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Road test: Proton Prevé proves a valuable point

The Proton Prevé GX.
The Proton Prevé GX.

VALUE is the holy grail for many.

And there has been no better time to get exactly that in the motoring world.

Compare what you get now for your money with two decades ago, and it's amazing how far we've come.

And Malaysian carmaker Proton is now pressing its claim. Or more to the point, "proving" itself - Prevé (sounds like café) means "to prove".

During August Proton slashed prices on its small sedan, back to 16 grand drive-away.

Nothing gets close to it in this genre in terms of size and coin.

Comfort

Step inside the Proton time machine. Interior design is like a combination of the up-spec Mitsubishi Magna and Toyota Corolla from the 1980s.

It's not horrible, just basic in comparison to what has become commonplace nowadays.

Inside the Proton Preve.
Inside the Proton Preve.

While the driver only has height adjustable steering, we never found the driving position to be an issue.

The pews are spongy which makes long highway journeys comfortable and the Prevé can also chauffer four adults. Despite fitting within the small segment, interior space is good front and back with generous knee and leg room.

On the road

Try and flex the Prevé's muscle and it's met with acceleration disappointment. But with sensible use of your right foot its does the job of respectable transporter.

It gets from A to B without fanfare with adequate performance for many drivers. Yet the 1.6-litre four-cylinder struggles under any rapid acceleration and up steep inclines.

Our test machine had the five-speed manual, and with timely shifts we were able to maintain momentum up some tough around-town climbs albeit in second.

For anyone living around hilly terrain the manual would be the best choice as the continuously variable automatic (a $2000 premium) would struggle to keep up with demand.

Lotus has aided with ride and handling, which delivers a nice ride and some pretty capable cornering, but the aging engine doesn't enable the driver to push too hard to find its limits.

What do you get?

An ace up the Prevé sleeve is five-star safety courtesy of six airbags, anti-lock brakes, reversing sensors and stability control.

Standard gear includes CD stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, alloy wheels and power windows.

Other options

For the price conscious there are the smaller hatchbacks Chery J3 1.6 ($12,990 drive-away) or the Suzuki Alto ($11,790), but others in the small sedan genre worth considering are the Holden Cruze Equipe ($19,490), Ford Focus Ambiente ($20,290), Mazda3 Neo ($20,330), Kia Cerato S ($19,990) and the Nissan Pulsar ($19,990).

Practicality

Pop the boot and there's a generous 508-litre space. Aided by an under-boot steel space saver spare, you can drop the seats in a 60-40 configuration to handle bulky loads or sports gear.

There are two cup holders in the console, a handy nook for phones, MP3 players and other gear in front of the shifter, along with pockets in each door.

Running costs

Proton has dangled plenty of carrots to sweeten the deal including a five-year warranty and roadside assist.

You also know what you're up for in terms of servicing...it's free for the first five years or 75,000km.

Insurance should be at the lower end of the scale.

Don't expect stellar resale after five years, the Prevé is really a car you'd buy for the long haul or just cut your losses mid-life.

Funky factor

With a wide stance, nice profile creases and 16-inch alloys, the sedan delivers on good looks. It has to be the best looking Proton on the market, and holds its own against the competition.

The lowdown

Proton has earmarked a broad target market for the Prevé, although primarily 40- to 54-year-old females and young families. Given the pricing and performance combination, the Malaysian carmaker has hit its market.

The Prevé is truly bargain basement transport. It's a car for those who have no need to attack bends, want to tear off from the lights or leap tall hills with one squirt of the right foot. Its performance lags in comparison to most others in what has become a sophisticated Australian market, but that doesn't matter to many drivers who are more focused on the bottom line.

What matters most

What we liked: Sharp pricing, roomy cabin, large boot.

What we'd like to see: Cruise control, more punch from the 1.6-litre engine, improved dynamics, backlit steering wheel buttons for use at night.

Warranty and servicing: Five year warranty and roadside assist. Servicing is also free for five years or 75,000km, with servicing intervals annually or every 15,000km.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Proton Prevé GX.

Details: Four-door front-wheel drive compact sedan.

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder generating maximum power of 80kW @ 5750rpm and peak torque of 150Nm @ 4200rpm.

Transmissions: Five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic with six ratios.

Consumption: 7.2 litres/100km (manual, combined average), 8.0L/100km (a).

CO2: 171g/km (m), 191g/km (a).

Bottom line: $15,990 drive-away (m), $17,990 (a).

The Proton Preve boot.
The Proton Preve boot.

Topics:  motoring road test



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