Today’s official announcement of the 2023 Perodua Axia raised a question or two among some industry watchers and perhaps a petrolhead or two. I say some, because the majority of Malaysians will be well served by the four variants on offer, and won’t be missing a cheap but kosong Axia E with a manual transmission.
Unless you’re a driving school operator. If you are, don’t worry, because the “driving school spec” Axia with a stick shift is not dead, even if it will not be present at the D74A’s launch next month. At today’s 2023 outlook event, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Ahmad vowed to continue to produce a manual transmission Axia.
“Rest assured, we will still produce manual cars for driving schools, don’t worry,” he said, adding that the Axia MT is supposed to surface after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which falls in April. “In fact, I think the driving schools will like it – same car, good spec, maybe cheaper. Perodua will continue to make the manual Axia,” he added.
Cheaper? It’s not easy to make a new model cheaper, especially when it it sits on a new, safer and more sophisticated platform (DNGA). Could this upcoming Axia MT be a variation of the outgoing Axia instead of the D74A with a stick shift? Zainal’s subsequent comments might contain further hints.
“Just now I mentioned six or seven models, we now have six models (Axia, Bezza, Myvi, Ativa, Alza, Aruz), Axia MT is the last model. The Axia MT that we’re continuing, we’re supposed to launch it after Hari Raya. There’s some modification,” he said.
It’s not very likely that a variant with a different transmission is categorised as a separate model, which might point to the base MT car being a carryover, albeit modified. We could be reading too much into the P2 chief’s words, but Perodua has done it before.
Back when the Viva – a Kancil-replacement model – was introduced, the bug-eyed final version of the Kancil continued to be sold alongside the Viva as a cheaper model to serve basic motoring needs. Will the upcoming Axia MT play the same role today with a sub RM25k RRP (the 2019 Axia E’s launch price was RM24,090)? Perodua says that there is demand for the bare-bones Axia MT beyond driving school use, although not as much as the better-appointed variants. We’ll see. For now, full details on the all-new Axia here.