Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The Gen.2’s attractive styling is ageing remarkably well, it looks modern, attractive, even sporty. The GX and GXR grades look sportier again with a rear spoiler as standard and the top spec GXR also benefits from standard front fog lights.
Not so good We use the term ageing, as the current Gen.2 has been on sale in Australia since October 2004. However, a facelift (arriving surprisingly late compared to a typical vehicle lifecycle) freshened things up in May 2009. A kerb weight of approximately 1,250kg is on the money for a small family sized vehicle however on paper the 1.6L engine looks a little underpowered.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The Gen.2’s dashboard design is refreshingly different to most small family cars – we like how Proton has injected a dose of sportiness to the Gen 2’s instrument cluster and the vertical stack layout housing the audio, heating and ventilation controls are a neat design touch. Impressive forward visibility for the driver thanks to a low set dash and not overly thick windscreen pillars. Legroom for front and second row passengers is good, as is the amount of rear cargo space. The rear bench seat also split folds to create a larger flat space for carrying longer loads. GXR grade adds a leather steering wheel and seats for that little bit of luxury.
Not so good The front seats lack support and are overly firm; rear passenger’s forward visibility suffers as a result of the semi bucket design of the front seats; second row headroom isn’t great for those over 6 foot tall. Unusually the Gen.2 does without a glovebox. General fit AND finish & use of materials is a good step below the class best.
Performance

Performance

Good The sole engine on offer is a four cylinder 1.6L petrol generating 82kW of power and 148Nm of torque – equating to sufficient ‘oomph’ for everyday suburban driving.
Not so good Performance is not the Gen 2’s strong point – the engine lacks torque, most noticeably at low revs and is also lacking a little in refinement. A naturally aspirated (i.e. not turbo or supercharged) 1.6L sized engine is small against the competition, as a result the Gen.2 struggles on a hilly highway when asked to accelerate.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Thanks to Lotus tuned suspension, the Gen 2’s handling is impressive, especially so for a vehicle at this low price point. It remains well balanced, even when pushed hard on a twisty back road and the steering is well weighted.
Not so good The ride can become a little unsettled over rougher surfaces (a common trait for a vehicle of this price) and steering feel is only average, lacking in feel. All weather handling would improve with higher quality tyres fitted.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good All three grades (G, GX & GXR) come standard with air conditioning, power windows, keyless boot entry, reverse parking sensors and cruise control. (Note: cruise control is only available with the Manual not the 4 speed Automatic). The new entry level G grade arrived in January 2010. Official combined fuel economy of 7.1L per 100kms (or 7.9L for the Automatic) is fine, but nothing impressive considering the limited power on offer.
Not so good G and GX grades come standard with only two airbags (driver and front passenger) and the GXR’s airbag count is by no means class leading (adding driver & front passenger side airbags). Electronic Stability Control is absent from all Gen.2's and the entry level G grade misses out on Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution (all important safety features).