This is the seventh Perodua I have owned of 93 cars, and my first Kenari.
We sold our 2007 Myvi for an excellent price and bought this as it was available, local and cheap enough. We retain our other 2006 Myvi (see report “Great Japanese…”) and our Parents run a 2010 Myvi, which I drive (see report “Toyota Passo…”).
See my 2002 Kelisa report (“Proven Japanese….”) and 2004 Kelisa (“As cheap as….”)
So, we are big Perodua fans and know a fair bit about the brand, and chose this as a cheap runabout with the same engine and mechanicals as our excellent Kelisas. However, it has not been the best choice so far. This car had 27,000 miles, and was a two owner, fairly tidy car, but had been doctored with an oil treatment to mask the oil leak and slight loss of power, plus smoky exhaust. These engines usually last OK, so would be interested to know the cause of this huge fault.
To cut a long story very short, the engine had to be replaced due to piston ring issues on cylinders 1 and 3, but now runs fine with a 2006 engine fitted at reasonable cost.
Regardless of this, the car itself is reasonable, but is the weak link in the 2000-now Perodua model line up, as it is not the best designed or engineered car. Whereas the Myvi is well engineered and modern, and the Kelisa uses the same mechanicals as the Kenari, but they come together far better as a more rounded package; the Kenari feels like most of the parts are not designed specifically for this application.
The engine, while fine in the Kelisa, struggles in the Kenari with the added weight and wind resistance, and constantly feels underpowered, especially with the long gear ratios and very high fifth gear, which can only really be used over 70mph, long after the stability levels have been reached. Second is far too high and baulks out of town junctions, which the Kelisa would have breezed, and the general feeling on the road is that the car is always out of its depth. At 70mph+ the car wanders and is hugely noisy.
Where the Kelisa is perfectly balanced and fluid, with a good degree of body control and the right amount of weighting and feel, the Kenari soon finds the limit if the suspension and floats, wallow and crashes at 50+mph on B-roads. It does turn in fairly well and grips better on corners than it rightly should, but it is very tiring with the lack of power, poorly spaced gear ratios, lack of insulation, and the enormous wind roar around the mirrors and front windows, which means you are deafened above 60mph (68mph on speedo is true 60mph).
The cabin is very similar to the Kelisa, but is actually more cramped due to the seat not going back far enough, and the electric window controls and centre console being in the way of your knees, so at 5’10”, I JUST fit in, but have 5 inches of excess headroom over my head, which unless you want to wear an enormous hat, it's totally pointless as this excess height ruins the handling. The car is also narrow, and two sizeable adults will constantly nudge each other in the front - which strangely does not happen in the Kelisa due to seat layout and more legroom, however there is more footroom in the rear, and the rear seats recline and have headrests, unlike the Kelisa. The boot is larger, but has no load cover, and has only a small advantage on floor space. Generally, the packaging is bad, as most of the space gained over the Kelisa is in the useless huge air-space in the roof.
Other than the poor design, the car is fairly well made, and I do like the side opening boot and nice seat fabrics. Compared to the Kelisa, which is so well developed and fine tuned, the Kenari feels like someone has built a kit car out of Kelisa bits, and did not allow for the specifics of the taller and wieldier body shell, as the car does not feel happy in any circumstance, even though it is running absolutely perfectly.
There are many odd bits, one being the double-din stereo, which automatically jumps back the start of the CD track when switched off and on; crazy when listening to a long album track and getting in and out of the car on a short journey! This CD player looks smart, but has no RDS, which is infuriating in our hilly area.
There are no front cup-holders like the Kelisa, and the mirrors are basic ball mounted things, which are very tall, but not wide - ideal for narrow gaps but have huge side blind-spots, but the whole thing moves if knocked - not just the casing.
The rear screen is curved, so even a new blade skips and misses the top arc of the screen - even if it did, it still would not wipe the 3rd brakelight, which is an over-sight by the designers.
When buying Perodua, you know are buying a very cheap budget car, but both the Kelisa and Myvi do not feel like a hardship, as they are thoroughly engineered, well set up and great value.
The Nippa felt cheap and basic; it was, but the Kenari is more expensive and was supposed to be a move up from a Kelisa for young families in Malaysia. What is very striking about the Kenari, is that it is nowhere near as good as the Kelisa in so many areas such as cabin quality, appearance, front legroom, handling, balance, performance, economy and overall enjoyment. There are no rattles or squeaks though!
I would not buy another Kenari, but would unreservedly recommend the Kelisa for those on a budget wanting a fun, enjoyable cheap to run small car, or the Myvi for those who want a comfortable and capable small family car.
The Kenari is not an enjoyable little fun car, and too compromised in the cabin, dynamics and safety for a small family. It is therefore the weak link in the model range.
After spending out on the engine, I will have to cover 10,000 miles before I sell it to recoup the cost. In this time, I may come to see the charms of it, and I will update on further issues or notes as time goes on.
In a sentence; it is tough going from a Myvi to Kenari, but from a Myvi to a Kelisa would have been fine.