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The Proton Preve wasn’t even my first choice of car to begin with.
My family’s old 2005 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GL was the first car that I ever drove. It was a decent car, but the heavy body is something the 1.6-litre engine and automatic would struggle to haul around. As the years go by, the car starting giving more issues, ranging from a gearbox that has the tendency to hold onto second gear for an unnecessarily long time to the engine losing compression. With problems starting to pile up, my father decided to let go of the car in 2016 and told me that the next car in our porch would be my car.
With a RM60,000 budget and “only manual transmission” as my requirement, I only had very few options. One of them was the Proton Inspira 1.8, which on the used car market back then was around that price. However, my mother was not agreeable to a used car, citing unknown mechanical condition as the main opposing factor. I had also been looking at the Proton Persona CM at the time, but my father said that it is “too spartan and too old”. In the end, the Preve stood out as the only worthy candidate left. But here’s a quirk: I have never even test drove the car before plonking down the deposit. I had only made my choice based on reviews by magazines and actual owners of the car, who doesn’t seem to have much complaints about it. Another catch with my want for a manual version means it is the base spec model and does not come with the turbo engine.
As I would learn later, I had actually made the right choice: the CFE/Turbo variants all has issues with their turbo and CVT gearbox. No love lost then. The CamPro engine under the hood of mine is the IAFM+ version, which pushes out 107 hp and 150 Nm of torque. Not very impressive numbers, but it is enough to entertain me on my spirited touge drives. My only complain of the engine is the slow throttle response, which has a bit of delay from the time I plant my foot down to the computer actually translating the input to output, although an aftermarket 4-2-1 exhaust manifold system helped mitigate the issue quite a bit because it deleted the restrictive catalytic converter while also freeing up some more exhaust noise in the process.
Meanwhile, the Getrag 5-speed manual is a bliss to use. Clutch is not heavy and is easy to modulate, but the gear change actions are a bit notchy at times.
Proton cars are renowned for their handling prowess, and the Preve does not disappoint in this aspect. As mentioned before, my touge drives exposes how well the chassis is built. Steering is direct and inspires confidence, thanks to it still using hydraulic power steering instead of the newer electronic system. Body roll is to be expected, but it’s nothing some aftermarket anti-roll bars can’t fix. It also exhibits some nose heavy characteristics on corner turn-ins, but only if you are being an idiot with your cornering speeds.
I was genuinely surprised by the fact that the car comes with a front strut bar right from the factory, although it is a basic 3-piece construction design type. I believe that helped improved things too. And with better tyres such as the current set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 that I am using, the handling limits of the car is improved further.
Exterior wise, I added a Samurai rubber lip splitter up front and a Preve CFE/Turbo-style ducktail spoiler on the trunk that was a gift from a friend. I’ve also got the LED strips in the headlights to function as daytime-running lights, because the DRL function is only available on Suprima from the factory, not the Preve. And the top intake grille with honeycomb pattern from the Suprima completes the changes to date.
The Preve has been with me for just over 4 years now, but each drive with it fills me with joy. It is my daily driver and my weekend touge machine, a car that I learned a lot more about “car control” and improve my driving skills upon. I even used it to be a Uber and Grab driver at one point. It also serves as my family’s main car when going for long distance travels, so I can’t really do much to the car that would ruin the car’s comfort. But my ultimate goal is to send the car to Lotus Cars and have it turned into a “Lotus Preve”, much like the legendary sports sedans such as the Lotus Carlton and Cortina that the British firm has churned out in the past. However, the costs to realize that dream would probably be much higher than buying an actual sports sedan like Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and fettling around with, so it does make me question my sanity twice….
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