I suppose this article is a tad bit late as Perodua has already launched the second generation Myvi. But then again, I have news for you. There is actually no difference betweeen the old 1st generation Myvi 1.3 and the new Myvi 1.3 beneath the new bodyshell, new floating type dashboard and the electrically assisted power steering that supposedly helps the engine make 4 more horses (quite true, but slightly off as the Myvi actually came with an improved cylinder head when it was facelifted – giving more torque lower down and one or two horses but this was not mentioned at all. Why? Who knows.) I should know as my mother in law just bought one and I don’t seem to think that there is a big difference compared to the pink one pictured herein after a hard drive up to Genting Sempah using the old Bentong Road (lots of body roll, lots of holding on to the steering wheel for support).
Anyway, you now have a 1st generation 1.3 Myvi from 2005- mid2011. How do you improve the performance of a Myvi? You sell it and buy yourself a Proton Inspira 2.0. No? You’re stuck with it for the next five years at the very least because you took a nine year loan that only breaks even in four and a half years? Okay. Aside from being suicidal as you’re stuck with a tall, skinny tyred town car for the next five or so years your options are limitless. Remember, this is Malaysia. Everything that you want to do to it can be done. The only thing that would limit you is money. The lack of it.
But seriously folks, you could plonk in a Daihatsu Boon X4 turbocharged 1.0liter engine, a YRV 1.3liter turbocharged engine or whatever engine that floats your boat. Or car. Provided that the Road Transport Department agrees with your choice that is.
But if you aren’t interested in going through all the hassle of changing engines or you think that you need a little bit extra and not the full monty, you do things bit by bit and a little at a time. So the question that begs to be asked would be what is the first item, or two, that you need to do to make your Perodua Myvi a little bit better to drive?
It isn’t more power actually. The car is pretty nippy as it is. In my earlier article about the pink coloured Myvi 1.3 EZ automatic I already mentioned that it is a decent performer at the traffic lights, in and about traffic and can easily cruise the Malaysian highways at 120km/h. I have seen a YouTube video of some unlucky sods in a JDM Impreza WRX STI tailing a Myvi at about 180km/h and was then left slightly behind by it. This was because the Myvi did not come with a speedcut like most Japanese Domestic Market cars do. If I was the guys in the STI, I wouldn’t have even uploaded that clip on YouTube. An STI humiliated by a Myvi. Albeit a manual version.
So where was I? Ah, the first items that you could get for your Myvi. Well, the first truly important item you should get for your Myvi are original Perodua aluminium pedal covers. Stock Myvi pedals are really crap. The accelerator pedal is bare metal which is painted black. The brake pedal is rubber pad covered. Why Perodua cannot come up with a non-slip cover for the accelerator pedal is beyond me. It is because of this that you should absolutely get the aluminium pedal covers during your first or second service at the Perodua service center. You could get aftermarket ones, but these are original optional equipment. You cannot go wrong with the size and fit. And it makes the interior look better too.
No. It does not add 5bhp. It just makes the cabin feel a better place to be in. All for a price of RM50-60.00.
The next step is actually the more important bit. One that improves the Myvi a whole lot. You see, the Myvi is rubbish through the bends. It does not like bends a whole lot. This is basically down to the tall and not so rigid body as well as really skinny and tall 175/65/14 tyres.
Some would think that the wheels are the first you should upgrade. You could go and upgrade to 15, 16 or 17 inch wheels and tyres but you would technically add unsprung weight to the car. Unsprung weight and increased rolling resistance do not help a tiny 1.3liter car. Notice that drag cars do not use huge wheels, but small, balloon-like tyres to keep the inertia low and grip high. Yes. The magic isn’t in 20inch wheels for race cars. Also note that race cars are seldom seen in sizes other than 17 or 18 inch even when there are 20,21 inch wheel combos out there. So what does the Myvi need then to improve its handling? You need to fix the chassis first this time around.
The Perodua Myvi of 2005 to mid 2011 is a flimsy car. If you rode it over speed bumps a little faster than usual the whole dashboard would feel like a bomb exploded in it. If you graduated from a Perodua Kancil you’d think all cars did this. They don’t okay? It’s called scuttle shake and not many cars in this era have it. The only reason a car like this would feel like this is the fact that its structure, or monocoque chassis is not rigid. It does not have to be Mercedes Benz rigid but there should be some sense of solidity when a car rides across bumpy surfaces. A car also needs a rigid chassis so that important items like lower arms, shock absorbers have a solid place to sit on and not flex. This flex means that there is slack in the handling, and slack means a terrible handling and even grip.
This is why I did not feel confident when taking a long sweeping corner at 100km/h on a stretch of highway in KL. The car felt like it was floaty and vague through the corner. It also required me to concentrate a tad bit while taking the corner. It does not mean that the Myvi cannot take a corner at speeds higher than 100km/h. It can. But it requires more focus, more concentration and more care to do so than you would in even a Proton Persona. Some people wouldn’t even notice such feedback. Which is the actual reason why you see them beating WRX STIs on the highways. The thing about me is that I do notice little traits that cars like these have and in the Myvi, it unnerves me. If I need to think too much through a corner, this means I am trying too hard. And it this floaty and vague nature of the Myvi that urgently needs correcting before any other mods that need to be done.
The cure is quite simple. A front suspension strut brace/bar. I got the car an Ultra Racing 2 point strut bar in the Myvi and a lot changed. The car felt planted through the same sweeping corner at 100km/h and over speed bumps things felt better. The dashboard didn’t feel like exploding and somehow the whole car felt more planted nearly everywhere. This little mod, costing a bit over RM100.00 actually made the Myvi a whole lot better to drive and allow it to corner about 10km/h faster than before without the driver actually trying too hard. And as such, I have to state that this is the most important mod for a 1st generation Myvi, bar none.
So there you have it. Two basic mods. Both extremely important for the 1st gen Myvi. But I somehow sense that if you did the same to the new Myvi, you’d get the same results.
Note: This could be the first in a series of articles featuring our long term cars.