Complete Perodua Nippa lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1994 Perodua Nippa - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1994 - 2009 Perodua Nippa HatchbackNippa4 Trims 31 to 58 Hp

The Perodua Nippa is a five-door hatchback city car produced from 1997 to 2002. It is based on the Perodua Kancil, the brand's first vehicle that was sold from 1994 to 2009. The Nippa model was a rebadged variant sold to the UK, while the Kancil was the brands domestic Malaysian model.

Perodua Introduction and the First Model: Kancil and Nippa

After Perodua founded in 1992, it came to the market with the Kancil five-door hatchback city car. Rather than create a new vehicle from the ground up, Perodua leverage the Japan-based Daihatsu carmaker's expertise. The Kancil was based on the Daihatsu Ceria, which was then slightly modified for sale in Malaysia. This followed the footsteps of many Malaysian carmakers, starting back as far as the mid 1980s. And it proved to be a successful path for Perodua, who has since introduced many models with Daihatsu and Toyota underpinnings, but has more recently ventured into in-house designs and production. Around five years after its initial Malaysian sales, Perodua decided to embark on a new venture to export their vehicles to the United Kingdom. To do so, the Cancel was rebadged as the Perodua Nippa and offered for sale in September 1997. Price right around 5,000 Birtish pounds, the Nippa held the title as the lowest-priced new vehicle in the UK market, until Perodua undercut itself four years later with the Kelisa.

The Design and Shape of the Perodua Nippa

As one expects from an amazingly low-budget and compact offering, the exterior styling of the Nippa was rather uninspiring. Yet somehow, it managed to lean more toward the endearing side rather than offensive. The front end seemed oddly miniature in comparison to the rest of the tiny body. The front facia had two rectangular headlights with amber-colored turn signals in separate units mounted on the bumper. The grille featured two horizontal slits that almost have a mouth-like appearance. The hood gently angles upward, connecting with a sharp angle at the windshield. The passenger cabin, and the vehicle as a whole, is rather angular, featuring mostly flat body panels with rigid intersection points at a near 90-degree shape. The visibility and interior passenger and cargo space is maximized through this design, which is crucial due to the car's limited size featuring a 89.8-inch (2,280 mm) wheelbase and total maximum weight of just 1,520 pounds (690 kg). The rear end has an expansive red stripe, connecting the taillights on either side. The rear window seems to be larger than intended, offering excellent visibility. The bumper gently protrudes without being invasive. 

Engine, Performance, and Available Features

While the domestic Perodua Kancil was available with 659 cc inline-3 and 847 cc inline-3 available in both carbureted and fuel injected variants, the UK's Perodua Nippa came exclusively with the 847 cc SOHC inline-3 with fuel injection (ED-20). This produced just 49 horsepower and featured a three-speed automatic transmission. The other Kancil models went as low as 31 PS, and offered a five-speed manual transmission in addition to the three-speed auto. The midrange engine with the 847 cc carbonated version offered 37 PS and could have either transmission, like the smaller 659 cc engine. The interior features of the Nippa were nothing too special, but provided just enough storage and seating to handle the expected passenger load and cargo capabilities. In later years, the Nippa and Kancil received some updates to the exterior styling, including headlight modifications and body panels adjustments, plus additional exterior color choices and other relatively minor updates.

Looking Back on the Perodua Nippa and Kancil

As a popular choice for entry-level drivers and learning cars, the Perodua Nippa and Kancil filled a need. It was an extremely practical and pragmatic car, putting incredibly fuel efficient engines on a platform that was affordable and hit the mark for those who wanted something to get from point a to point b. By using the reliable Japanese technology, engine, and drivetrain, those who wanted to spend little money on the initial purchase, fuel costs, and repair bills now had an excellent choice. The Perodua name would continue forward, adding in many other models focused on economical offerings, and selling some of the most in-demand vehicles in Malaysia. In the UK, where the Nippa was sold, it was up against slightly more challenging models and competition, but still could undercut even the lowest priced models.