Well folks I never thought anyone would give me a new car for a couple of days and then ask me to write a car review. And it never ever crossed my mind that Proton of all people would let me try out their new Suprima. After all the negative things I have said against Proton, they still dare to let me try out the new Suprima.
Either they have supreme confidence in the car or they have supreme confidence in freedom of speech. (Plus I drive a Mercedes - so a friend said I am going to end up comparing a Proton to a Merc. Well lets see.)
Here are some pictures of the car - the Proton Suprima 1.6 litre hatchback. It is actually also known as the Proton Preve Hatchback.
Proton Preve if you recall was launched over a year ago. That car has not sold well. Previous to that Proton had launched the Inspira. The Inspira too did not sell too well. So there has been some re-engineering of the Preve and some re-tooling at the Proton factory (at the cost of around RM200.0 Million I am told) and the Proton Suprima 1.6 (or Preve Hatchback) has been born.
First off the car looks nice. Our Proton boys have got some style. To me the car's appearance is comparable to the VW Golf, the Citroens and even the Mercedes A Class (their little hatchbacks).
Large windows and wide space inside creates few blindspots. Yes, in driver visibility this is superior compared to my Mercedes.
The Suprima is zippy and fast for a 1.6 litre car. The sporty 1.6 litre Campro engine and the handling by Lotus are a good combo. It has a turbo which another car guy told me is a 'snap on' - meaning the turbo was bought off the shelf or modified from an off the shelf model and bolted onto the Suprima. It does give the car speed. I was the fastest on the road throughout the two days - in the city and also going up the Karak Hiway to Colmar (where those pictures were taken). On the hiway the Suprima easily overtook anything in front of me.
It is a seven speed auto with paddle shifts also available. For quicker response or to get out of a tight spot you can shift down and up easily.
Handling is by Lotus - Proton's sports subsidiary. The Suprima does handle the corners and curves very well. It has that sporty feel on the corners - like my Mercedes. There is some lag though between the engine revs going up and the car's speed catching up. There seems to be some resistance at 2000 rpm - it sort of hangs there for a while before moving up. There is also some resistance at 4000 rpm - again the car sort of hangs there for a while before moving beyond. Not a long, long time but enough for the driver to know the car is not responding as instantly. I had to step down on the gas pedal.
My friend who gave me the car said the car does 7.9 litres to the 100 km. Maybe it was my driving but I think I did something in excess of 13 litres per 100 km. If you drive like an angel they say you can get under 8 litres per 100 km (though I have never seen an angel, have you? Lari topik pula, masuk bab agama lagi !!)
The electronic dash has plenty of information. I am still trying to figure out the electronic dash in my Mercedes (after two years) but the Suprima's was easier with only one lever / button to operate. Among other things it gives you a real time update on your fuel consumption. But when it showed 19 litres per 100 km on my driveway, well I think some recalibration is necessary. The standard dash display settings are also a shade too bright.
The dash has an LCD display which includes a cool built in GPS, radio selection, movies, Internet (yes Internet), phone hook ups etc. All the Android stuff for the techies and the 16 year olds. The LCD does get slightly warm. We could not type in "Taman Dagang" in the GPS. It went as far as 'Taman Da..' and then went away to somewhere else. I think some recalibrations are necessary.
The coolest thing in this car is the 'Reverse Camera' - even my Mercedes does not have this. The camera gives you crystal clear view of what is behind the car when you are reversing. Even in the pitch black of night, the camera gives you daylight vision. The only danger is the camera makes things look further when they are actually quite near. So you have to watch your speed when yo back up the car. Again some calibration may be in order.
There are a few positions to turn on the car's lights and you cant seem to be able to turn off the headlamps easily - 'Off' is next to the middle position. In most cars it is the last position with a solid click to indicate 'Lights off'.
The side compartment in the doors are interesting. You can see the pictures :
Can you see those 'steps' in the plastic. My friends and I were trying to figure out this design - I have never seen anything like this before in any other car. Here is a close up. You can stack up cigarette boxes and matchboxes in here.
There is some engine noise inside the car - but not too much. It is comfortable. There are six airbags. This is an improved safety feature. Plus this may have added to the price of the car - which sells for RM80,000 or thereabouts. More on this later.
The airconditioning is good. The vents are large and the blowers are powerful. The controls are easy and range from 20 to 30 degrees only - which is more than sufficient.
For more tech information, you can read the other reviews of the Proton Suprima on the Net.
My beef with the Proton is again the pricing. RM80,000 for this car is too high up. Here is a fact folks - the Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 Sedan has a price tag of RM42,000 when it gets off the ship in Port Klang.
But the VW Jetta sells in the market for RM150,000. It is in another class - although it has a smaller engine.
I think the Proton Suprima should sell at a much, much lower price, say in the RM45,000 range or less. Then the Jetta can sell in the RM65,000 range. This is more realistic. The Malaysian people really need to pay more down to earth, market prices for our cars.
In conclusion : If any other car companies want me to test drive their cars, do give me a call. You know - maybe Porsche, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes. Rolls and Bentley will also be considered. Or any Four Wheel Drive Off Roaders.