Perodua Ativa SUV: 1KR-VET 1.0L 3cyl turbo deep dive

Perodua’s long-awaited compact SUV, the Ativa, is the talk of the town. Based on the attractive Daihatsu Rocky/Toyota Raize and utilising more of its Japanese partner’s technology than ever before, the D55L promises to be the most advanced Perodua ever – marking a new era for the national carmaker.

So far, we’ve looked at the specs, name and pricing; here, we’re taking a deep dive into the Ativa’s new engine, the 1KR-VET. Utilising just three cylinders and 1.0 litres in displacement, it will mark Perodua’s first foray into the world of turbocharging, making it bang up to date with the industry trend of downsizing.

As the name suggests, the 1KR-VET is part of Toyota’s KR engine family, which also includes the 1KR-VE naturally-aspirated mill found in the Bezza and Axia. The lineup shares the same aluminium block, cylinder count and 71 mm cylinder bore, but the unit in the Ativa will have a scant 0.1 mm shorter piston stroke than the rest at 83.9 mm. This knocks two cubic centimetres off the displacement, dropping it down to 996 cc.

The engine’s stroke has likely been shortened to reduce the compression ratio, which has fallen from 11.5:1 on the Bezza and Axia to 9.5:1. This facilitates the addition of the already-compressed air from the turbo, which would otherwise cause knocking.

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As is typical for a simple turbo engine, the Ativa will feature a single-scroll turbocharger and a front-mounted intercooler. To keep costs down, it will get regular multi-point injection rather than the more expensive direct injection technology; it will also retain the Bezza/Axia’s variable intake valve timing, double overhead cams, timing chain and four valves per cylinder (12 in total).

Naturally, with a turbo in place, the 1KR-VET is significantly more muscular than the 1KR-VE, with outputs of 98 PS at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque from 2,400 to 4,000 rpm. Against the Bezza and Axia, the Ativa will have an advantage of 30 PS and nearly 50 Nm, which is not to be sniffed at. Those figures are also not a world away from the Nissan Almera, which has a similar 1.0 litre turbo triple and CVT configuration.

To enhance the sensation of speed, the Rocky and Raize get a Power button on the steering wheel, which remaps the engine and gearbox for quicker throttle response; it’s unclear, however, if the Perodua version will come with the same function.

But the turbo isn’t just good for power – Perodua is claiming an impressive fuel consumption figure 18.9 km per litre for the Ativa. That’s even better than the Daihatsu and Toyota’s 18.6 km per litre with front-wheel drive, although that number was achieved on the stricter WLTP cycle.

The downsized engine and stepless transmission go some way towards improving efficiency, but the Rocky and Raize also benefit from a start-stop system. The Bezza and Myvi already come with this feature, but the one in the Daihatsu and Toyota has been improved slightly, switching the engine off when decelerating from 9 km/h (up from 7 km/h).

Looking at the technologies, output figures and efficiency numbers on offer, we’re pretty sure most of you can’t wait to try out the Ativa for yourselves (and we can’t, either!). But what do you think – is turbocharging the right path for Perodua, or would you have preferred it to stick with a more conventional naturally-aspirated engine? Sound off in the comments after the jump.

GALLERY: Daihatsu Rocky in Japan
GALLERY: Toyota Raize in Japan

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