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  • Five-year warranty, free servicing and roadside assistance lowers long-term ownership costs; roomy interior; decent steering; solid handling
  • Overpriced; below-average performance and economy; poor refinement and build quality; too-firm urban ride quality; no cruise control; compromised driving position; detail design flaws

OUR RATING
4 / 10



Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review

The Proton Preve is tagged by the Malaysian manufacturer as an example of its ability to compete on the world stage.

The name Preve (pronounced Pree-vey) means ‘proof’ or ‘to prove’, and 30 years after Proton was established – although it’s barely made a dent in Australia since arriving in 1995 – this small sedan is its first entirely home-grown effort. It has plenty of weight on its Toyota Corolla-sized shoulders, then, but the Preve has at least already proven tangibly strong having been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

A single 1.6-litre four-cylinder model is available for the Proton Preve, with a five-speed manual for $18,990 driveaway, or the automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) tested here priced at $20,990 driveaway. Both get a five-year/150,000km warranty, and over that period both roadside assistance and scheduled servicing every 12 months or 15,000km is entirely free.

On the features side of the specifications list the Proton Preve appears competitive. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, reversing sensors, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, keyless entry with alarm, power windows, and LED daytime running lights with follow-home functionality. Cruise control is a major omission for the price, but six airbags and electronic stability control (ESC) are included.

Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review

The interior in which most of those features are housed, however, isn’t so impressive. The Preve suffers badly from poor fit and finish. On our test car the seat trim was loose, the dark woodgrain passenger dash panel jutted out several millimetres from the adjoining central piece, and the otherwise decent textured-bathmat-style dashtop plastic joined unevenly at the A-pillar base.

There are ergonomic problems, too. The steering wheel adjusts only for height yet it doesn’t go high enough, and the audio buttons on it don’t illuminate at night. The audio system itself has fiddly and poorly labelled buttons, and a basic red pixellated display.

If sprawling space is more of a priority than accurate panel fit and tactile controls, however, then the Proton Preve does ‘prove’ decent.

The rear seat is very roomy – equal to a Nissan Pulsar and more capacious than the Opel Astra and Mazda 3 we drove in the same week – and behind the backrest lies a large 508-litre boot.

Unlike with the 510-litre Pulsar, cargo capacity further expands in the Preve thanks to the inclusion of 60:40 split-fold rear seats, though as with the Nissan the Proton gets luggage-crushing, antiquated ‘gooseneck’ bootlid hinges. The lack of a release button on the key fob will stump some (as it did yours truly), though despite appearances the boot can be opened remotely by holding down the door unlock button for three seconds.

Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review

Switch to the engine specifications side of the brochure, then drive the Preve, and it is found lacking both on paper and on the road. All non-turbocharged rivals with the exception of the Focus Ambiente have larger engines than the 1.6-litre Proton, and even then the Ford has more power and torque, and is lighter.

Power of 80kW (produced at 5750rpm) and torque of 150Nm (at 4000rpm) just isn’t enough to push a 1325kg sedan. The Preve is painfully sluggish off the mark. When pressed it also puts crosses across each of the letters of the NVH acronym with retrograde levels of noise, vibration, and harshness.

Even when reversing on light throttle, vibrations stream through the steering wheel, pedals and dash – and the CVT even made the engine stall once. On coarse chip bitumen, particularly, road noise fights with the thrashy engine.

Proton quotes 0-100km/h in 12.5 seconds – or about 20 per cent slower than the vast majority of rivals. Claimed consumption of 8.0L/100km is also higher by around the same percentage compared with competitors such as the 1.6-litre Focus (6.5L) and 1.8-litre Pulsar (6.7L). At least the Proton Preve didn’t exceed its ADR figure by too much on the test, recording 9.3L/100km during an even mix of urban, freeway and hard driving.

Under maximum throttle the CVT holds revs at 5200rpm, even in the alternative S mode, which is curious because peak power arrives 550rpm later. With no tipshifter facility or steering wheel paddles, the maximum 80kW isn’t ever actually delivered.

Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review

The CVT works best in undemanding situations, particularly on the freeway where it slips to a relaxed 2500rpm when travelling at 120km/h. On slight inclines around town the CVT subtly raises revs to disguise the grunt deficit, improving refinement compared with a traditional automatic that would need to aggressively slur back several gears.

The Preve’s suspension tune proves reasonably impressive on the open road, too.

Around town the rebound damping rates are too quick, and the low-speed ride is lumpy. But wearing sensible tall-profile 16-inch rubber, the suspension – tuned by Lotus, says Proton – deals well with larger ruts and irregulations.

The harder the Proton Preve is punted on a poorly surfaced twisting slice of bitumen, the better it feels. Where the Pulsar is soft but balanced, and the Mitsubishi Lancer soggy and lacking control, the Proton sits flat, keeps its body movements tight and grips decently.

Although it resists understeer well up to a point, the front end still isn’t completely sharp and it lacks the adjustability for which its best rivals are known – instead of tightening its line when the throttle is lifted mid corner, the Proton simply feels planted and continues its path of mild understeer.

The regular hydraulic-mechanical power steering feels vague on centre and in the first movements, and it isn’t particularly quick. But it becomes nicely meaty on the move – far more weighty than other small cars – and quite direct when using more lock.

Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review
Proton Prevé Review

On long radius sweepers, just point, hold and watch the Preve maintain the requested line without requiring adjustment.

Decent dynamics, in addition to free servicing and a roomy cabin, aren’t enough to offset the flawed design, below-average performance, lack of refinement, and poor fit and finish of the Proton Preve.

For the price, it should at least offer the 103kW/205Nm 1.6-litre turbo engine available overseas – Proton’s first turbo engine will arrive later this year, but no doubt for a higher cost. Even then, more power would only solve one of this car’s several issues.

The Proton Preve should be priced at least $4000 cheaper, to be reasonably competitive against light sedans such as the Holden Barina and Nissan Almera. It is better than the Chery J3 that sells for $6000 less, but the Proton isn’t necessarily 35 per cent better, and it certainly shares some of the Chinese-made hatchback’s quality and refinement shortfalls.


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PROTON PREVé BREAKDOWN

Proton Prevé Review
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  • Martin

    Yet to see even one of these on the roads around Brisbane. I don’t think the exterior styling is all that bad – except maybe the undersized looking wheels. Thanks CA for the amusing end to the article.

    • Dan

      Same here in Melbourne. Unfortunately I’ve some a few Protons on the road though.

  • AussieJ14

    ugly as hell!!!!

  • AussieJ14

    Ugly as h*ll

    • name

      I agree 100%.

      Just looking at it makes me sad.

      • essl

        You should see it through your naked eyes, not pictures

  • MisterZed

    Proton should just pack up and go home. Seriously how can any brand survive in this country selling only 30 vehicles a month? Do the dealers sell 1 car a month and then sit around twiddling their thumbs for the next 29 days?

    • $29896495

      They surely must have other brands to sell. Probably can’t even drag people close to one of these.

    • Aero7

      Proton sold 1,005 cars in Australia for 2012, that equates to around 84 per month.

      The non-turbo Preve above is indeed overpriced and is indeed a failure, that I will agree. However, the Preve GXR turbo stands a better chance at 2.5 stars or maybe 3 stars if CA is generous. In any case, I hope CA reviews the Prevé turbo as well when it lands in Q3 2013. In many ways, the Preve mirrors the Holden Cruze in the sense that it started off on poor-footing due to its underpowered engine, and ended up receiving a superior turbocharged engine which drove up its competitiveness.

      Fingers crossed, the Preve turbo will retail at $22.5k and not $25k for the sake of competitiveness. Proton is way in over their heads thinking they can sell a poor excuse of a car, that is the Preve non-turbo between $19k and $21k. Here’s hoping that Proton slashes $3k off the non-turbo range by 2014.

      Quality, fit & finish as well as refinement will pick in the coming years with vendor streamlining. There is also a hatchback version of the Preve in store, as well as the Exora turbo, all scheduled for a 2013 launch.

      Proton isn’t planning on packing up and leaving Australia just yet.

      • MisterZed

        A lot of those 1000 sales were run-out (discontinued) vehicles like Jumbuck, Satria etc. Their range is a lot slimmer now and they are down to selling 30-40 cars a month only.

      • $29896495

        Just because it has a turbo motor doesn’t make it worth over 20K, let alone 16K. Almost every aspect of the car is second rate. They have had plenty of time to improve their quality, but haven’t been able to. Owners in its home country complain of poor reliability. 16, I think is plenty optimistic but 20 plus is delusional. Only the blind and infirm would be paying it.

        • bernie

          I’d rather have powerful engine than a ‘luxurious’ interior, You don’t actually touch everything in a car! In contrast, powerful linear torque at low rpm is very helpful in everyday driving

          • $29896495

            helps if the car doesn’t fall apart around you.

          • bernie

            You said as if you saw one. Genius.

    • Smart US

      no the are working on the sale for 29 days – tweaking and twisting – looking for finance etc.

    • someguyonthenet

      they survive buy draining their countrymen dry, using their money from ridiculusly high import taxes and soldering on..

  • Cars

    Perhaps if they improved their finish and put the 1.6 Turbo from the Exora in they might be competitive. Seems unlikely….

  • $29896495

    Great test! Echoed everything we said earlier when it was released. So we can pat ourselves on the back and say what more needs to be said. Vindicated. Nice colour though,

    • Zaccy16

      haha, yep i agree, that interior is beyond a joke and refinement sounds terrible, it least it has a special feature that other small cars don’t have. A horrible CVT tranny that also stalls!

      • kolp93

        not as worse as DSG!

  • Matt

    And yet a lot of people here would prefer this to a VW…

  • Shaun

    Saw a middle aged lady (45 ish…) driving one of these in a low speed environment, accidentally stared her down trying to look at the car, it looked clumsy and incorrectly proportioned. Though she probably chose it in the best colour, a gunmetal grey.

    Pricing is astronomical though for what it is, Proton needs to get real.

  • horsie

    you don’t see many basic 4 cylinder cars with a factory strut brace , thats kind of cool

    • $29896495

      You wouldn’t buy it just because it has those struts would you? (and the rusty bolts holding it on) Most cars these days are engineered with stiff enough shells that they don’t need those.

      • blunder

        You won’t be sorry because the shell is very hard against most casr in its category, 1.8GPa

        • $29896495

          I won’t be sorry because I won’t be buying one.

          • blunder

            They will enjoy what you don’t

          • $29896495

            Well just to pick up on a point further up, you don’t want a very hard shell or it will transfer the shock of the accident to the passengers, resulting in injury. That’s why frames collapse.

            Who, will?

  • Zaccy16

    All proton are proving is that they are 15 to 20 years behind the competition with refinement, quality, interiors, engines etc..

    • Pooton

      I agree with Zaccy, this CR@P should not be allowed into the country, makes the rubbish from China look positively well engineered, a neighbour bought one years ago, thinking it would rival there original Datsun 1600, well it didn’t, started to fall apart from day one, needing a new head after a month and the new car smell reminded me of rubber boots. Unless Malaysia will accept our cars, which it wont, we should not accept its cars, at least most Aussies have it right and avoid this rubbish, remember the jumbuck, I saw the wreck that ANCAP had on dsiplay and they are really made out of recylced something, rhyming with admit. Horrible stuff, should stay in Malaysia and used as taxis.

      • Zaccy16

        I agree, they are a POS

  • Sumpguard

    2 stars. LOL . Why bother?

  • KH

    how the hell do you have no cruise control?! the mind boggles…

  • F1orce

    Hahaa at the cute pseudo RWD engine cover!

  • nick

    It is interesting that its main criticism is that it is overpriced by $40000 when cars that are overpriced by $100,000 and more get no mention (aka Land Rover, Jaguar, Lexus, and all the German brands.)

    • Milsie

      Lexus aren’t THAT over-priced in terms of standard equipment compared to the competition. Audi would have to take the cake for being the most over priced brand in Australia…

      • nick

        They are not compared to Audi etc but compared to overseas still overpriced. Issue is CA saying this is overpriced, how much overpriced, is C63 AMG is it 250% better that a HSV, Maybe 20-30% but that;s not relevant to those cars.. But this massive issue never gets a mention.

        • JooberJCW

          Its because people pay for the brand-image of the amg/ merc. With this car it has little brand value in fact less so than the competitors, it has to play on the price/value/quality proposition, and that’s where this is overpriced

    • F1orce

      Lexus aren’t overpriced at all, compared to their rivals.

      They usually come loaded with everything. And they don’t charge an arm & leg for the more powerful variants..

      • nick

        Unfortunately they don’t have to try hard to compete with their rivals in Australia, check out the US price of Lexus, and you will see we are paying vastly more for the same cars.

    • mike

      The different is those brands are selling, proton isn’t.

      • nick

        That may be true but comment still applies that many cars are $50-250K overpriced, this is ignored as a negative, where this car is apparently $4K overpriced and it is a major issue, Totally unfair in my opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fendi.ghazali Fendi Hassansins Izznogoud

    Proton should do something with their CVT transmission and ECU map.

  • Kon Wai Luen

    I’m surprised that Proton has launched the Preve in Australia with the IAFM engine. It’s one of those decisions that I don’t think I’ll ever understand. I look forward to see what you guys will have to say about the CFE version when it reaches your shores.

  • maria ozawa

    You should try turbocharge preve dude…
    All the goodies much more better. Non turbo version for those who have tight budget.

    • $29896495

      Preve is over priced crap, didn’t you read the test or any of the comments?

      • jagore

        Only several same people here bashed it without riding it first!

        • $29896495

          That was everyone Australian including the guy who tested it!

          • ktmwa

            then thousand other drivers must be blind to say it’s good

  • rmel

    Preve is awesome car, 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Very stable for high speed drive and at corner.

    • jack

      It is value for money with traction control and ESP while body made from ultra high tensile steel… and yes a very stable at high speed.

      • Lewes

        I think the car is design by Italians, CVT by punch powertrain who I think supplys to VW and manual by Gatrag who I think supply to BMW, Probably suspension by Lotus, so I think Preve is a damn good car? I am sure all here would praise it if the badge is different?

        • $29896495

          No, don’t think so

          • crokc

            yes i think so.

    • Eastbourne

      Yeah, nice looking car, CVT gear from punchpowertrain and lotus handling.

  • myarm

    This is ASIA’s answer to BMW 3 series!

  • Aero

    Hi CarAdvice, will you be reviewing the 2014 Prevé range in the near future ? Prices have gone down $3,500 since 2013, and the new Prevé GXR has finally arrived. Would be great to see what CarAdvice makes of the updated 2014 Proton Prevé range. Thanks in advance !

  • R3

    aaaa…have you tried the turbo version…If you do…you might wanna revise your rating

Proton Prevé Specs

GX : 1.6L MULTI POINT F/INJ - CVT AUTO 6 SPEED - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
PROTON
Model
PREVE
Variant
GX
Series
CR
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
150Nm @  4000rpm
Max. Power
80kW @  5750rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
60.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
76x88mm
Compression Ratio
10.6
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
CVT AUTO 6 SPEED
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
50
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1325
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1524mm
Length
4543mm
Width
1786mm
Ground Clearance
155mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.6
Front Rim Size
6x16
Rear Rim Size
6x16
Front Tyres
205/55 R16
Rear Tyres
205/55 R16
Wheel Base
2650
Front Track
1542
Rear Track
1542
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Mobile Phone Connectivity, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
60 months /  150,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
28-I-14
Country of Origin
MALAYSIA