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22 May 2012

Proton Prevé

I’ve had a go at the Proton Prevé, finally. After hearing so much about it from my colleagues (raves and rants, but more of the former) who attended the preview drive, and seeing the latest Proton in the metal at the launch, a drive event to Cherating in THE car of the moment was not to be missed!
The media drive was divided into two groups, and I drove the Prevé on the return leg from the East Coast to KL. Two variants out of three were brought to the event – the range-topping Preve 1.6 CFE (turbo engine and CVT gearbox) and the entry level 1.6 Manual, powered by the Campro IAFM+ engine.
Continue reading after the jump.

No need to go all technical – after months of teasing, a detailed launch report and drive impressions from two testers, I believe you already know what you need to know, technically.
To briefly recap, the C-segment Prevé is available in three variants – the 1.6 CVT Premium, the 1.6 Executive CVT and 1.6 Executive Manual. The Premium CVT is powered by a turbocharged CFE engine with 138 hp and 205 Nm, while the Executive models come with the naturally-aspirated CamPro IAFM+ engine with 107 hp and 150 Nm.
The turbocharged range-topper does 0-100 km/h in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 190 km/h. The cheapest manual variant manages 0-100 in 12 seconds and 180 km/h. The IAFM+ CVT combo is the slowest with 12.5 seconds and 170 km/h.
The most-booked variant so far is the Premium, by a huge margin. In contrast, the stick-shift Prevé is stuck in single digits, percentage wise.
We started the day driving the 1.6 Manual on twisty trunk roads, before upgrading to the Turbo CVT, a good sequence. The base stick-shift Prevé is slow as expected, with acceleration found wanting. This is evident when pulling off from low speeds and when momentum is broken.
Maintaining momentum is key in this variant, and the peaky engine needs to be worked hard in any case. More low to mid-end torque would definitely be welcome.
That said, bear in mind that media drives often involve all-out driving and fast convoys. We were also “chasing” the lead group in the Turbo (and even managed to hang on to some poorly driven examples), so the lack of grunt, especially at the low end, was amplified. The M/T Prevé is slow in context, but is usable in normal driving.
A car is so much more than “power” though, and the Prevé fares very well in other driving aspects. Especially nice is the balance between ride comfort and handling, as well as subjective things such as the feel of the controls.
What stands out the most for me is ride comfort and damping, which is unrivaled in the Asian C-segment sedan class. Many will say “Continental feel,” but I can think of some Euro hatches that could do with this level of composure. It makes bad roads feel good, the Prevé.
This unflappable feel extends to the road holding. Hit a dip or bump mid corner and you’ll know what we mean. The Proton sticks to its line, doesn’t gets thrown off course and the rear end doesn’t hop across horizontal obstacles.
This, combined with the natural feel of the steering and brake pedal, means that Prevé is a car that inspires confidence when driven fast – you always know what the car is doing, and can gauge how much it has in reserve. Not easy to measure, or explain for that matter, but I rather this than plenty of cold hard grip without the confidence.
Since this is a family car, the suspension is on the soft side of the scale, so there’s some roll in tighter bends, but nothing off-putting or too dramatic. The observations above were gleaned from fast country road driving – short customer test drives around the block will reveal a “comfortable” and “easy to drive” car, which is accurate.
What didn’t I like? The instrument panel. The fonts are too flat and stylised for me – difficult to read at a glance. If Proton was trying to achieve a “sporty” feel, they should note that Audi dials, and even those in the Lancer/Inspira, look good and are very legible. Jogging through the multi-info display, I noticed that the “TRIP A” font size is larger than the km reading, when it should be the other way round.
More on the interior. The Turbo comes with a head unit complete with sat-nav, and while this is a good addition, it’s could be better designed. It’s not efficient use of space when the border is so wide, and the screen so small. They could have easily put a bigger screen and just two vertical strips of buttons/dials, VW style, but I’m told that this is an off-the-shelf head unit, and not a clean sheet design.
I’m also not too keen on the gold-ish trim colour in the M/T, preferring the dark wood of the Turbo. No complaints on the ergonomics, though. Everything is on hand and the driving position is good.
Moving on, the 1.6 CVT Premium is a much faster car, obviously. But fast is not the first impression I get, and it’s most probably due to the stepless gearbox. I may not be a fan of CVT, but I recognise that this type of transmission – chosen here for both cost and fuel economy – can be painless and relaxing when done right. Nissan does CVTs well, and the Sylphy is a great example of how the ‘box can add to the driving experience.
Acceleration in the Turbo feels labourious. The key word here is “feels,” because a glance at the speedo needle shows that we’re making good progress. Initial lag, a low-rpm drone and a faint whine throughout means that the Punch CVT isn’t the most “regular automatic-like” CVT in the market. The manual mode feels artificial as well, and the steering paddles work with toy-like tactility.
The 1.6 CFE could be a great engine, but we’ll only get to know it better with a proper manual gearbox or a regular torque converter automatic. The latter is unlikely, because a five- or six-speed unit is costly, and Proton has already gone well down the CVT route.
I reached KL with mixed feelings. The Prevé is a good car to drive and live with (decent looks, lots of space, good NVH), and it has a great package of comfort, handling and feel. Many will be well served by Proton’s latest, I’m sure, but there’s not one variant that’s “just nice” for Mr. Picky here.
The CFE has the kit list, nicer cabin and pace, but its CVT isn’t on par with the best out there. The entry-level manual, on the other hand, has the correct gearbox (I own two manual cars) but lacks pace. I didn’t get to try the CVT/IAFM+ combo, but Anthony and Chris told me not to bother!

19 October 2011

Perodua expects to ink agreement with Proton on strategic collaboration by year-end or early 2012

According to Bernama, Perodua says it expects to ink a collaboration agreement with Proton later this year or by early 2012. The company says it has had meetings with Proton at the highest level, and a strategic collaboration for both parties is well on the cards.
“There are a few areas that we are trying to collaborate. They are still at discussion stage. I think we are happy with the items. We will make the announcement on a memorandum of understanding this year or next year,” Perodua MD Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh was quoted as saying.
Aminar added that there was no change in Perodua’s stance on the proposed merger with Proton. “We are against the merger. We have our own plans, going forward,” he said.
In other news, Perodua will be announcing details of its new electronic automatic transmission (EAT) plant in the near future. Aminar said that the company will reveal details on the equity structure of the plant as well as its exact location when the announcement is made.
“We are setting up a joint venture. It’s still in discussion. We’ll make announcement on the equity structure of both Perodua and our Japanese partner (Daihatsu), as well as the location of the plant in the next one or two months, whether it will be in Selangor or outside Selangor,” he told reporters today.
Perodua was also mulling whether the plant will be constructed at one go, or in phases, adding that at least RM200 million is to be invested on the factory, which will produce transmissions for both the domestic and export markets.
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Proton introduces ‘Power Window Lifetime Warranty'

Mention Proton, and more often than not the “power window issue” will crop up from both detractors and those who have experienced it themselves. Proton MD Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin admits that he has been obsessed with the power window issue since he came in five years ago.
The man points out that Proton has long turned the corner in this, and current gen cars are no longer bugged with power window problems. Generally, Defects Per Unit (DPU) has dropped to 0.26 in August 2011 from 8.0 in 2006/07.
But one can only do so much to convince 28 million people, as Syed Zainal said, so Proton has come up with the Power Window Promise to put this issue to rest. The main component in this promise is the Power Window Lifetime Warranty. A very unique warranty for a very unique situation in a very unique market!
Here are the terms. The Power Window Lifetime Warranty (PWLW) is applicable for all new Proton models registered from 1 September 2011 onwards. The warranty is for 10 years from the date of registration, or 250,000 km, which Proton takes as “the lifetime” of a vehicle. Also included in this scheme are current Proton cars that were still under manufacturer’s warranty as at 1 Sept 2011.
For instance, if a Proton Waja is two years and 10 months into its three-year factory warranty at 1 Sept 2011, it will be eligible for PWLW. The 10 years will be counted from the car’s date of registration, and if it has already done 100,000 km, the warranty will last for 150k km more, whichever comes first. But the said Waja won’t be eligible if it has been serviced outside of Proton’s service network at any time in its life.
The same goes for new cars. To be eligible for the warranty, cars must be serviced at an official Proton service centre throughout the duration. I also found out that from now, cars brought in to Proton SCs for regular service will also undergo some “power window servicing” which involves silicone spray to reduce friction, among other measures. Previously optional, there’s no extra charge for this, and is part of Proton’s efforts to improve itself.
Applicable to both private and fleet owners, PWLW covers four main components in the power window mechanism, namely the PW regulator, PW motor, PW switches and PW run channel. If your case complies with the T&Cs, Proton will absorb all labour and parts costs. There’s no limit on how many claims can be made per car.
Eligible cars that are in the “still under warranty” category explained above need to claim their Power Window System Warranty Registration certificate from any Proton service centre. Take note that prior appointment must be made. This process is not necessary for Proton cars registered from 1 September 2011, since the Power Window Promise is already included in your car’s service booklet.
“Correcting this perception is a challenging but necessary task, and PWLW is one of the initiatives that is being undertaken to put to rest this particular stigma. It saddens us that our customers purchase Proton cars whilst questioning the quality of our power windows, to the point that they refuse to use it for fear of damaging it,” said Syed Zainal, recalling a story we shared with you before.
“Our message is simple: Should you buy a Proton car today, please know that the power windows are working, they are working well and you have our Power Window Promise to back you up,” the boss confidently added.
Need to clarify some issues or need more info? Proton is waiting for you at 1300-880-888 or email them at
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16 September 2011

Perodua Myvi SE 1.5 and Extreme launched

After rounds and rounds of spyshots, this time, it’s the real thing. Moments ago, Perodua officially launched the much anticipated Myvi SE 1.5 which is a new Myvi with a 1.5-litre engine, the biggest capacity lump that has ever been put into the popular hatchback.
And if the new Myvi launched in June is called “Lagi Best” (34,000 people agree and have booked the car) the Myvi SE’s tagline is “Lagi Power, Lagi Best”, referring to the bigger 1.5L engine powering the car.
There’s also the Myvi Extreme 1.5, a name which we broke last week. The Extreme is essentially the same car as the SE, but with a more extreme bodykit and some added kit. It can be immediately recognised by the grey lower lip missing on the SE.
At the back, the Extreme gets a unique bumper, a more elaborate spoiler and chrome door handles. The new seven-spoke rim design and grille insert are shared by both.

Click to enlarge price list
Both the SE and Extreme are available with a four-speed auto gearbox or a five-speed manual. Prices range from RM50,900 for the SE manual to RM61,700 for the Extreme auto, figures that are lower than some have speculated. To recap, the Myvi 1.3 range starts from RM43,900 and tops out at RM57,400 for the 1.3 Elegance auto.
Let’s start with the heart of the matter. The SE and Extreme are powered by a 1.5-litre twin-cam engine with DVVT. This is the 3SZ-VE engine used in the Alza, and not the 1NZ-FE from the Toyota Vios. The chain driven (timing chain, not belt) engine puts out 102 hp at 6,000 rpm and 136 Nm of torque from 4,400 rpm, a 12 hp/19 Nm jump from the Myvi 1.3.
While this is lower than the Vios’ 108 hp/141 Nm, the Myvi 1.5 (at 970 to 995 kg) is lighter than that sedan, and Perodua’s power-to-weight ratio charts sees the SE beat the “Model SS” (Suzuki Swift), “Model V” (Vios) and “Model P” (Persona).

Rear bumper design is unique for each variant, Extreme gets a more elaborate spoiler
Lagi power eh? The Myvi 1.5′s acceleration is not to be scoffed at – the SE manual does the 0-100 km/h sprint in just 9.98 seconds, which is very swift. To compare, a BMW 320i Sport does the same sprint in 9.8 secs, so don’t play play! The Myvi SE auto is timed at 12.49 seconds. So 2.0L sedan owners, don’t be too surprised if that pesky yellow thing runs neck-to-neck with you in the traffic light GP!
As for fuel consumption, Perodua claims 15.9 km/l for the manual and 12.9 km/l for the auto. These figures are slightly down from the 1.3L, but are still better than competing national cars, says P2.

All black interior and steering buttons are standard, Extreme gets leather seats and tinting
Inside, the Myvi 1.5 gets an all black dashboard and interior, unlike the dual-tone scheme on the standard car. The steering wheel is now wrapped in leather, and there are audio controls on the left spoke, a first in Myvi history. The front seats are also unique – Perodua calls them “semi bucket seats”.
Start the car and you’ll also realise that the Camry style instruments – orange illumination in 1.3 Standard, turquoise in the Premium/Elegance – is now in red, with white for the needles and trip computer. The dial design is also slightly different and there are chrome rings thrown in. The plastic surround for the meter panel is now in sliver.

Myvi 1.5 instruments are in red and white, design is different, chrome ring added
The Myvi SE comes with the “flush type” audio system as seen in the Myvi 1.3 Premium. This one has Bluetooth, USB and the a sliver carbon fibre look, but the backlight is now red to match the instruments.
The full colour DVD touch screen system with navigation found in the Myvi 1.3 Elegance is an option for the SE automatic and standard on the Myvi Extreme.
The other additional kit that are exclusive to the Myvi Extreme include leather seat covers (with Extreme badge on the front seat backs), Extreme carpet mats (driver’s mat comes with locks to keep it in place), and window tint. These are in addition to the exterior differences mentioned and shown above.

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