Proton is coming back to the UK! Well actually, Proton never officially went away, but it’s been so quiet recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had shut up shop and taken the last ship out of Bristol. But no, whilst researching the piece on the MPI, I chanced upon a subtle banner on the Proton website proclaiming ‘New products coming soon‘. One such product appears to be the Proton Prevé which, along with the Exora MPV, look to be destined for the UK.
In the style of Top Gear’s James May – GOOD NEWS!
No really, I think it is. The interest in Dacia proves that there’s an appetite for good, honest, value-driven cars in the UK and who better than Proton to mount a serious assault on the budget end of the market. The likes of Kia, Hyundai and Skoda surrendered their budget badge a long time ago.
From what I understand, Prevé is pronounced Pree-vey, as in Voyage Prive – that holiday company with the incredibly annoying TV ads. Put that aside for a moment because prevé is apparently a word that means proof. Quite what the Prevé is proving is anyone’s guess…
The Proton Prevé is powered by a 1.6-litre CAMPRO engine developing 107hp or 138hp with the addition of a turbocharger. There’s a choice of transmissions, from a 5-speed manual (steady), to a 6-speed CVT or 7-speed CVT with paddle-shifters. Top speed ranges from between 105mph and 118mph, with 62mph reached in 9.6 seconds if you opt for the 7-speed CVT. Choose the 5-speed manual and it will take 12 seconds to get there.
So it’s not exactly bursting with performance. Fuel economy is slightly better, ranging from between 42.8mpg and 48.7mpg.
It’s similar in size to the Chevrolet Cruze, with dimensions of 4,543mm length, 1,786mm width and 1,524mm height, comparing with the Cruze’s 4,514mm length, 1,797mm width and 1,477mm height. Crucially though, the Proton Prevé offers 508 litres of boot space compared with the Cruze’s 413. The Prevé even trumps the larger MG6 which only has 498 litres of space in the boot.
When I saw it I immediately thought of the Skoda Rapid – a car the Prevé will ultimately need to tackle if and when it enters the UK market. It’s similar in size to the Prevé, but the Rapid offers 550 litres of boot space. It will also offer a selection of diesel engines and super-frugal petrol engines, whereas the Prevé looks to be arriving with just the 1.6-litre petrol. Proton may have the same problem as MG then…
It looks okay – nothing too outlandish, although I’m not sure how much of the ‘Italian design cues’ actually made it through from concept to production. The interior too is okay – about what you’d expect from Proton. The important factor will be just how well screwed together it is.
The level of standard equipment will also be important, although the Malaysian spec cars suggest a rather mixed bag. For example, all models get in-car WiFi and LED daytime running lights as standard, but you need to opt for the Premium trim level to get climate control. That said, the Premium model is very well equipped, with cruise, auto lights, auto wipers, push button start, paddle shifters, in-built sat nav, rear spoiler and follow-me-home lights. Impressive.
You’d like to think that Lotus had a role to play in the dynamics of the Proton Prevé and reading this Australian review suggests that may have been the case. In fact, whilst they predictably criticise the quality of the interior and the rather lethargic performance, they do suggest that once on the move it’s actually pretty good to drive. Which sounds promising.
Pricing will be crucial. Looking at the Malaysian and Australian prices, the Prevé could be priced between £12,500 and £16,000 when it arrives in the UK, which would neatly undercut the Chevrolet Cruze, Skoda Rapid and MG6.
Proton has spent rather a long time in the UK motoring wilderness, but I’m excited about the prospect of them showcasing a couple of new models. I wasn’t that impressed with the Exora when I drove it back in 2011, but if in the subsequent couple of years they’ve made some improvements, it could be worth a second look.
In the meantime I’ll look forward to the re-emergence of Proton. Bring on the (hopefully) good to drive and reasonably priced Prevé.
All images © Proton.