So Perodua invited a few of us over to their headquarters today to test drive the all-new Perodua Ativa – a name if we can now confident use for Perodua’s first ever turbocharged vehicle with a CVT gearbox.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to film nor shoot any of the test activities from today so you’ll just have to make do with words.

While 98 hp and 140 Nm from a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine paired to a CVT may not sound like much in the context of an SUV, all prior concerns about it being underpowered were completely forgotten the moment we tapped on the throttle.

Two words came to mind – responsive and eager. Firstly we brought to test the Ativa on a slope, to see how it would cope on an uphill climb.

Granted there were only two passengers in the car (myself and the instructor) but even when we lifted off the throttle midway through the slope, the Ativa had no problems getting the momentum going again.

On the long straights, the Ativa yet again proved that it’s more powerful than what is suggested on the spec sheet – speaking strictly in the context of a turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, of course.

Between the 70 km/h to 80 km/h, acceleration was eager and almost effortless all the way up to 130 km/h. At least that’s what we clocked; other media representatives claimed that the Ativa still had more to give beyond that speed.

When we tried to manually up and downshift through the CVT gearbox’s seven virtual gears, like the engine, the CVT gearbox was also quick to respond. Positioned on the steering is a POWER button that sharpens the engine’s response even more.

At speeds in excess of 100 km/h, the environment in the cabin was calm with minimal wind noise and even when we tested the Ativa on a stretch of uneven tarmac and a series of speed bumps, the Ativa absorbed all the shocks with the refinement of a car twice its price.

We suspect that this is due to the Ativa’s stiffer, more rigid chassis which allows the car’s suspension to be more comfort-oriented.

Given the surprise performance package from such an assuming exterior, and coupled with superb stability unmatched by any Perodua before this, it’s hard to ignore that this could be Perodua’s new King of the Road.

Can the Ativa do for Perodua what they Myvi achieved in the last decade? Only time will tell but we suspect that it will attract more suitors than haters solely from the way it drives and handles.

Unfortunately, that’s all the feedback we can share for now although there’ll be more coming your way from 3rd of March onwards. Stay tuned!