Expert Review - Perodua Axia Mk1 (2014-Present)
15 October 2015
In isolation, the Perodua Axia is not exactly a bad car for the first-time buyer - certainly better than the Viva that came before it. But despite the low, low entry price, it doesn't offer that much value for money, and it feels low-rent everywhere you look. Given the strong, if slightly costlier, competition from both Proton and foreign brands, it's best to look elsewhere.
The all-new 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine belies its measly 66 hp/90 Nm output, pulling strongly from low revs; once you get up to speed, however, it does start to become asphyxiated. Fuel economy is a standout - you'll regularly achieve close to 20 km per litre in normal everyday driving. Manual shifts are clunky and imprecise, and the clutch lacks weight and feel - really, you're much better off with the smooth and fairly responsive automatic gearbox.
Ride & Handling
Mixed bag in this area. The ride is truly cosseting, soothing out much of what our pockmarked roads can throw at it - the trade-off, of course, is plenty of body roll. There's ample grip, but the steering is slow, vague and overly light in the bends; weirdly, however, it then becomes really rather heavy at low speeds, despite being electrically-assisted. For a city car, the Axia is surprisingly unsuited to manoeuvring around town.
The Axia suffers from a lot of wind and road noise, and while the thrummy three-pot engine note is in itself not entirely unpleasant, it's loud and sends plenty of vibration into the cabin at idle, though it does ease up when you get moving. You sit quite high up - this gives a commanding view of the road, but the low-set fixed steering wheel can rub against the thighs of taller drivers. The seats are also very narrow and lack any form of meaningful support or bolstering.
Standard safety equipment on the four-star ASEAN NCAP-rated Axia includes dual airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors and...that's about it. Forget stability control - shockingly in 2015, ABS is not even present on the Standard E and G models; you'll need to fork out at least RM35k for the SE manual to have it. That's somewhat an improvement over the Viva (which only had ABS on the top-of-the-range EZi and SXi variants), but in this day and age, we were expecting more.
Cabin room is the Axia's party piece - it's more spacious than the larger Myvi, both in terms of legroom and the commodious 260 litre boot; the rear bench only folds as a single piece, however. There are also plenty of convenient places to store your belongings, including a handbag hook to protect against prying thieves, as well as a handy tissue box compartment behind the front passenger seat.
At RM24k, the Axia Standard E is the cheapest car in Malaysia, but items like alloy wheels, a radio, reverse sensors and a rear wiper are only available on the RM30k Standard G. That's all well and good, but we consider ABS to be the bare minimum for active safety systems, and once you step up to the SE - which also adds Bluetooth, front parking sensors and a bodykit - it starts to get pricey, as the decently-equipped Proton Iriz 1.3 Standard (with ESC!) is just a stone's throw away. The hugely expensive RM40k Advance adds little and is an absolute no-no.