A class act of a compact car

Published on August 17th, 2009

For many, especially compact car enthusiasts and fans, this curiously-styled, boxy little Perodua Kenari that has been totally transformed into a unique and to some, rather interesting and odd-looking compact car, is a way and means of being different on the road and a form of expression of one’s liking and passion for classy and stylish compact motoring.

Compact cars like the Perodua Kenari, Perodua Viva, Perodua Kelisa, and even the likes of the Hyundai Atos and the Naza Sutera, or Forza as it is known as nowadays, are no longer just little mobiles that are cheap to own and run, as well as ideal for squeezing through congested city traffic. Many compact car owners are proud of their little rides and carry out all sorts of upgrades, modifications and enhancements inside out to set them apart from the rest of the compact motoring fraternity.

This one-of-a-kind K-car is a testament to this. Owning and driving this unique-looking, force-fed compact rocket is a wacky way to travel around and nimbly traverse through usually congested city traffic while turning heads and attracting curious stares and looks from passers-by and onlookers. When at the wheel of such a car, one undoubtedly must also be prepared to weather a few sniggers once in a while here and there.

Based on Daihatsu’s successful Kei-car concept that was designed by famous Italian automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, which has now spawned a range of small city mobiles, this former Kenari is still a sensible and quite a fast micro-MPV to drive around even after such an extensive transformation. To the untrained eye, the shape, lines and look of this former Kenari can be startling for many at first. It has a retro-modern fusion look and appeal, somewhat similar to that of the Mini, although it does lack the Mini’s reputation, heritage and following.

The retro-modern fusion look which is both unique and rare comes courtesy of the DCN-Vixi exterior bodykit that was sourced from Japan through a good friend of the owner. Although the DCN-Vixi bodykit was costly, it was deemed as worth it by the owner as it fulfilled his need and quest to make his Kenari different from the others that ply Malaysian roads. To complete the exterior makeover and further enhance the uniqueness and appeal of this car, the owner decided to scrap the stock roof of the car and replaced it with one from the land of the rising sun that has an automatic sunroof.

The stock and rather bland Kenari interior that initially adorned this car’s cabin was scuttled in favour of a complete Daihatsu Move RS interior which was not only classier but also more comfortable and pleasing on the eyes.

Not to sound demeaning, but a stock standard Perodua Kenari just did not cut it for this car’s owner. For him, a stock standard Perodua Kenari is a rather narrow, somewhat frenetic box on wheels. In its current look and guise, this former Kenari is quite a stylish, well-equipped box, and it is a small car that has been given a total makeover complete with an engine transplant. Out went the stock, uninspiring but rather economical 1.0-litre three cylinder twincam motor that produced roughly about 60hp, and in came a far more powerful, quicker, faster, and thirstier 140hp 1.3-litre K3VET turbocharged powerplant that came courtesy from a Daihatsu YRV. The K3VET engine really bumped up this car’s performance, speed and acceleration, giving it a rather a light and airy feel that is really felt by the driver because of its compact size.

The exterior design might look odd to some, but the overall effect is cheeky and grin-inducing. It has an infectious personality that lets you forgive it for its narrow dimensions. The equipment levels are much better thanks to the use of Move RS parts and accessories.

The car boast such luxuries as adjustable head restraints, foldable rear seats, a driver’s and front passenger airbag, side impact protection, engine immobilizer, a sporty leather wrapped three spoke steering wheel with steer shift, electric windows all round, central locking, and a decent baffling Kenwood face-off complete stereo system.

Its compact size allows it to easily zip through inner city traffic and into tight parking spots. High speed cornering is a synch in this car as it can cope well with such a maneuver, partially thanks to its lower center of gravity brought about by the much stiffer TEIN coilover suspension which replaced the rather soft stock suspension set-up. The 1.3 K3-VET engine’s power saw the tyres screeching to no end when the car was throttled around a roundabout, and the tiny but sturdy 14”inch Daihatsu OEM wheels spun wildly from a standing start, which all adds to its charm. The car performs and runs remarkably well. Driving on the highway was an exciting experience as the better power to weight ratio enabled the owner to take this car well beyond the stipulated highway speed limit, although I will not divulge as to what speed this car is capable of on a long straight stretch of wide, open road. I’ll leave this to your imagination and calculated guess.

On long sweeping bends, the force-fed adrenaline-inducing power to be had from the potent turbocharged 1.3-Litre inline four, coupled together with the TEIN coilovers provides for a thrillingly quick entrance and exit that will leave wannabe boy racers in their bigger rides blushing with their mouths wide open trailing behind. Shooting up uphill stretches was not a problem either as this deceivingly fast Kei-car’s 140hp made sure that gravity would not hinder its speed and acceleration to higher altitudes. Sitting inside the cabin on the comfortable Move RS derived seats made the ride experience in this pocket rocket all the more fun.

Be aware that this head-turner is currently up for sale as the owner has decided that it has to go to someone else where ownership is concerned because he plans to indulge in superbikes for weekend rides. This car is probably best purchased as a second or third car as it is currently used as a weekend car and is rarely driven. It has never been driven outstation so it has not stepped out of the Klang Valley, being a true city slicker. It is great fun to drive and it is a noticeably fast short-range means of transport. It is also in our humble opinion, a clever, interesting if slightly oddball, worthy used buy.

words: Azdee Amir  pix: Dinesh Appavu

Technical  Specification:

Engine:

1.3-litre inline four twincam 16-valve K3VET, SARD air filter, thermal wrap, stainless-steel piping, 140hp, in access of 160km/h

Transmission:

Four-speed automatic with steer shift mode

Bodywork:

DCN-Vixi & Daihatsu Move RS

Interior:

Complete Daihatsu Move RS

Rolling Stock:

OEM Daihatsu five-spoke wheels with 165/55 R14 Bridgestone tyres

Comments

  1. Posted by leng on November 15th, 2009, 02:08

    lawa btol.. layan rs pun jd la…

  2. Posted by boy on November 2nd, 2010, 14:02

    ape colour code keta ni?.. terbaik..

  3. Posted by Traffic Mag on November 2nd, 2010, 15:44

    owner pon tak ingat the colour code bro… except dat it’s glassurit.

  4. Posted by Mohammed on July 24th, 2012, 23:05

    biasenye kalu timing jd tngigi rendah tngigi rendah tuu gear plastik kat trotel body tu yg jehanam bru2 ni keta aju pn jadi gila pas aku rem juara aku enjin x mau slow aku bukak trotel body tuu servis dan valve atas head tu aku ganti baru aku test past tu same gak pastu aku biar je.. skrg dah ok cam biase balik.. tekejut beruk gamaknye bile aku men ram enjin gile2 di ingatkan trotel body juara ni mencecah ribuan ringgit cari kat kedai potong laa tanya azman pdg jawa(seperti nombor diatas), pomen ( wan)kat berhampiran kedai sparepat dia tu bleh dpt brg juara secondhand tq

  5. Posted by mohd nizat on May 20th, 2013, 15:18

    Dah intai bkit ni tp tup2 dikebas org, ayam telepah tgn ada bau…hu3..
    Anyone have news where to find this kind of marvellous bkit. TQVM

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