The Perodua Kelisa is a five-door hatchback city car produced from 2001 to 2007.
Perodua Background and Kelisa Introduction
When Perodua came onto the scene in the early 1990s, it released the Kancil to the Malaysian market and started a long history of bringing Daihatsu technology to the country, on vehicles it tweaked for the home market. As the Kancil's production came to an end, the Kelisa was developed to replace it. Perodua also sold models in the United Kingdom, including both the Nippa, a rebadged version of the Kancil, and the new Kelisa. The Perodua Kelisa was a rebadged and slightly modified version of the Daihatsu Mira (L700). Both models are small city cars in the five-door hatchback body style, fusing the incredible fuel efficient platforms with a pragmatic passenger cabin to create a vehicle that handles daily needs without breaking the bank. The Kelisa name comes from the arowana fish native to Malaysia. The exterior styling of the Perodua Kelisa was focused more on the practical side rather than design appeal. It used some rounded body panels, but was mostly a basic hatchback shape featuring a rather large rear seat and cargo area. The front facia featured a basic bumper tucked under a central grille surrounded by round headlights. The flat topped hood stretched back to meet the windshield at a relatively sharp angle. The rear end featured a similar layout, with long vertical taillights and an expansive rear window. The visibility was excellent as the A and B-pillars are quite minimal, and the C-pillars were tucked deep into the corners, providing maximum interior cargo space.
Available Engines and Trim Levels
There were two engines available, including an 847 cc ED-DE DOHC inline-3 and a 989 cc EJ-DE DOHC inline-3, both sourced from Daihatsu. While neither model was praised for its power production, they both did an excellent job providing maximum fuel efficiency while still being able to put around town. For the value-focused customer, the Kelisa did a great job at providing a capable platform with a tiny, efficient engine to help achieve maximum economy. There were three variants available at the Kelisa's launch, including the EX, GX, and EZ. There were four exterior color options and the trim level often dictated what engine was featured, along with the use of a manual or automatic transmission. In 2003, the Kelisa received a minor update with a slight exterior redesign with a honeycomb grille and new rear wiper, plus the introduction of a special limited-edition model that featured two-tone paint, rear spoiler, and new lower skirts all around. Select interior enhancements were also added, such as a fixed headrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel. In 2004, the trim levels were updated to the 850 EX, 1000 GX, and 1000 EX, better describing the model distinctions as they relate to the engine size. The Perodua Kelisa Imago was introduced in 2006, adding in slightly more luxurious interior touches with leather seats, clear turn signal coverings, chrome door handles, and a new Metallic Pearl Jade exterior paint color. A 2007 update added Bluetooth technology to select models.
Looking Back on the Perodua Kelisa
Overall, the Perodua Kelisa did an excellent job at hitting its target audience. By focusing on efficient designs with sufficient passenger capacity and cargo room, the needs of its customers were met. Perhaps most importantly, it achieved an incredible value and allowed more people to purchase a relatively reliable vehicle that handles daily driving needs with ease. Reports from experts were mixed, with some loving the somewhat sporty ride feeling and others noting the usual compact city car limitations and dull experience. But others enjoyed it for its nimble platform, responsive handling, and ease of repair, low cost of ownership, and overall longevity. Even if it's not the most exciting car in the world, it served a valid purpose that Perodua was focused on providing and is another clear showing of the brands ability to meet the segment demands.