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Has People movers taken over the Malaysia?

POSTED BY Shuen Lim ON 16 September 2019

by Nick Tan

The SUV market has taken Malaysia and the world by storm with sales growing relentlessly over the past eight years as car buyers place their money on these people movers.

One likely reason for their growing local popularity is that they appear to be a godsend to Malaysians to take on the pothole riddled roads and minimise costly suspension damage. Living in a country prone to flash floods also makes these vehicles very desirable for their higher ground clearance. Additionally, they are also great family cars with a large practical boot space and being able to seat many people comfortably. There’s also a better view from up there for the “balik kampung” trips.

Generally, these vehicles lean more towards the pricier side due to their size, off-road capabilities and a wide array of new technologies – hence not making them very financially feasible to many average Malaysian wage earners , especially fresh graduates and B40.

This market demand has led to a new emerging automotive segment – the Entry Level Small SUVs, ‘wannabe’ SUVs aka crossovers, and small MPVs. The solution to keeping them low cost and affordable? Downscaling the cars in almost every aspect from size, to comfort features hence comes the term ‘small’ being heavily associated with this segment.

Unlike sedans which are mostly two-wheel drive, the SUVs have evolved from their original four-wheel drive to all-wheel drive and now to the lowest-cost iteration of two-wheel drive ala the latest Honda C-RV two-wheel drive. This evolution gives meaning to the term – competition benefits the consumer.

Entering the race are the Perodua Aruz, Toyota Rush, Toyota Avanza, and the Proton Exora. All attractively priced under the RM100,00 mark which is considered affordable for these types of vehicles.

Let’s start by comparing the Perodua Aruz (starting at RM72,900 w/o insurance) and the Toyota Rush (starting at RM93,000 w/o insurance). At first glance, the difference in brand prestige might seem to justify the RM20,000 difference. But upon closer inspection, they appear to be practically the same car. Mechanically, they share the same moving parts – same 1,496cc engine, 4-speed AT transmission, similar horsepower, and the same max torque output. Even safety features don’t differ much. This isn’t surprising considering they’re built at the same Perodua factory in Rawang, with all engine variants and transmissions assembled in the same factories from Negeri Sembilan. Ultimately, it appears to be the same car but in different packaging and marques. One foreign and more prestigious, the other homegrown and humble. Which one would you choose?

Within the same price range are the Toyota Avanza (starting RM80,888 w/o insurance) and the Proton Exora (starting RM59,800 w/o insurance). Both operate on old platforms but have proven to be reliable purchases with good track records. What’s better is that both these models were given a recent facelift to keep them competitive in the market, making them very attractive choices.

So, if you’re in the market for an entry level people mover, what would you choose?

#nicktan