2004 Perodua Kelisa GXi 1.0 petrol from UK and Ireland
As cheap as motoring gets - and endearing too
We are now running two identical (pre-facelift) Kelisas, both GXi models in Petangi purple metallic. The 2004 car has 13,100 miles, the 2002 car has 78,000 miles.
2004: Purchase cost inc 12 months MOT £1700 plus flight to Scotland and 350 mile drive back! Owned by an elderly man at a seaside address and had covered only 9,000 miles in 5 years, so needed minor service and rotten exhaust replacing immediately, some minor fettling to make perfect, the stone chips and some under-bonnet sea salt damage dealing with along with deep cleaning and extensive valeting.
Note: noticeable rusting of underbody seams and rear axle from sea-salt.
Non-wearing part faults:
1/ Ongoing central locking fuse issue - it stops working sporadically, but just requires the 15A fuse pulling out from under the dash and pushing back in to reset the system, which then works again for a few more weeks. Have tried everything to resolve it, but it is not difficult to occasionally reset it.
2/ All front light lenses required fiddly cleaning around the outer edge seals to remove moss - poor design holds water in and causes this minor cosmetic flaw.
3/ Minor rattles - cigarette lighter, passenger air-bag cover, rear shelf, rear seat mounts.
After about 40 hours of attention and sorting, it now runs as well as a 2009 car; rattle free, crisp, sharp, consistent and amazingly composed and refined for a very cheap car - has good body control and is great fun along B roads and slicing through town.
2002: Purchase cost inc 12 months MOT £830 plus 150 mile round trip. A cheap, tatty, abused, hard-used car with 78,000 miles, no service history and six owners - needed significant time spending to make good.
This one was a project bought on a tight budget as a second car essential - nice that it matched the other one!
Service items: was desperately neglected so went to a main dealer immediately for a major service and cam-belt change, wiper blades etc at a cost of £300 - a lot to spend on an old Perodua, but it has resurrected it.
An obsessive deep valet inside and out has made it look presentable and restored the whited plastics and endless scratches. Barring the dents, the body has polished up well and careful use of the correct paint (Halfords/Holts mix £7.99) has hidden the stone chips and damage. Silicon polish and rain-x finished it off.
Note: numerous areas of (non-chip/accident) corrosion found; lower sill joint area, both lower rear wheel arch lowers behind the plastic stone chip stickers, under bonnet in places. Both OS doors have been repainted after damage, but the sill area below the B-pillar looks original - but has corroded noticeably with pin-holes through the sill. Disappointing in a 2002 car.
Endless faults from neglect:
1/ Electric windows lazy, needed guides lubricating and window runners both sides needed removing, realigning and gluing in place after constant faulty window use had dragged the runners down into the door.
2/ Front door seals needed realigning and gluing in place.
3/ Wiper arms dry and not pulling in hard enough so joint and springs lubricated.
4/ Rattles throughout cured by investigation and remedial work.
5/ EVERYTHING on the car that moved needed cleaning and lubrication - pedals, locks, hinges, seat runners etc.
6/ Seat fabric heavily damaged by dogs, but was simply trimmed, run over with a gents razor and restored with a lighter flame to remove scags and fluff. Big job, but looks as new now.
7/ Odd ride cured by swapping tyres around and correcting pressures.
8/ Steering wheel centralised by removal and realigning on the spline.
9/ Broken jack repaired.
10/ Currently has sporadic screech on starting - have tightened and sparingly belt-lubed the drive belts, but this has not cured it.
Both cars have had a lot of attention to detail with quality polish, mats, matching dealer plates etc and now look good.
A useful upgrade are the +100% halogen bulbs and LED sidelight bulbs.
Note: Bootlid does not open very high - easy to injure yourself on this.
Note: No ABS but the light kerbweight, good body control and gentle brakes make this less essential than you might think.
Note: Kelisa is a Daihatsu Cuore built in Malaysia with Daihatsu parts and some cosmetic differences. EX is base model with grey bumpers, GXi has remote locking and electric windows, EZi is a 3 speed auto version of GXi with electric mirrors and body colour mirrors. Launched in UK in 2002, facelifted in late 2004 with uglier front and dodgy seat trim. SE versions added with Bluetooth and reversing sensors around 2006. Discontinued in 2007 with some cars registered 2009/58. Replaced in Malaysia with new Viva (old Daihatsu Charade), not in UK yet.
The Kelisa is a nice little car, that once fettled correctly and serviced properly, runs like a watch. Most owners are older and fastidious, sticking to service regimes religiously and garaging their cars.
If looked after properly and serviced, the Daihatsu mechanicals are famed to cover 150,000 miles without fuss and the majority of the car is Daihatsu - who were named as "most reliable brand 2009" in Auto Express Driver Power.
The driving experience is better than you would imagine, due to 760kg weight and characterful 3 cylinder Daihatsu engine. The controls are very accurate and direct, with crisp, unadulterated steering not affected by excessive weight transfer because of the light weight, making the car enjoyable to drive enthusiastically around the lanes.
My biggest surprise was the higher speed cruising ability, helped by the very high fifth gear reducing engine noise and the small frontal area and effective door and window seals (if in good order - see above) minimising wind roar. For a cheap, budget car it is a reasonable long distance tourer and has surprisingly comfortable seats, with a good driving position and easy controls. The return trip from buying one was 350 miles on busy motorways in heavy rain and was done without fuss, aches or pains in one go-on £30 of fuel.
There is a clear difference between the two cars due to mileage and history, the most obvious being the shiny steering wheel, pedals etc on the worn older car, plus the drive differs with the high mileage car having vaguer body control and looser controls, but having a torquier engine which pulls from lower speeds in top gear.
Overall, the Kelisa is a pleasant and under-rated small car, ideal for the current financial times. I regularly see 50-60mpg and the insurance is cheap enough, tyres are £30 a piece fitted, a major main dealer service is £120, but the one annoyance is the £120 road tax band-at 121g/km it misses out by 1g/km on the £35pa tax band, but it will reduce down to £90 in 2010...
Earlier in the year, my wife and I ran 2 brand new Daihatsu Sirions which were sold to raise capital - we have bought and sold a few cars since! The two Kelisas represent the cheapest way possible of us both having tidy reliable cars without finance.
That being said, they are enjoyable to live with and are well equipped with remote locking, electric (auto) windows, power steering, internal fuel and boot release, decent stereos, nice trim and comfortable seats, great ventilation system and nice controls.
The drive is entertaining too, with everyone who has a go grinning and commenting on how fun the drive is!
Overall, a budget Malaysian car which was very cheap new, yet has a certain charm even years on. A pleasant mix of Japanese engineering, quirky design and surprisingly good dynamics gives an enjoyable, reliable and fun car on the very tightest budget.
I have covered 3,000 miles in 8 weeks without fault in the 2004 car, which is booked to drive fully loaded to Poland this winter.
The 2002 car runs very well indeed considering the history, barring the occasional start up screech (not the belts).
I plan to run both cars for a while and then sell them on for a small profit, after all costs, as I usually do. Even if I only break even after 6 months, my only loss is my initial fettling time and this gives me FREE motoring if I make enough to cover the road tax and insurance too. At 50-60mpg it is a good way of having two cars for minimal costs.
My last car, the YRV was bought for £1500 and sold for £2000 - covering all costs, tax and insurance. When I pull up next to the stressed and worried guy in the rep car, it makes some sense driving what I do, even if some people laugh at it!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th August, 2009
31st Aug 2009, 09:32
2002 car: has been back to dealer and they seem to have finally sorted the screech on cold start with the fitment of two new drive belts (£20 all in). The old belts, when removed were glazed and cracked after 80k miles and so my tightening and lubing of them was pointless.
Rattles - the final two rattles have been cured:
Glovebox - original rubber bumpstop inside catch against bar had perished. Replaced with piece of foam rubber.
Boot area - this drove me to despair after stripping rear seats, trim panels, spare wheel, lock mechanism and so on. Finally traced to third brake light - some dipstick had changed a bulb and not refitted the holder correctly so it was loose and rattled constantly. Silence is golden. At last...
Meta remote locking fob button perished, ordered new blank Meta fob off ebay (innards just swap easily enough). Only £3.
2004 car: back seat rattle cured by wrapping thick tape around rear seat upright side catch bars. Easy.
Both cars are now 100% after some extensive fiddling, and represent the cheapest form of reliable motoring. The trim and certain bits needed some handiwork, but the Daihatsu mechanicals and running gear were spot on. With some effort I have got both cars up to an excellent standard and feel confident in both of them in any conditions.
One of them will be doing a 3000 mile Europe trip in deepest Winter... not something I would normally attempt in such a cheap, old or basic car, but I am confident to take either of these cars now they are fully sorted.
7th Oct 2009, 01:44
After much family discussion, the decision was made to swap one of the Kelisas for a larger car (Omega) to complete the winter Europe trip in safety. We had no doubt that either car could make the journey, but every time we go to Poland we get hit by something, and having a baby in a tiny car was not practical in case of another rear end shunt.
So the 2002 car has gone to a good friend for £1300. This represents a small monetary loss and a huge labour time loss, but I have enough faith in the car to sell it to a friend as he after all these works it should last for many years. Daft thing is that the 80k mile 2002 car drives better than the 15k mile 2004 one we kept - due to the higher mileage wearing everything in and making is smoother, torquier and quieter. Strange!
I will run the 2004 Kelisa for a while yet - no faults after 5,000 miles in a few months except an occasionally lazy temp gauge.