A compact family sedan from Malaysian manufacturer Proton, the Preve, comes downunder in two variants. The Preve GX five-speed manual and Preve GX six-speed continuously variable automatic. Incidentally, Proton would like us to pronounce Preve to rhyme with cafe so as to give the new car a European flavour.
Proton Preve offers excellent value for money as it has a drive-away price of $15,990 for the five-speed manual transmission and $17,990 for the six-speed continuously variable transmission. These prices are $3000 under the launch prices announced earlier this year. Proton tells us the prices will remain until the end of 2013.
Until then you can get a Proton Preve for price of a Toyota Yaris or Mazda2, whereas it’s pretty much line ball with the larger Corolla or Mazda3.
A sharply sculpted body with a wide stance and 10-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels looks good, though it doesn’t really stand out from the madding crowd in this extremely competitive market segment in Australia.
Upmarket features in his low-cost car include LED projector headlights and daytime running lights.
This is a good sized car and Preve has generous leg, head and shoulder room for four adult occupants. It can carry up to five if those in the rear aren’t over wide. Mum, dad and three pre-teens fit easily.
Seats are covered in plush cloth and all have height adjustable headrests, with active headrests in front for added safety.
The top of the dash panel is made of a soft touch non-reflective material. The tilt adjustable, multi-function steering wheel carries controls for the audio and Bluetooth systems as well as mobile phone.
The comprehensive instrument panel has both analogue and digital instrumentation. The onboard computer indicates distance travelled between two points for up to three trips and journey time. There’s information on approximate distance to empty, instantaneous fuel consumption, total fuel used and distance travelled since the last reset.
In keeping with its sporty aspirations for the new car the Preve instrument panel is illuminated in red.
The audio system, with AM/FM radio, CD/MP3 player, USB and auxiliary ports, is located in the centre panel, which at its base includes the iPOD and Bluetooth ports, and a 12-volt socket hidden under a sliding cover.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSIONS
Proton’s own design Campro engine is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre until, producing 80 kW at 5750 rpm and 150 Nm at 4000 rpm.
A comprehensive safety package includes six airbags including full-length curtain units. Crash prevention features include Electronic Stability control, Traction control, ABS brakes, active front head rests, reversing sensors and speed-sensitive, door locking and unlocking.
Proton Preve has achieved a five-star rating in crash testing.
The ride and handling of the Preve are what you would expect from a vehicle with some Lotus input – better than average for its class. (Proton once owned the British racing car maker.) But the Preve leans in the direction of safety and comfort and is far from being a sporting model.
The engine is on the dead side, which hardly comes as a surprise for its modest maximum output of 80 kilowatts, and has to be kept on song by good use of the transmission to get reasonable performance.
Sparse cabin insulation lets in a harsh engine note, a necessary evil with high revving required to get the best out of an engine that doesn’t have a lot of power.
The manual version we tested for the full week had petrol consumption that sat around five to seven litres per hundred kilometres on the motorway and in easy country driving. That consumption rose to nine to eleven litres in town due to the fact that the engine was working hard.
You get a lot of car for a very modest price from Proton’s Preve as it competes with cars the next size up, including heavyweights like Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. It doesn’t have the style, engine performance or handling dynamics of these cars – but keep that ultra-low price in mind. Also keep in mind that the bargain price only applies till the end of 2013.
AT A GLANCE
GX 1.6-litre four-door sedan: $15,990 (manual), $17,990 (CVT automatic)
Note: These are limited time driveaway prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard
Automatic Transmission: $2000 option
Cruise Control: Not offered
Dual Front Airbags: Standard
Front Side Airbags: Standard
Electronic Stability Program: Standard
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard
Reversing Camera: Standard in both models
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: Standard
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard
SPECIFICATIONS (Proton Preve GX 1.6-litre four-door sedan)
Capacity: 1.597 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 76.0 x 88.0 mm
Maximum Power: 80 kW @ 5750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 150 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Five-speed
Automatic Transmission: CVT
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4543 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Width: 1786 mm
Height: 1524 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1305 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Towing Ability: Not supplied
Boot Capacity: 508 litres
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: McPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Multilink, anti-roll bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc
Type: Petrol 95RON
Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 6.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5/10