Proton GEN-2

The Essentials

  • Price from £9,195
  • What Car? says: 1 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 40.9mpg
  • What is it? The Proton Gen-2 is a smartly styled hatchback with few redeeming features

Great

  • Thanks to creative input from Lotus, it's capable on the road
  • It's substantially cheaper than most of its rivals
  • On the surface, it looks rather smart

Gripes

  • You get very little to protect you in an accident
  • It looks low-rent and thrown together inside
  • Getting comfy at the wheel is almost impossible
  • Drive

    Thanks to creative input from Lotus, it's smooth and easily controlled - but it's noisy

  • Inside

    It's perfect for aspiring masochists: getting comfy is practically impossible

  • Safety

    Try driving in a suit of armour and strapping a Rottweiler to each wheel

  • Reliability

    Looks good on the surface, but it's a different story underneath

  • Space

    The low ceiling means anyone in the back seats has to stoop

  • Standard and extras

    Decent standard kit includes air-con, alloy wheels, a CD player, front electric windows and rear parking sensors

  • What's it like to drive?

    Lotus had a hand in creating the Proton Gen-2 and, to a degree, it shows: it strikes a good balance between comfort and performance, and sits neatly upright without slouching in corners. It turns its nose as soon as you turn the steering wheel, and the closer the needle is to the red line, the faster it picks up the pace. What's tiring is the engine noise, which drones on like a malignant mother-in-law when you're driving in town.

  • What's it like inside?

    It's almost impossible to get comfy in the Gen-2, thanks to limited adjustment and a combination of high-set seat and low-set wheel. Although there's lots of legroom, rear passengers will brush their hair on the low roof. The controls are reasonably straightforward, but they're camouflaged on the same-colour console. The boot is big enough for a broad selection of shopping bags but there's no glovebox. You get a air-con, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels on basic models, while the most expensive add electric door mirrors and side airbags.

  • How reliable is it?

    Unless you fork out for the top-spec car, you'll get just two airbags and anti-lock brakes. Neither curtain airbags nor stability control are available as an option. Deadlocks don't feature eigher.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Proton Gen-2 is cheaper to buy than most of its rivals, but you'll lose more than 70% of your money if you sell it after three years. Fuel and insurance costs, in the meantime, are average. The interior is distinctly below par: despite looking quite contemporary, the quality feels way behind the times.