The 2012 Proton Preve has to be one of the best-looking cars to ever wear the Proton badge. It looks particularly good from the front, boasting an aggressive-looking design that hints at the potential of the car. The front grille's chrome strip linking the sleek headlamps is a nice touch indeed, and the Proton Preve's clean lines hide the car's substantial size well, too. Proton designers seem to have run out of ideas towards the rear, which looks old-fashioned compared with the rest of the body. More points are lost as we move inside to a dash design that places functionality above flair. Perhaps expecting more from an already well-designed car is too much to ask; we just hope Proton can keep up its good work in the design department.
Just brilliant. The 2012 Proton Preve continues what Proton is well-known for: ride-and-handling, which in the case of the Preve is spot-on. It is not as direct as the Proton Waja, but the Proton Preve holds its own for its wonderful sense of fluency on the roads. The individual qualities of the remarkable body control, good agility and unflappable chassis composure are married to a hydraulic steering that feels direct, linear, feelsome and natural—nothing of the artificial-feel imparted by new electric steering systems. You do feel the 2012 Proton Preve's substantial weight in corners upon pushing harder, or in quick direction changes, but, overall, such a confidence-inspiring, communicative car is hard to find at any price level, let alone in the RM70K price bracket.
For all its handling prowess, the 2012 Proton Preve is a family-oriented car, with a suspension that serves up a supple ride over surface potholes and bumps and fine vertical damping over highway undulations. Refinement is not so high on the score sheet, marred by some CVT whine and engine noise, though wind and road noise levels are kept well out of the cabin, even at speeds up to 140-150km/h. The driving position is fine, too, though the addition of steering reach adjustments will be a definite plus. The logical, intuitive ergonomics are worlds of improvement on cars like the Proton Waja as well: all controls and switches are nicely within reach. Now, if only the stylised and not-very-legible fonts on the instruments are replaced in the facelift, then it will be perfect.
Quality + Reliability
Migrate from any Proton, old or new, into the 2012 Proton Preve's cabin, and you will be pleasantly surprised: in abundance are soft-touch plastics at the areas that matter, and most surfaces and controls are given a nice, smooth texture. The controls, too, operate with a nice action. That said, there are areas to improve upon: for one, the dashboard-covering plastic looks and feels greasy, though the key issue should be the fit-and-finish standard, which needs quite some work to compete on an equal footing with those of C-segment rivals. Almost all panels could be more tightly and solidly fitted, and the paint finish on the temperature knobs is glaringly bad. While not a quality issue, the auto-folding mirrors would need some reprogramming to auto-unfold when you unlock, not only after you start moving.
Headlining the 2012 Proton Preve's engine range is the turbocharged 1.6-litre CFE Campro engine with 140 HP at 5000 rpm and 205 Nm between 2000â€“4000 rpm. There is none of the Campro's notorious mid-range torque dip, and the engine feels more than adequate of moving the Proton Preve's mass once you hit 2000 rpm and onwards. What lets the engine down is clearly the first-generation CVT that constantly whines and feels hesitant. The gentle throttle mapping and high kerb weight combine for progress that feels very linear, though it is clear that the 2012 Proton Preve is not slow from the 9.6-second century sprint and 190 km/h top speed. How about the two other variants powered by the 1.6 Campro IAFM+ engine with 109 HP at 5750 rpm and 150 Nm at 4000 rpm? They both feel, and indeed are, slow off the line, and in instances when you need to overtake or go uphill. The deficit of low-end torque means that high revs are a constant companion, and that is made easier with the five-speed manual gearbox that serves up slick gear changes with short throws.
Being one of the largest C-segment cars out there, the 2012 Proton Preve does not disappoint when it comes to interior room: it pampers rear passengers with a class-leading abundance of leg and shoulder room, and of course, there is no sloping roofline to affect the headroom behind. If rivals can match the Preve for rear room, then there is no doubt that the 2012 Proton Preve's boot of 508 litres is right at the top of the class. Moreover, 60:40 split-folding rear seats and trunk lid remote release are available across all three variants.
The 2012 Proton Preve is affordable to maintain and repair, as you might expect of a Proton, not expensive to insure, and its 1561-cc engine requires a token amount of tax to stay on Malaysian roads. It becomes trickier when you want to sell your Proton Preve on the used car market however, because in a few years, there will be many used examples on the market, which can only be good news for second-hand car shoppers. Sadly, the improving, but still frown upon, Proton brand and badge will do little to help your used car value. Fuel economy is below expectation, too, as the 2012 Proton Preve's turbo engine appears to consume petrol more readily than we hoped, managing barely 70 percent of the stated 15.2 km/litre figure.
Value for Money
No doubt, there is great value for money here, as no car with the same mix of ride-and-handling, refinement, roominess and equipment comes close in terms of pricing. But no, the 2012 Proton Preve is quite clearly not a “global car with global standards”, as the car's remaining quality issues, still unknown reliability concerns, and less-than-perfect powertrains are aspects that need looking into in future versions of the Proton Preve. Our national car maker has a habit of setting expectations too high with over-optimistic taglines, but this time round, it has come closer than ever before to fulfilling the many promises. Overall, the 2012 Proton Preve is a highly competitive car that has set new standards for a Proton, and most Malaysians will be well-served by it.
16" alloys, projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights, front and rear fog lamps, “follow-me-home” lights, and trunk lid remote release are standard on both Executive and Premium trims, though it is only the higher-end one that gets all the goodies like automatic headlamps, power-folding side mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, four-window tinting and a rear spoiler. Inside the 2012 Proton Preve, leather upholstery is not offered on any variant, and the Premium trim is the only to get a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The CD/MP3 audio player with Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity, 4G in-car Wifi, steering audio switches and a portable touch-screen GPS navigation unit are standard across both trims. The Premium trim adds a built-in GPS unit, automatic climate control and a Push Start button. Safety-wise, the Executive trim equips the 2012 Proton Preve with dual airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front active headrests, and ABS with EBD; the Premium trim adds items such as side airbags, Brake Assist (BA), traction and stability control systems, and even ISOFIX mountings.
The 2012 Proton Preve is claimed to return up to 17.2 km/litre of fuel economy in the 1.6 IAFM CVT, and 16.1 km/litre with the manual gearbox and 15.2 km/litre when you want the much-needed turbo power. It all looks good for the environment and our wallets on paper, except that Proton achieved those figures by driving the Preve at a constant speed of 90 km/h. Real-world driving, which consists of a mixture of city start-stop traffic and highway cruising, means that you will likely get about 70 percent of those figures at the pumps, or less if you push too hard too often.