Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) review

Published:03 September 2008

Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 2 out of 5
  • 1 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 2 out of 5

Want to swap cheap thrills for cheap fuel? The Gen-2 Ecologic combines petrol power and low-cost LPG to force hard-up drivers to pay the Malaysian saloon a little more attention.

Proton barely registers on most buyers’ radars and, before this new Ecologic model came along, it was hard to find any reason to justify the Gen-2 existence. But the LPG option finally gives the Gen-2 a real purpose: it transforms the dull family car into a dull family car with half-price fuel bills, at no extra cost.

You mean Proton don't charge more for the Gen-2 LPG model?

Absolutely nothing. A fully-converted GEN-2 Ecologic lines up alongside the standard 1.6 petrol for exactly the same price. No added cost at all. Proton absorbs the cost of fitting the system so you don’t have to.

With LPG about half the price of petrol per litre, drivers will save about £500 every 10,000 miles by opting for the Ecologic. So those covering mega-mileages will cash in straight away. Unfortunately, that’s where the plus points end…

So what’s it like to drive?

The Gen-2 shows itself up within seconds of a stamp on the throttle, a limp away from the lights and a waddle past the first roundabout: it’s so dreary to drive. Twelve slow seconds are needed to reach 62mph and the 109bhp, Lotus-engineered 1.6-litre engine falls short for both city zip and comfortable motorway cruising.

The unresponsive brakes need a firm foot for sudden stops and the agricultural five-speed manual gearbox is very disappointing – imagine stirring a box of Maltesers with a breadstick and you’re pretty close.

Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Proton Gen-2 Ecologic

It doesn’t look too bad from the outside, what’s the interior like?

You’ll spend most of your time behind the wheel, and that’s the worst place to be. Except maybe in the passenger seat. Or in the back. Because the outdated switchgear and awful cloth upholstery undoes some of the exterior’s good work, while the cheap-feel steering wheel comes straight from an early ‘90s arcade machine.

Verdict

It may be a budget family hatch with rock-bottom running costs, but quite how anyone is expected to stump up almost 11 grand for a car with such a poor interior finish and dull drive is bewildering.

Yes, you’ll soon recoup some of that high asking price in fuel savings, and it’s commendable that it all comes at no extra cost, but it’s the attention to detail and quality of finish where Gen-2 falls behind.

Most buyers will feel nauseous after one clunk of the indicator or a prod of the lazy throttle. Still thinking of trading cheap thrills for cheap fuel? Just be careful what you wish for…

Would an LPG conversion convince you to buy a Proton? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say.

Specs

Price when new: £10,995
On sale in the UK: Mid-September 2008
Engine: 1597cc 4cyl 16v petrol and LPG, 110bhp @ 3500rpm, 109lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.0sec 0-62mph, 118mph, 48mpg (est) 133g/km CO2 (est)
Weight / material: 1325kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4477/1725/1437

Rivals

Proton GEN-2 Cars for Sale

View all Proton GEN-2 Cars for Sale

Photo Gallery

  • Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) CAR review
  • Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) CAR review
  • Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) CAR review
  • Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) CAR review
  • Proton Gen-2 1.6 Ecologic (2008) CAR review
Comments