When we tested the new Proton Preve we were impressed by its chassis dynamics, but felt it needed more engine. Our wish has been realised and the Preve is now available with the option of a turbocharged engine, resulting in a variant tagged as the Preve GXR.
While it still has a capacity of 1.6 litres the Campro engine now develops 103 kilowatts of power and 205 Nm of torque, well up on the 80 kW and 150 Nm of the non-turbo unit. This gives it a much livelier feel on the road and our initial test drives out of Sydney had us smiling on more than one occasion, particularly when the midsize Malaysian sedan found roads to really test its Lotus tuned suspension.
That’s right, Lotus tuned – because Proton owns the British maker of sports and racing cars these days. Lotus is best known within Proton for the work done on the suspension, but also advises on engine and transmission design.
Proton Suprima S is a five-door hatchback version of the Preve and all models in the Preve range use the turbo powerplant. Proton likes to regard the Suprima S as a model in its own right, but we aren’t sure it’s on the right track with that marketing strategy. Time will tell…
Interestingly, the Proton Suprima S hatch we tested immediately after the Preve GXR felt even better on the road than the sedan. The lighter weight and better balance achieved by not having a boot dangling out the back gives it a feel that’s almost sporty.
Handling is very good for a car in this price range, indeed many from the next price group upwards don’t take to the road as well as the Malaysian machine. Ride comfort is generally good, though some big bumps and dips do catch it out, perhaps the suspension travel is a little short for Australia’s rough and ready back roads.
At this stage only a CVT transmission is installed, it has seven pre-set ratios for those who feel the computer hasn’t selected the correct ‘gear’. A six-speed manual gearbox is expected early in 2014.
The interior of these Protons has good seating room for four adults, five with a bit of hip and shoulder rubbing. The normal load of two parents and three children will work very well.
The Suprima S has gained a 5-star ANCAP safety rating in crash testing. Standard active safety features include Electronic Stability Control with Brake Assist that incorporates Traction Control and ABS with EBD. There are front seatbelt pretensioners, active headrests and hazard lights that automatically turn on when sudden braking is detected from speeds above 90 km/h, and/or when the car is involved in a crash.
A five year warranty and five years free roadside assistance are standard, both with a distance limit of 150,000 kilometres. A big selling point of both the Proton Preve and Suprima S is free servicing for the first five years or 75,000 kilometres.
Suprima S GX 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $21,790 (CVT automatic)
Suprima S GXR 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $26,590 (CVT automatic)
Preve GX 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $15,990 (manual), $17,990 (CVT automatic)
Preve GXR 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $22,990 (CVT automatic)
Note: These are driveaway prices and include all government and dealer delivery charges.