Myvi Goes Just As Gung-ho With CVT

By Lee Pang Seng @ Leeps

THE Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) has been around for quite a while going back to the days when the car was still in its infancy. It is increasingly becoming the favoured choice today as carmakers realised that such a transmission work best with small capacity engines by allowing more efficient operation in tapping power output and providing better fuel mileages.

Moreover, a CVT has much fewer parts than an automatic transmission and is therefore, cheaper to produce. It is also continuously being refined to make it more efficient in operation and more durable in the long run. Basically, the system comprises two variable pulleys connected by a belt or chain, with preset points to serve as ‘gears’.

Given this trend, it isn’t a surprise that the Perodua has jumped onto the CVT bandwagon with the latest version of the third-generation Myvi. Adding onto this significant change in transmission is the introduction of the Perodua Smart Drive Assist (PSDA). Part of this package is available across the model range and only the top AV (Advanced Variant) model gets the complete PSDA equipment range.

Visually, there is minimal change in body styling between old and new but you could still tell the newcomer at a glance. The daytime running lights (DRLs) in LED (light emitting diode) are featured as vertical strips on the front bumper. This DRLs are neatly located in a niche at the extreme ends of the restyled bumper. This is balanced at the rear by vertical rubber slats on the rear bumper.

If there were reservations about the Myvi losing out on its quick pace with CVT, Perodua arranged a media drive between Putrajaya and Johor Baru to dispel that notion. Given the progressive improvements made to the CVT, Perodua is confident that its D-CVT (dual mode continuously variable transmission) would serve its role well, both in a young and hotheaded drive and a family way.

During the vehicle launch, CEO (chief executive officer) Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad said: “The Dual Mode CVT would further enhance transmission efficiency (against the previous four-speed automatic), is light weight and compact sized, provides smooth and powerful acceleration at low speeds and would make the vehicle quieter while increasing fuel efficiency.”

We were allocated the top AV model for the drive from the Putrajaya Marriot Hotel and took the first drive. Before we delve into our drive experience, let us fill you on the engine details. The power unit is the same as before, which in the AV case, is a 1.5-litre (1496cc, 2NR-VE) double overhead cams and Dual VVT-i engine that delivers 76kW (103ps) at 6000rpm and 137Nm at 4200rpm. (There is a 1.3-litre entry model among the four available in the range).

Initial acceleration with light accelerator work was smooth though we couldn’t quite tell if it was 20 per cent quicker than the automatic transmission model. What we do know is that a stab at the pedal to get going quickly would bring out that characteristic CVT roar. It wasn’t as loud as some of the early CVT vehicles we had driven but the higher transmission note remained obvious. When you compare that to kickdowns on the automatic transmission Myvi, the transmission roar was relatively higher.

We found that we could take the alternative option of engaging Sport mode to pick up the pace. Engine revs went up about almost 1k to take advantage of the higher power and torque output. And picking up the pace was reasonably good to overtake other vehicles quickly while keeping transmission roar to a lot lower level that was easier on the ears.

On the highway, the Myvi CVT would cruise easily at legal speeds at 2200-2400rpm (quite similar to the Perodua Alza we used to own). The CVT also responded quite quickly to accelerator pedal pressure (without engaging Sport mode), downshifting to a preset ‘gear’ with engine revs going up, if we wanted to pick up the pace. Its efficient operation is definitely an advantage here.

Our younger co-driver was a bit more robust taking the Myvi CVT up to 140km/h and beyond, with engine revs in the 3000rpm bracket and upwards. During the instant that we took the Myvi CVT up to 160kmh, it gained speed reasonably quick but it appeared to be more comfortable cruising at the 140km/h range.

It felt nicely planted to the road at that speed but you could feel it getting lighter as we went above that speed. It wasn’t the lightness that you would be uncomfortable with as the level of stability was still good. After all, the Myvi comes with a full package of dynamic safety items that includes Vehicle Safety Control and Traction Control. The Myvi AV also has six airbags.

However, at 140km/h, there would be more wind noise to accompany the road noise that is the general bane of most vehicles these days. This is despite the thick bushings fitted at the suspension links to absorb road noise and better body panel insulation to keep wind noise out.

If you are the law-abiding type who drive at legal speed limits, then you would have little to complain about. The low revving engine at 110km/h is hardly heard and wind noise is nicely subdued for a quiet drive to be enjoyed by all on board. Road noise is another thing though, as this would vary according to the different road materials used. Concrete surfaces make the most noise and thankfully, there aren’t many of that these days.

The Myvi has always retained its spacious interior since it was first introduced and one way that this is achieved is through the shorter seat squabs. Initially, we thought we would experience tired or fatigued thighs as a result of that on the highway drives but surprisingly, we didn’t suffer much. Instead, we found the back support of the seatrest a bit too hard.

What we weren’t too fond of was the EPS or electric power steering. In urban drives, the light work in manoeuvring the steering wheel is perfect. On the highway, it gets progressively heavier in feel for a more stable drive. We felt that the ‘weighted’ steering was a bit too artificially induced and wasn’t comfortable to use. The steering feel on highways for our previous Alza was just fine; not light and well weighted for the hydraulic system.

The Myvi AV has Lane Departure Prevention that would ‘pull’ you back should you stray from your lane. This was even more disconcerting with the heavy steering feel and we decided to turn it off. As we are also not too fond of cruise control systems, we didn’t use it but the Blind Spot Monitor, Cross Traffic Alert and Reverse Camera (which are all part of the PSDA) were useful items.

The lesser models don’t have these four items but have the other equipment in the PSDA such as the Advanced Safety Assist (Pre-Collision Warning and Braking, Pedal Misoperation Control and Front Departure Alert), Driving Assist (Lane Departure Warning and Prevention) and Parking Assist (Rear Corner Sensor).

The Myvi CVT is also said to be more economical on fuel mileage with a five per cent improvement or an additional kilometre with every litre of petrol. We reached Johor Baru on a full tank, taking into consideration a diversion into Batu Pahat for lunch. As we were provided with a Petronas RM100 refill card, we pushed our luck a little looking for the correct petrol station in Kulai to top up with some 40 kilometres to go on the remaining fuel in the tank (as stated on the vehicle instrument panel).

As we did quite a bit of running around in Johor Baru for our appointed lunch and dinner, we had to use the remaining money in the refill card for the drive back to Putrajaya. And despite some quick driving, we made the return journey without running out of fuel. With a lighter accelerator foot, RM100 is easily more than enough for the journey.

We didn’t have many winding road sections to get an idea of the Myvi’s dynamic performance other than the sweeping curves, which it took nicely with minimal body roll. With an independently sprung front with MacPherson struts and a torsion bar rear, our previous drive experiences with the Myvi had given us good confidence when taking it through our favourite winding road routes. Thus, the new Myvi should perform just as well in this respect with the CVT engaged in sport mode. We based this on positive drives with other CVT vehicles.

Ride is generally good as the Myvi handled bumps and rumble strips well by absorbing enough of the impact harshness for a comfortable feeling. The Myvi 1.5-litre models are shod with 185/55 R15 tyres. The built-in toll reader is useful although it is advised that you insert the toll card into the device before driving off instead of doing it on the move. However, with the impending switch to RFID (radio frequency identification) on the road toll system, this feature sadly would be outdated in time to come.

The Putrajaya-Johor Baru drive gave us a good impression of what the Myvi could achieve with the CVT. It should continue to endear itself with the demands of the general market as well as those who hanker for some exuberant driving.