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CARS: CHEAP & CHEERFUL; Mini motor is a big hit.

Byline: BY TONY LARNER Motoring Writer

I THINK it was the rear spoiler which finally won me over.

Sat on the back window of the tiny Perodua Kelisa, it looked faintly ridiculous - but I liked it.

This is the cheapest car on the market at a rock-bottom price of just pounds 4,700.

And the minuscule mini-motor is selling well despite having about as much speed and acceleration as Wayne Rooney on crutches.

You won't top 90 mph and the 0 - 62 mph crawl would put a snail to shame at just over 17 seconds.

Yet looks wise, the Kelisa EZi that I had for the week certainly turned heads.

But I suspect that was because startled pedestrians couldn't work out how I'd managed to get my 6ft 2ins frame into such a tiny car.

With difficulty is the answer.

But once inside the top-of-the-range EZi, I was pleasantly surprised as there WAS enough room to swing a cat. A small cat. If you didn't swing it too much.

OK, this is a car that takes you back to basics, even if you pay extra for the pounds 6,000-plus EZi.

For your money you get a steering wheel, pedals, speedometer, CD/radio, comfortable seats, electric door mirrors, and er, not much more. But if your purpose for driving is getting from A to B as cheaply as possible then this could be the vehicle for you, as the one-litre petrol engine can offer you up to 60 miles to the gallon!

Driving the three speed automatic was a little like racing a go-kart and almost as much fun.

It had a light action clutch and gear change matched to an equally easy power-assisted steering system.

The car holds the road surprisingly well and handles turns and corners without much trouble. And once you get used to the fact that the Kelisa is never gonna pull trees, it's actually quite liberating to just tootle along city roads or motorways.

The Kelisa line-up includes three models based upon a single, compact five-door body shell.

The basic EX provides a high level of sophistication and equipment and includes all the safety features of the more expensive GXi and EZi. This includes driver and passenger airbags, side impact protection, seat belt pre-tensioners and rear door child safety locks.

The EZi also benefits from electrically operated rear view mirrors which are now colour-matched, as are the exterior door handles. Get-in!

Then of course, you have the spoiler. Ridiculous, useless and totally unnecessary - but it showed this likeable little car really doesn't take itself too seriously.

What you get with the Kelisa is what you see: a fun, cheap and enjoyable drive.

FAST FACTS

Perodua Kelisa EZi 1.0L

Price: Around pounds 6,399

Mechanical: 989cc engine, powered by three-speed automatic transmission

Max speed: 87 mph 0-60 mph: 17.2

Combined mpg: 43.5

Insurance group: 3A

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Warranty: 2 years, 24,000 miles, 1-year road-side assistance
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 7, 2006
Words:495
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