The new Prevé has been the talk of most Malaysians these days. You’d think that with Proton being around for almost 30 years, there isn’t much you’ve not seen but the Prevé (pronounced as Prae-Vae) really do represent a few milestones for the national car maker:-

1) First true global car meant to compete in markets where Proton does not enjoy as much protection as it does here in Malaysia
2) First car to be launched after DRB Hicom’s acquisition of Proton
3) First Proton sedan with a stock turbocharged engine
4) Proton is betting its credentials on producing an international standard (global) car

Let’s face it (and this has nothing to do with being unpatriotic), Proton’s market share has been eroding for the past few years. In a report published by The Star business papers, Proton had a market share of 47.6% in 2001. 10 years later, that piece of the pie has shrunk to 26.4%. If Proton does not innovate, things does not look too rosy for the coming years.

Which brings us back to the Prevé. Despite it being only launched today 16 April 2012, there’s been numerous pictures online showing various aspects of the cars and many Malaysians feel this car heralds a change in Proton’s fortune.

Design

Looks are very subjective. Some finds the Prevé’s clean lines to be elegant and evergreen whereas some feels the design to be too conservative and dated. Each to his own, The Prevé does feature a few design cues that sets the pace for future models (or rather, it should set the pace. If it doesn’t, it won’t be the first time we see our national car maker’s policy being inconsistent).

1) New corporate grill design with the Proton logo-on-wings
2) Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
3) Inclusion of rear fog lights

Performance
The +IAFM’s power rating is 80kW @ 5,750rpm with max torque of 150Nm @ 4,000rpm whereas the CFE’s output is 103kW @ 5,000rpm with max torque of 205Nm @ torque range of 2,000 – 4,000rpm.

What  I can expect if both cars are tested back to back is the +IAFM will feel severely underpowered. With a 20% and 36% difference in max power output and torque respectively compared against the CFE, testers will find this variant to be very sluggish. Compared against the Peugeot 207 which also runs on a 1.6litre NA engine has a similar power output of 110bhp and max torque of 147Nm BUT with only a kerb weight of 1,144kg, the Prevé’s kerb weight 1,305kg and (worse) 1,325kg for the CVT may prove to be inadequate for some drivers. I know I won’t enjoy it …. I already have the impression that the Inspira 1.8CVT feels like a mule on wheels; considering the Inspira has a power output of 140hp with a kerb weight of 1,325kg, just thinking about the IAFM+’s 108bhp pulling the same weight as the Inspira and mated with a CVT turns me off. The business of making cars is still a business: Cost cutting measures of Proton to simplify inventory and attempt at greater economies of scale by sharing the same engine as the Saga FLX.

The CFE on the other hand should prove to be entertaining. Simply put: there is NO other car that has a max torque output more than 200Nm with a price scale that’s lower than RM80k.

I went for a test drive at the Subang SS14 Sin Siang Hin branch after lunch today. The engine Push Start is fairly simple to operate. Insert key into slot, press the brake before pressing the button. I then noticed the side mirror was folded and was trying to find a way to unfold it when the SA told me to just drive. Once the car was moving, the mirrors unfurled itself. Cool. The mirrors auto fold when you lock it with your remote, giving it a more up class feel.

As the roads were rather narrow, I couldn’t move too fast and had time to fiddle with the Multi Info Display which can be access via the wiper steering stalk tip on the right (yes, signal/wiper location follows continental cars, not Japanese). The digital display was clear and crisp (although you have to note that if you switch on the auxiliary lights to turn on the DRLs, it dims to an intensity you can set). Once I got to the main road, traffic was clear and I was able to floor it. With the gear at “D”, I was surprised to note that below 2,000rpm, the car feels sluggish. Even at the max torque zone of 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, the acceleration is not as great as I expected. I attribute this to the weight of the car which feels cumbersome. It’s definitely solidly built and turns well at corners but there’s no hiding it’s 1.3 tonne.

Things get livelier when the gear is pushed to “S”. Pick-up is a lot faster, making full use of the turbo. I could easily hit 120kph within the first 300meters of the straight road and it’s certainly a lot more fun. At this speed, cabin noise is still comfortably low but if you keep flooring it, the engine noise and CVT whine becomes more obvious. Being a CVT, gear shifts are seamless and not felt and for those who’re used to manual or a conventional torque converter, you will not feel as much kick with the CVT. Paddle shifters may entertain those drivers a little more and they deactivate if there is no further input from the driver.

Braking is excellent, biting power is firm and linear. Stops are managed with ease and drama free. I think if one were to change to higher performance tires and lighter rims, the acceleration would be much better.

Handling and Ride
The media reports that the hallmark improved handling due to Lotus influence is there (even if the “Tuned by Lotus” is no longer used on any Proton cars nowadays). With Hot Press Forming (HPF) tensile parts, the Prevé has one of the stiffest chassis among vehicles on the road today (19,000 Nm/degree to be exact). So it should corner pretty well …. sigh, if only they had a manual variant. I managed to have 4 runs on a 1km+ straight road and at corners, it handles well with barely any tire screech. Unfortunately as it was a residential area, not much B roads to play around with but even then, I can feel the car is very stable, not much body roll …. which means suspension set-up is slightly stiff but not bone jarringly so. Comfortable enough for the rear passengers, I think.

The hydraulic steering gives a good weighted feel and communicates well enough to me. It’s not BMW-like accurate but I certainly feel more confident moving at high speeds on this car vs Vios/City.

And I noticed one thing in the engine bay:

A stock strut bar! As if things aren’t stiff enough with the car. I wonder if we can retrofit a manual gearbox and remove the CVT …. wishful thinking. Curiously for a full production car, what’s with all the cable tights?

Even the rear hinge have lock-tights. Proton should have designed a small plastic casing to cover this …. what buyers see and touch is important and the devil is in the details.

For once, no Goodyear NCT 5 tires! The CFE comes with GT Radials … not sure about the IAFM+ though as there was no unit on display



Cabin comfort & convenience
The Prevé features a digital display on the dashboard that tells you the following:-

– Trip meter
– Average Fuel Consumption
– Journey Time
– Instantaneous Fuel Consumption
– Distance to Empty
– Average Speed
– Outside temperature
– Dimming setting
– Intrusion warning
– Temperature warning
– Bulb failure
– Seatbelt reminder
– Door/hood/trunk ajar
– Follow home lamp
– Vehicle battery status
– Keyfob battery status
– Light left on
– Key left in
– Gear indicator
– Gear shift lock

So aside from telling you if you forgot to switch off the gas back home while boiling soup, the display tells you everything you need to know to get going with peace of mind.

Paddle shifters felt a little plasticky but the pedal springing action felt good.

Boot size is huge … comparable to Inspira, if not better since it has space saver tires instead of full sized ones that eats into the Inspira’s space:

Similarly, rear legroom is also not bad …. I adjusted my 5’10” height driving position and still had about 2″ of legroom at the back. It’s not as large as a VW Jetta but it is significantly better than a MyVi or Saga. Rear passengers also benefit from a charging port located in the center so your iPod/iPhone will never run out of power.

Media testers who went for the preview sampling of the Prevé have remarked noticeable improvement of Noise, Vibration and Harshness within the cabin. Space is more than adequate for it’s 2,650mm wheelbase. Can’t help but feel if Proton were to include rear aircon vents, it would make this car truly feel up market.

The recline angle of the rear seats is definitely better than a Saga and the cushion material used in the Prevé contours to passengers well. Head room is good for my height … I still had about 1″ of space above me and my height is considered above average for a Malaysian.

A few things about the DRLs:

It does not come on automatically when you turn (or in this case, press) the ignition. It occupies the function of the car’s small/auxiliary light so you need to manually switch it on. Secondly, if you scrutinize closely, you’ll note the LEDs used are not those full fledged ones found in VW. Well, you pay for what you get so don’t expect too much. Also, notice the LEDs are angled upwards towards reflectors? While this may help to widen the light beam, I wonder how bright it is compared to it facing the front.

The center display looks a little small … kinda reminds me of a Galaxy Note but I am surprised at Proton’s use of semi-soft touch plastics (it’s slightly harder than those soft plastics found in a Hyundai Sonata) on the dashboard and top panel of the doors. Also can be seen is the front and rear fog light switches located next to the hazard signal button

Fit and finish looked great … hardly any noticeable gaps. There is some chatter in certain public forums about visible welding spots on the door frame. I managed to take a few pictures of it:

Is there really cause to complain? You be the judge but to me, it looks pretty bad. It’s on all 4 doors. I don’t understand why they can’t make a conventional door like the Saga below:

I don’t think it would pose a safety issue but aesthetics is certainly compromised here.

That slot on the left of the Push Start button is where you slot in your key, kinda like a VW Passat. So there’s nothing wrong with the car if you keep pressing the Start/Stop button while the key is still in your pocket; user error. There’s a nice convenient compartment below the Push Start button for your Touch&Go;, SmartTag and whatever essentials such as house keys.

I love the key design. Feels very classy and has a good weight feel

The ever-so-useful teh tarik hook …. something you will only find in an Asian car. Truly designed by Asians for Asians.

Specifications
You’d probably be seeing various sources of info on the spec sheet of the Prevé so allow me to present it to you a little differently so that you can clearly see what exactly you’re paying for

Campro IAFM+ Executive 5 speed Manual & CVT
ABS with EBD
Dual airbag with seat belt pre-tensioner
Front active headrest
Anti-trap power window (driver side only)
Front and rear fog lights
Immobilizer

Campro CFE Premium
in addition to the IAFM+ spec
Brake Assist (BA) and Traction Control
Electronic Stability Control (ESP)
Side airbags (total 4 airbags)
ISOFIX
Auto headlamp
Auto wiper
Leather wrapped steering
Electric side mirror with auto fold (IAFM+ is manual)
Built-in GPS (IAFM+ is portable)
Paddle shifters
Auto climate air conditioning
Rear spoiler
Engine Push Start button
Auto cruise
in-car WiFi powered by YES

I kinda like the red. Not sure why they had to choose a cool blue color to be the showroom unit for this particular branch.

In case you didn’t notice from the above, the Prevé also comes with rear fog lights! This is, IMHO a very important safety feature, especially during rainy days when visibility is low and everyone else (illegally) turning on their hazard lights. Understandably, with DRLs and rear fog lights becoming mandatory in certain developed countries and the Prevé being forwarded as Proton’s contender in the world, it must come equipped with it. All the better for us here.

The rear fog light is on both tail lights and is pretty bright. Definite thumbs up from me!

Spec comparison against other C segment contenders:

Latest news: The car now comes with 5 years warranty or 150,000km (whichever comes first)! A very good move by Proton in restoring faith to the brand.

Finances

The Prevé can be yours for RM72,990 (Premium CFE variant), RM62,990 (IAFM+ CVT Executive) and RM59,990 (IAFM+ Manual Executive). Deduct RM450 for each variant if you prefer solid colors instead of metallic.

Let’s look at the Auto variants since the CFE currently accounts to more than 75% of bookings. With a price difference of RM10,000, is it really worth it’s asking price?

Aside from the 14 additional features found in the car as listed above, you get the CFE turbocharged engine. No doubt, on the reliability aspect, we need a few years of actual ownership before seeing how durable it is but seeing how much Proton has committed itself into this launch, I am confident it should check out fine. For the sake of the company, both foreign and domestic, they can’t afford another screw-up.

Anyway, coming to affordability, if we were to assume owners take the maximum 90% loan and the interest rate is at 3% (no idea what’s the exact rate so I’m just pulling some figures from the air. Those taking 7 years repayment have been offered about 2.8% – 2.9% interest rate whereas those 9 years will get probably around 3%. Not bad) the monthly repayment breakdown will be as follows:-

The monthly repayments for 7-9 years loan tenures is significantly less compared to 5 years which is what I believe to be the most popular repayment option. Let’s say you do have a budget that’s between RM 70k to RM80k, what other options do you have? Surprisingly, not much unless you count pick-up trucks as some of those choices.

1) Toyota Vios Spec j (RM71,990)
2) Peugeot 207 (RM72,888)
3) Mazda 2 1.5litre Sedan (RM75,122)
4) Kia Forte 1.6 EX (RM78,800)
5) Hyundai Accent 1.6 (RM73,214)

The Honda City starts at the price of RM82k so that pretty much rules it out. Other hatchbacks such as Myvi, Swift and Getz are also discarded due to them being different category.

At the asking price of the CFE, all the above listed are B (except for the Forte which is as bare as it can be). In terms of space, the Prevé reigns. Even if compared to proper C segment contenders, there is simply no other car that can match Prevé’s CFE engine and safety specifications. Word has it that when the Prevé project was started, it was benchmarked against Toyota Altis and Honda Civic so naturally B segment vehicles will be blown completely away. Value-for-money models most likely hit by the Prevé is the Kia Forte and Peugeot 207 as well as cannibalistic sales on the Inspira which if rumors about the 1.8 models being discontinued is true costs almost RM20k more for the 2.0 variant(s) for a size that’s not that big of a difference.

So on paper, the Prevé is set to become the industry’s new trend setter when it comes to C segment vehicles and has successfully ignited interest and desire among Malaysians. Proton, once again the hopes of Malaysians are on you to prove that you have truly progressed to international standards. Go get em, Tiger!

References:
http://paultan.org/topics/special/proton-preve/
http://forum.autoworld.com.my/index.php?showtopic=103318
www.proton.com
http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2297325

I would be most honored and grateful if you could visit https://www.facebook.com/Kensomuse and Like the page to show your support and receive updates on the latest articles.  Comments are most welcomed. Thank you very much!

Previous post

Volkswagen Passat - The Premium Camry Killer

Next post

Volkswagen Polo Sedan - The most affordable VW in Malaysia yet

kensomuse

4 Comments

  1. April 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    good writeup! how does it compare to your old 308T in terms of power and handling? :)

  2. April 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm — Reply

    Compared to the 308T? Cannot compare … the Preve's CVT is it's Achilles heel …. I don't feel the engine is generating 205Nm at all.

  3. April 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm — Reply

    How does the Preve Premium compare to your friend's 207? Which one do you think is the better buy?

  4. April 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm — Reply

    Hi Kevin,

    I ask myself the same question too. Both are very different cars but very similar prices. Design aside, if it was up to me, I'd take the Preve since it has a bigger cabin, better performance and safety gear.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *