The Kenari is available only with a 1.0-litre engine and this is a new unit – coded ‘EJ-DE’ – mounted transversely in the engine bay. The compact and light long-stroke engine has three cylinders with four valves per cylinder, one camshaft operating the inlet valves and another separate one operating the exhaust valves. Such specifications were once found only in high performance sportscars but are today commonplace in ordinary cars to get more power without having to resort to larger displacements. Fuel efficiency is also enhanced due to better combustion.
In case you wonder why there is a need for so many valves and two camshafts, the answer is to squeeze more power out of the 329 cc in each cylinder. Two valves per cylinder, even though the valves are smaller, allow for a combined valve port area that is actually larger than a single valve.
This means more of the air and fuel mixture can be introduced. The same applies to the exhaust valves: the increased exhaust port area allows faster flow of the exhaust gases. Incidentally, the intake ports are positioned
vertically and kept straight to allow the air-fuel mixture to flow smoothly.
Separate camshafts for the intake and exhaust valves enable the camshafts to spin at higher speeds and complemented by the lighter weight of the individual valves, the engine can rev more freely.
Electronic fuel-injection (EFI) is used and this makes for far more efficient fuel delivery than the carburettor while generating less ‘dirty’ exhaust fumes. With a computer managing the fuel supply, the needs of the engine for a given driving condition are more precisely met and maintained consistently. In fact, with EFI, maintenance is less demanding because there is no need to make adjustments as the air-fuel mixture will always be at optimum.
Power output of the engine is 40.5 kW (about 55 bhp) at 5200 rpm, with 88.3 Nm of torque at 3600 rpm. The dyno chart reveals that the power output curve is steep but the torque curve tends to fall sharply after its peak at 3600 rpm. The latter characteristic is not unusual for such a small engine and shows how a compromise has to be made with limited torque; in this case, the focus was on the low to medium speeds where most driving is done.
Because of the compactness of the Kenari, the catalytic converter is not installed towards the middle of the exhaust pipeline as in bigger cars. Instead, it is located next to the engine and occupies a space just behind the
radiator. The proximity of the exhaust-cleansing device to the exhaust ports is actually better because it will enable the catalytic converter to heat up faster (the catalyst works best when it is hot).
With EFI and a 3-way catalytic converter, the Kenari’s engine satisfies Euro-2 emission control standards and this is important for Perodua because it has to stop selling the Kancil in UK as that model’s engine cannot meet the new emission control standards that will be introduced in that country from this October. The Kenari will therefore take over from the Kancil for that market.
Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. The manual transmission is a 5-speeder with overdrive ratios in 4th and 5th gears and a final drive ratio of low 4.266:1, while the automatic has four forward speeds with an overdrive ratio in top gear. For enhanced acceleration at the low end, the final drive ratio fitted is 4.438:1.