza's DNGA-platformed successor (codenamed D27A). As we wait, here are some features/improvements we think will make the all-new Perodua Alza a compelling, irresistable buy. Let's jump in.
Also read: Why Perodua isn’t replacing the Alza yet
A better, more modern powertrain
Let's not beat around the bush, the 3SZ-VE 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder (104 PS, 136 Nm) engine is not awful by any standards, but it's not cutting-edge stuff either. Paired to a 4-speed torque converter automatic (I deplore those things), the 7-seater feels every bit as pedestrian as the numbers suggest. And it needs to ferry seven!
Sure, power and torque outputs isn't the be all, end all in this segment of the market, but I am of the opinion that the incoming Alza could do with some turbocharged grunt. Better still, Perodua already have such a turbocharged powerplant, the 1KR-VE 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder (98 PS, 140 Nm) unit pulling duty in the Perodua Ativa.
Paired with the D-CVT transmission (also from the Ativa), I am almost certain that this will make running about in the all-new Alza a more effortless affair. On paper, there is not much output difference, but the Ativa's 140 Nm of peak torque is made at 2,400 rpm. The current Alza? 136 Nm at 4,400 rpm. From my experience in the Ativa, this makes it so much more driveable.
A keyless and dignified way to enter/exit the car
Another non-negotiable feature that the all-new Alza needs is definitely keyless entry and ignition. I get it, this feature wasn't compulsory in 2009, but more than a decade on, almost every car comes with it.
Even Perodua's most affordable cars, the Axia and Bezza, comes with such a feature, so there's simply no excuse for the Alza's successor to not leave the factory gates with it. While Perodua's at it, perhaps it's also another opportunity to right another minor gripe I have with the keyless system in current Peroduas: they're only on the driver's door.
This is one thing I always found a little annoying, and undignified, being unable to keylessly unlock the car away from the driver's door. It's 2021! That being said, I have always commended Perodua for democratising technology for the masses: keyless entry & ignition, LED headlights and even ADAS. Speaking of which....
More comprehensive safety features and ADAS
The current Alza boasts of a generous airbag count of two, plus it comes equipped with the mother of all safety inventions, ABS. And..... that's pretty much it. Oh wait, there's ISOFIX anchors. No traction control, no stability control, no ADAS of any sort. How is this car still on sale?
So, how can the successor do better? Well, it's not hard, is it? Start with a full array of airbags (front, side, and curtain), then add stability and traction control, finish off with Smart Drive Assist (Perodua's ADAS system) that's currently on the Ativa.
Think about it: a Perodua Alza, equipped with all the safety and ADAS technology that was previously the reserve of much more expensive vehicles. Doesn't that sound extremely compelling?
You don't have to be a genius to deduce that the outgoing Perodua Alza needs to be put out of its misery, fast. That you can still buy one new is pretty astounding to me, because who on earth would walk into a showroom with a straight face, and say they'd like to have one? That would be madder than prescribing warm water to cure Covid-19.
Despite that, I have every faith that Perodua will churn out an all-new Alza that will be day-and-night better than what is being served up currently. Heck, I'll say this much: if the Alza gets all the goodies mentioned above, it will be a winner.
You don't have to look far to see how having such features has worked out for the Perodua Ativa. It's no exaggeration to say that it has been a hit from launch till now. With a similar - but improved, the Kaizen way - recipe, I don't see why the all-new Perodua Alza can't follow in a similar vein. Watch this space.