Perodua Ativa D55L SUV – DNGA platform explained –

The biggest, or perhaps the most important car launch of 2021 happens to be yet another SUV, and this time it’s from the Perodua camp. That’s right, the D55L SUV, believed to be called the Ativa, will be launched in just a matter of weeks, and it’s the automaker’s first model to be based on the DNGA platform.

What is DNGA, you ask? It’s short for Daihatsu New Global Architecture, much like parent company Toyota’s own TNGA. It’s a brand new platform that entered the Japanese market as recently as 2019, and this is significant to us as it means that Perodua is getting the very latest platform, engine and transmission from Daihatsu. For your reference, the current Myvi runs a modified version of the second-gen Myvi’s platform, which had its roots from the 2010 Daihatsu Boon/Toyota Passo.

The fact that the Rocky and the Toyota Raize is sold in Japan is also worth noting, as we are now getting a bonafide JDM twin in the Ativa. The Aruz, though a shared product, is a model designed specifically for emerging markets only, i.e. Indonesia and Malaysia. You won’t find the latest Daihatsu Terios or the Toyota Rush in Japan, that’s for sure. DNGA is also a unibody/monocoque base, which is a lot more sophisticated than the Aruz’s more utilitarian rear-wheel drive ladder frame architecture.

Modular and CASE-ready (connected, autonomous, shared, electric)

Like most modern platforms, DNGA was designed to meet a number of criteria, which includes connectivity and autonomous driving technologies, as well as future electrification plans. Modifying existing Daihatsu platforms to be CASE-ready would be too costly and time consuming, so a brand new solution was deemed necessary “to swiftly launch products in emerging markets, where competition is expected to become increasingly fierce,” according to the Japanese carmaker.

DNGA is a modular platform that will be used to underpin Daihatsu’s entire range of cars, specifically JDM kei cars, as well as A- and B-segment models (designated DNGA-A, DNGA-B) for domestic and international markets. Having mastered the “smallest details” of small car manufacturing, Daihatsu came up with a redesigned concept to have as many shared parts as possible between new models, which will lead both to high quality at affordable prices and greater development efficiency.

Faster, cheaper development of new models

Key components such as suspension, underbody, engine, transmission and seats were all redeveloped from scratch and updated at the same time. Daihatsu says the modularity of DNGA allows parts sharing between models to exceed 75%, shortening the development time of new models by 50%. The capital investments of developing and launching a new product is also reduced by 30%.

This significantly reduces operational costs over time, and whatever savings made can be used to add more features to the cars, benefitting customers. Shorter development times also mean the brand can offer fresher, more up to date products, reacting quicker to any changes in market trends. Now equipped with the new platform, Daihatsu intends to release 15 body types and 21 models by the end of 2025, with a targeted annual production volume of 2.5 million vehicles by then. That’s a massive target to say the least.

Goal: class-beating stability and comfort

Daihatsu’s development of the new platform started with the suspension, with an updated geometry that prioritises stability and comfort, optimising vehicle behaviour and responses on various road surfaces. The total number of moving parts have also been reduced, which results in a lighter chassis.

The Rocky and Raize use a brand new MacPherson setup up front and a torsion beam for the rear. These were developed from scratch with optimised mounting points and reduced weight, yet at the same time offer a stable ride with minimal body roll, Daihatsu says. Vibrations experienced on undulating surfaces are also neutralised more quickly with this setup. The platform’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels will be up to class standards for the next 10 years, Daihatsu claims.

Lighter but safer – increased chassis rigidity, ultra high-tensile steel mix

A major change for Daihatsu chassis design is the linking of force-application points at the front and rear of the vehicle, smoothening the transmission of force through the frame. This improves the underbody’s collision safety performance and strength, and more significantly allows the chassis to be both more rigid and lighter than before. Using the Tanto kei-car as an example, the latest DNGA model is 30% more rigid and 80 kg lighter than its direct predecessor.

The DNGA upper body also utilises thicker, high-tensile-strength steel plates (10% more than before), further aiding rigidity and safety. Meanwhile, the crumple zones have also been redesigned to increase the efficacy of the absorption and dissipation of kinetic energy during a collision.

The Rocky scored the full five star Japan New Car Assessment Programme (JNCAP) crash safety rating in 2019, being only the second Daihatsu model to do so. You can watch the JNCAP crash safety test videos below. We’re expecting the Perodua Ativa, with all its passive and active safety features, to bag the full five-star ASEAN NCAP crash safety rating as well.

As a recap, the Ativa will get six airbags, electronic stability control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard. The range-topping Ativa AV will add on Lane Keep Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control to the mix.

Designed together with newly-developed engine and transmission

DNGA was developed together with new engines and transmissions, as to achieve significant improvements in all aspects. In the case of the Rocky, it gets the 1KR-VET 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a D-CVT drivetrain. We’ve already covered the engine in a deep dive story, and we’ll do the same for the transmission soon.

Suffice to say, DNGA, together with the entire package, is a pretty substantial generational leap forward from Perodua’s existing platforms and vehicles, and clearly a step in the right direction.

More DNGA models to come from Perodua?

Theoretically, all DNGA-based models, regardless of body type or size, can be built along the same production line. It’s the backbone of modular engineering anyway. By that logic, the Ativa SUV will be the first of many DNGA-based Perodua models to come. In 2020, P2 invested the better part of RM500 million on the modernisation and expansion of its plant in preparation of the Ativa, so you best bet there’s more DNGA-based models to come with that kind of investment.

Next in line should be the next-generation D27A Alza, perhaps with Perodua’s hybrid technology already previewed at KLIMS 2018. So there you have it, the bigger picture that is the Daihatsu New Global Architecture. Like we said, the Ativa is only just the beginning.

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