25 April 2012

Proton Preve CFE driven - it is global enough?

It is very easy to get crush on any new national car. Somehow, they just blown your mind away the first time you see them. Same case for Proton Preve here. It makes me thinks that my brain must be dysfunctional to still consider those tong kosong that are priced to the north of RM80k. Furthermore, many people think that they have "graduated" or has some degree of success when they finally can ditched their Proton and gets the entry level foreign sedan. Does it still intelligent to do so when Proton Preve is here? Here it is, a 4.5m sedan that is priced from RM59k, a clear C Segment at the fraction of the foreign B Segment car. The fair comparison for Preve is Naza Forte, which up until today is the most sensible C Segment car in Malaysia.

Styling wise, Preve can be described as a safe and non-adventurous design. Take it as a 2012 Waja and you won't stray far. The front end for example is the evolution of Waja 2D design, rendered in more elongated 3D profile. Side profile and rear fascia are refreshing though. Crisp character line and flared-out arches adorn the side of the car, preventing it from looking slab-sided. However, the height of the car is so obvious. Preve is extremely tall at 1,524mm. For comparison, Perodua Myvi and Honda Stream RSZ both stands at 1,545mm, just 21mm taller than the sedan-bodied Preve. Anyway, the size gives Preve  class leading interior space, including a massive 508L which is as cavernous as it can get.
Proton tries hard to inject some charisma in the Preve exterior outlook. As can be seen in the rear end shot below, the pert notchback is busy with design elements. The swept back trunk lid fascia, the two-piece staggered tail light and a run of character line that dented both the bumper and rear light in one single sweep into the trunk lid upper edge. As can be seen here too, Proton seems to try to give the impression of forging the car out of the solid billet, which very visible edge line surrounding the rear end fascia. 
More after the jump.

Preve signifies a smarter Proton. It is a Proton that proportionates the budget well, distributing it where it need it the most. It was stated clearly during the launching that any surfaces that one can see, touch and smell is uncompromisingly designed. The perceived quality is high. It gives the impression of a very well made car.

The upper part of the dashboard is padded with textured plastic. Nice here. Same goes for the front door trim which is topped by the soft touch padded material. Yes, only the front. However this is a global practise that is adopted by most budget car maker in the world so it is not an issue. To control the cost and to state an instance where the money has been instead spent of the parts that customer can see, Proton  has kept some of the tooling budget down especially for the unseen parts. The door panel for example is no longer one stamped piece like any new millennium Proton, instead it is two separate piece consisting door inner panel welded with the door sash (the steel thing that hold the window ). The problem is that the welding job is an eye sore. However, rest assured as the rectification is already underway. 

As for the drive, firstly the driving position is comfortable. The seat is sufficiently-sized and offer enough support. However, the seat belt B-pillar anchorage is non-adjustable. The steering is nice to grip, and just nicely-sized both diameter-wise and rim thickness-wise. 

Slotting the gear knob into the "D", Preve move away slowly. In fact, too slowly. Somehow, there is a lag in the throttle response. Floor the gas pedal out of the busy junction, and Preve did not really move. It is strange because I did not encounter this problem with the Exora CFE tested last December. Perhaps it is the engine tuning that strived to get the better emission rating by retarding some of the initial power delivery.

However, on the move, Preve can be hurried to a rapid ride, especially in the "S" mode or using the manual over ride. In the "D" mode, the gear change is smooth as a typical CVT and the car is slightly sluggish. However greater degree of pedal angle eliminates this as Preve really has some untapped power. In the "S" mode, the higher engine speed did release some additional punch, making it a very satisfactory drive. Slide the gearknob to the left, you are ready to engage the manual over ride. Two ways are available to shift the gear, first through the +/- in the gate or better still, use the paddle shift. The manual shift is reasonably good, the lag is minimal, and it feels like a proper gearchange instead of artifically stepped CVT.

The ride is soothing, with a touch of firmness that never betray the ride comfort. Tight corner can be taken with great confidence too. Despite the body height, Preve did track into the intended cornering line in a fuss-free manner. However, the steering feel is quite insubstantial. This is where there is a mixed response from many articles available on-line. Some say it is nicely weighted, but this author think it is light, in fact, it has less feel than the Exora CFE item.

Anyhow, Preve represent the best ride for its money. You won't be swearing the four letter word when you approach a winding back road and you can tackle those bends with confidence. Even though the steering is a bit light, it won't detract you from the fluency of the ride and steers.  

The cabin is spacious. Tall 1.8m adult can comfortable sit at the back with more than enough legroom. However, MMN thinks that Proton could do better with the sound insulation. Throughout the ride, there is a constant "dengung" from the car. It is not the tyre noise, and it is not the wind noise. I think it is the sound of the CVT. I might be wrong here, but there is this one particular sound among the quietness of the cabin.

Lastly, does it make sense to buy? Well,  lets talked about the cost. In Japan, Toyota Corolla Axio is priced at RM65k to RM97k in today's exchange rate. So it is indeed possible to price the 4.5m car in this RM80k region. So don't get too excited about the price. However, for the price, or indeed in sub RM100k market in Malaysia, few car offers better space, pace and value for money. The closest challenger would be Naza Forte. Forget about those tong kosong that goes for near RM90k, you better love your money more. The choice is clear, either Preve or Forte. You won't go significantly wrong with either of this.

Small gallery of Proton Preve below. This is among the unpublished sets of photos the MMN team took during the launching event. For massive gallery of Proton Preve, head to MMN previous coverage at:
Proton Preve Executive and Manual ---> HERE
Mega launch gallery of Proton Preve & specs ---> HERE


Anonymous said...

No matter it is "tong kosong" or not, it achieve the 5 star NCAP. Plus, didn't you study physics at school on how much impact can be absorb by a "tong kosong" than a forge steel? At least not all people can easily spent extra 20k for the 'sejuk' 2.0 korean horse.

Akbar MMN said...

Please read AGAIN my article as your comment showed that you misunderstood my article completely.

Firstly, "tong kosong" here is not referred to Proton Preve. It was meant as those foreign brand car that is spartan in features but sold at near RM90k. So "tong kosong" here here means sparsely equipped.

Secondly, "tong kosong" here is not meant as a "tin milo" kind of thing when many bugger like to knock on Proton car as if it is made from sea weed or not. I am certainly more intelligent than that hence my schooling level need not to be asked. Furthermore I was car design engineer too, and I know for sure that some metal panels are as thin as 0.5mm. Do you know that?

Anyway thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Very informative and useful for someone who is considering the Preve.
I understand that the article is supposed to sound casual, but it can be further polished.
Overall, good review. Thanks.