I’m not quite sure why but the second media drive of the Proton Prevé didn’t include the IAFM+ variant with the CVT gearbox. Last time round it was the manual version that was excluded as there was only a limited number available. It’s almost as if all three types can never be in the same room at the same time…. Nevertheless this drive helped me form a more rounded picture of what the Proton Prevé has to offer. Yes, the verdict is in….
On this occasion, the type of driving I’m faced with is far more representative of what the average Proton Prevé buyers will encounter – over 200kms of East Coast cruising. As expected the Prevé has an accomplished ride quality comparable to Japanese and Korean makes. It’s not an unrealistic achievement; the Proton-tuned Inspira for example handles even better than the Mitsubishi Lancer that it was based on. In terms of NVH, the Prevé wins over the Civic and Vios even and Proton is not shy to admit that it’s mostly due to the additional sound proofing.
I try the manual transmission variant for the first time and find it a better alternative to the IAFM+ with auto CVT combo. While the engine still feels like it holds onto power rather than transfer it to the axles, it is more liberated than the CVT. You can get the revs you want when you want it rather having to wait for a kickdown. The gear change is not the most positive and is ambiguous with the throw, but this is not a sports car or an expensive sedan. For a more casual drive, there is little to fault in the power train package.
If you want to take it dynamically further then some frustration may surface over the lack of a truly enthusiastic engine. The rev builds with a burden, as if there is too much inertia to overcome, but the Campro’s character of being at ease with high revs does help make a case for it. The basement-spec Prevé is a long way from the previous baseline Persona. There is a fair bit more gear here, and while you may miss out on the CFE’s traction control, stability control and side airbags, you still have the ABS and EBD together with the dual airbags.
Unfortunately, once I break it down, the only reason I can think of to favour the manual over any of the CVT-equipped variants is the lighter engine feel. Unshackled from the clutch-type CVT, the three pedal version feels markedly better.
The star of the line-up though is The CFE. Using my stopwatch, I clocked the claimed 9.6 seconds to 00kmh from standstill; my only grumble is the blunt exhilaration. The top end reach is impressive – 180kmh is easy without straining the engine, 210kmh tops – although the process of getting there is unexciting. While Proton personnel may not agree with my assessment citing customer feedback studies that suggest a comfortable ride is more important, I feel a driver needs to feel confidence that the car can push when flogged properly when overtaking.
The cabin is certainly big and spacious. Rear knee room is particularly impressive, and as noted in the car’s design brief is more than any of its competitors. The same improvement is evident throughout the cabin which is a substantial achievement and helps to put forward a strong argument for the Proton Prevé as a family car. Proton is particularly proud of the Prevé’s safety aspects – the frame and chassis is strong and rigid, and crash tests have revealed an effective crush zone to dissipate energy off the cabin area.
It is the fundamentals that still haunt Proton cars and sadly the Prevé is no exception. Some of the materials are too easily scratched; the legibility of the multi-information display has been sacrificed for the sake of a flashy font; the child safety lock is near impossible to use (it’s practically hidden inside a hole and requires a coin or screwdriver to activate); the screen on the touch-sensitive double din multimedia unit with GPS (standard only in the CFE variant) is too small to display the map effectively. Okay, so the unit wasn’t designed for the Prevé, still if you’re gonna equip your car with it, shouldn’t it be practical?
The Proton Prevé is a notable piece of machinery and yet there are so many things that could have been done to make it better. Sure, Proton has shown a greater level of improvement in the Proton Prevé than previous cars and the company will no doubt make a lot of money from it but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold Proton up to rigorous inspection. If Proton wants to be a global player and make Proton Prevé their global car then they need to start getting used to answering the tough questions now.
Specifications: Preve Executive IAFM+
Engine Inline 4, 16v, 1597cc
Transmission 5-speed manual
Max power 107bhp @ 5750rpm
Max torque 150Nm @ 4000rpm
Price From RM59,990 (OTR with insurance)
On sale Now
Rating 3.5 stars
+ Refinement, gearbox, price, spacious
Specifications: Preve Premium CFE
Engine Inline 4, 16v, 1561cc, turbo
Transmission 7-speed CVT with paddle shift
Max power 138bhp @ 5000rpm
Max torque 205Nm @ 2000-4000rpm
Price From RM72,540 (OTR with insurance)
On sale Now
Rating 3.5 stars
+ Specs, refinement, spacious
- Powertrain, CFE and manual box’ IAFM+ tested, Global car? Ermm…