Worst Car of the year: Proton Savvy
At the first sight, the Savvy looks quite promising. Its exterior design has its own personality. Its ride and handling was tuned by Lotus. Its chassis is quite stiff and its hydraulic power steering is honest. The car is competitively sized and provides competitive passenger room.
Unfortunately, the rest of the car fall short of international standard by a large margin. First of all, the cabin is poorly finished with bad quality plastics, poorly fitted switch gears and filmsy air vents. Above the passenger glovebox is an ugly big hole, ah, it is for fitting the optional air bag. Western buyers will be shocked that the not-so-cheap Savvy does not offer any air bags as standard in its domestic market. Nor there is any power rear windows. The driving position is definitely more ergonomical than Gen.2, but a fixed steering wheel is by no means world class.
The cabin is also poorly insulated from wind noise as well as engine noise. Although the Renault-sourced 1.2-litre 16V engine looks like modern, its installation in the Proton is poor. Once the needle passed 4000 rpm there is a resonance boom ruining cruising refinement. In terms of refinement, Savvy still lags a long way behind European standard.
In the end, reliability problem is a hurdle Savvy must overcome. In Malaysia, Proton has poor reputation about quality and honesty. Every time it launched a new car it promised vast improvement in quality, but every time its customers found being cheated. Today there are less and less patriots willing to put their hard earned money on the gamble. No wonder Proton set a pessimistic domestic sales target of 40,000 Savvys in its first full year. That accounts for only 20-30% share of the local small car market. If it cannot shine in the protected home market, how can it achieve sales success in Europe ?