Proton GEN 2 Review

21 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Proton GEN 2 Review
Proton Gen

The Proton GEN 2 is nice little car which looks good (apart from the silly rear wing), drives well, is very well equipped, and is as cheap as chips.

To stand any chance at all of sales, an anonymous brand like Proton must have a cast iron warranty, and the GEN 2 comes up with the goods. There’s a 3 year, 60,000 mile overall warranty, plus a 6 year, 100,000 mile guarantee for the engine and gearbox.

The Proton GEN-2 GSX model that I drove has just about every extra you could hope for, including leather seats and a reasonably powerful 1.6 litre petrol engine, which retails at £10,595 (€14,800). That includes air conditioning, four electric windows, central locking, front fog lamps, a very smart Blaupunkt audio system, and a smattering of the alphabet soup of computerised aids to driving safety, like ABS and EBD.

So just who or what is Proton, and can you place your faith in it?

“Struggling”, “ailing”

The company is based in Malaysia, and is described by Reuters in its various news reports as “struggling” and “ailing”. It seems to be losing money, but nobody knows quite how much. It has been looking for a strategic partner. Mitsubishi of Japan owns a small stake, and VW of Germany has been thinking about buying an interest too, although it announced in November that the talks had failed.

The Malaysians were unwilling to cede overall control to VW. Probably a more relevant factoid about Proton is the fact that it bought British engineering consultancy Lotus back in 2003.

Proton makes much of this in its publicity material.

The new 1.6 litre CamPro engine was developed with Lotus. Much of the car was designed by Lotus, and this certainly explains why the car rides and handles so well. The engine even sounds a bit rorty when you floor the accelerator. If you zoom through corners the suspension holds the car level, and the steering keeps the car straight and true, or wherever you happen to be pointing it.

The five-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, giving slick and fast changes.

Too low down

Proton Gen

The leather seats were a welcome surprise and added an element of class to the interior, which is bright and cheerful. The dials on the dashboard look professional and serious, although the controls for the air conditioning, heating and demisting were sited low down in the centre, and this late-middle aged driver found it hard to see exactly what settings were in place and how to change them. Given that Proton’s target market is people like me, it ought to sort that out.

The interior was a mixture of class and bling, with the clock sticking out of the middle of the dashboard not its finest feature. The steering wheel was clad in second rate material too. Headroom was limited, although this could have been because I couldn’t figure out how to lower the seat. The hand brake was a pistol handle design.

The rear seats split 60:40.

Heavy boot lid

The looks of the car are top class, with a delightful front end, very attractively designed rear light clusters and an overall pleasing shape. There are two engine sizes #150; 1.3 and 1.6 litre petrol, with two trim levels, and a choice of the 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic gearbox. There’s no diesel.

That could be a killer omission. Prices start at £8,995-€12,500. Proton has three other products, the Impian, the Savvy and the Safira Neo.

Don’t forget that Nissan has proven with the Qashqai that silly names don’t necessarily impair sales.


When you look at the competition in this sector, your first thought might be to reject this Malaysian interloper. But if price and value for money is important to you, check out the GEN-2. A similarly equipped VW Golf would probably cost at least £5,000-€7,000 more.

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