We don’t have many surprises about new cars these days. Product updates are frequent and improvements are incremental. When we do get the odd surprise, it’s usually from the content of the vehicle, such as new features or the number of features. driver? Usually, it’s within expectations.
Not so with the 2023 Perodua Axia. In the absence of prior leaks, we attended yesterday’s media preview event not knowing what to expect from the D74A. As it turns out, the second-gen Axia looks very different from the outgoing model — it’s noticeably larger, and it looks like it, with a more boxy-cut look and defined edges, as well as more pronounced lines and surfaces all over the body .
The front end of the new Axia adopts the Perodua family fascia, while the rear adopts a completely new concept – small and square light clusters at the edges, which is quite rare today. Like it or not, everyone will quickly get used to the new Axia designs because they are everywhere. Peruse the gallery below and check out our walkthrough video to learn more about the design.
You’re here to find out how the new Axia drives, and we’re eager to share it with you. First off – where exactly is the vibration? Now, if you’ve driven an Axia before, you know vibrations are a huge part of the experience. It’s not a worn mount, it’s part of the car’s character – there’s a jerk at idle, you don’t have to look for it like you do in the Ativa.
As if by magic, the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine is completely gone, even though it’s a carryover. We look for it and it’s not there. That means the new Axia’s drive improvements can be felt (technically, it should be “not felt”, but that’s okay) before you even start driving.
Our drive was only 7km, but the route from Mövenpick Hotel Sepang to the back of KLIA gave the new Axia a chance to show off its newfound skills. Aside from the lack of vibration, the 1KR-VE three-cylinder naturally aspirated unit makes 67 hp/91 Nm, and acceleration is vastly improved thanks to a D-CVT transmission that replaces the long-running four-speed automatic.
When it comes to “pickups” we’re always thinking about power and engines, but the Myvi facelift (the engine is also kept, the 4AT is swapped for a CVT) and now the Axia illustrate the transmission’s primary role in acceleration. Response is vastly improved, and with it comes confidence for overtaking and everyday driving. This is another weakness that Axia addresses.
The continuously variable transmission is a real game changer, and that’s before we even consider the fuel economy gains. Fuel consumption is now 25.3 km/l with the CVT and up to 27.4 km/l with the Eco Idle stop-start system. These purported figures are in what P2 calls the Malaysian Driving Cycle (MDC), which is said to follow local road conditions and driving patterns. We were told that the MDC is within the scope of the WLTP.
The engine is still very loud when stretched out, the sound of the mill is not pleasant, but this is only during hard acceleration – don’t forget we are in an entry-level car that started under RM40k. It was calm on the cruise; we took 110km /h reached a speed of around 2,800 rpm.
The 2023 Axia has a more sophisticated platform and a larger footprint, which is reflected in the way it drives on the road. The base model of the P2 feels more stable and composed on the road, and this improved ride comfort will benefit many of us, not just owners—the Axia and Bezza are, after all, the most popular ride-hailing vehicles. Photographer Sherman, a tall man who often sits in the back seat of the Axia, felt the change in the back seat.
All of these improvements, along with the introduction of tilt-steer adjustment for the first time, mean that the Axia now feels like a “normal car” to drive, rather than a cheap, stripped-down car. Actually a lot like Myvi.
Speaking of “King”, when I was picking an affordable tool to get through Covid and the MCO (remember?), I picked the Myvi G3. The Axia is cheaper, but I just can’t do it because of all these compromises in the drive and fixed steering driving position. Driving the new Axia yesterday got me thinking – if I had to make the same decision today, what would it be?
I’m leaning towards Axia. The drive is much improved, but the interior is the clincher – we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the horizontal dash with the “floating” screen and raised gear area. I appreciate the P2’s choice to angle the center stack and screen towards the driver – something the Honda and Proton don’t do. Overall, the dashboard gives a good impression of width and looks very modern, even a bit sporty.
With AV’s configurable digital instrument panel, touchscreen audio and digital AC panel (with memory) – as seen in the Ativa/Alza – there’s even tech to match the looks. The best part of the P2 parts bin (steering is also from Ativa), housed in the brand’s sleekest cabin to date, in the Axia. As an Ativa owner, I couldn’t be happier with this!
All in all, we’re looking at improved day and night improvements (powertrain and ride), better acceleration, a sophisticated and stylish cabin, and features that early Axia owners couldn’t even dream of. I might even get a new tool if the D74A manages closer to 25 km/l real world FC. As stated in the intro, we don’t often get stunned like this, but Perodua has launched the all-new Axia.
Hafriz Shah says
The test drive was short but eye-opening. Stepping inside, there’s noticeably none of the vibrations characteristic of a three-cylinder engine, so naturally I look for the start button. It turned out that the engine had already started. Alright, second-gen Axia, you’re off to a good start here.
Out onto the open road, the level of refinement is astounding. I just recently drove an original Axia – it was a late facelift – and the most important thing I couldn’t stand was the vibrations. However, the new ones are almost nonexistent. Not through the seat, nor through the steering wheel or pedals. Simply put, the difference is like night and day.
Another big takeaway is the new D-CVT transmission. Now, I wouldn’t dismiss four-speed autos entirely just because they’re old technology – I’d drive a smooth-shifting, well-tuned 4AT any day of the week instead of a rough and noisy CVT, but here it is This change is definitely positive. It certainly helps that the D-CVT is easily one of the better CVTs on the market.
Throughout the test route, the new Axia felt smooth, powerful enough and reasonably quiet. It’s all thanks to the new transmission, as we all know the 1.0-litre engine is exactly the same as the old car. Now, maybe the engine setup has also been greatly improved, but regardless, the end result is a car that feels more refined and upscale than before.
The ride feels impressive too, planted and stable, smooth and controlled on those dreaded yellow road lines. So much so that I’m pretty sure it’s more comfortable on these roads than the Myvi, let alone the old Axia. Now, I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating the improvements made here, but really, I’m not.
From the Kancil to the Viva to the Axia, the jump between each generation of Perodua’s entry-level cars has been transformative. However, this latest is without a doubt the most significant leap forward yet, especially when you also factor in the vastly enhanced interior.
Essentially, after a short drive, I’m now struggling to find a good enough reason to choose the Myvi over the new Axia. Maybe its new look will turn you towards the Eternal King (once you see the full Axia you’ll understand that), but other than that, the 2023 Axia should be your new default Perodua hatchback of choice. Myvi, you’re in trouble.
The 2023 Perodua Axia will be officially launched on February 14. All specs and details with permission to publish are here.Full gallery/details embargoed until release
Gallery: Perodua Axia D74A, Press Preview