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Fuel economy – Proton is up to speed

9th August, 2018


KOTA KINABALU: Not too long ago, the launch of new a Proton car would be received with cynicism especially in the fuel consumption department where it has become one of the main criteria for consumers when they purchase a new car in the price bracket.

This was the company’s weakness that resulted in most of those consumers ending up buying other cars in similar category because whether we like it or not, fuel prices would always increase over time.

So when Proton started introducing newer models such as Iriz, new Persona, and the new Saga, the company did not only improve the cars’ fuel consumption but also improved its safety features that can only be matched by more expensive foreign makes.

All these safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) + Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist which can be summed up with the 5-Star ASEAN NCAP Safety Rating come standard with the Iriz.

To prove its point, Proton invited this writer to participate in its ongoing nationwide 1 Tank Adventure challenge for East Malaysia leg held in Sabah from July 24 to 25.

The challenge was to drive some 420 kilometres with one tank of fuel in three Proton models, Iriz 1.3, Persona 1.6, and Saga 1.3, all equipped with continuous variable transmission (CVT).

There were six Proton Sagas, five Irizs and five personas driven by a mixture of media practitioners, celebrities and proton customers.

I was assigned to drive an Iriz 1.3 together with another media practitioner and we were flagged off at the Kota Kinabalu Proton Edar 4S centre in Inanam before fuelling up at a nearby Petronas station.

Our destination was Nabalu Lodge in Kundasang where we would stop for the night but to get there, we would not be using the familiar conventional route but rather a longer one through Tuaran, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and to Ranau via the new Marak Parak road.

To ensure we do not drive too slowly or take a short cut, we were required to stop at several check points along the way at given timeframes, namely Tuaran clock tower, Serinsim Sub Station in Kota Marudu, and Sabah Tea Plantation before stopping at Nabalu Lodge in Kundasang.

I believe the route was designed so to make the drive as realistic as possible where it consisted of congested city roads from Inanam to Tuaran, and the winding and mountainous roads from Tuaran, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, and Kundasang.

The Iriz felt normal as we drove at ‘normal’ speed, but this soon changed as we sped along the winding roads between Marak Parak and Kundasang.

I was impressed by the Iriz’s handling which felt surefooted despite being a small and light car. The electric power steering felt precise and body roll was kept at minimum, thanks to the Lotus DNA that Proton inherited throughout its ownership of the renowned British sports car maker.

While in Kundasang, we had an opportunity to listen to a talk by a Proton engineer on the safety features of Proton cars which are standard across all new models, distinguishing it from its rivals. We would have the opportunity to try out some of these features on the next day.

On morning of July 25, we started our journey back to Kota Kinabalu but once again we skipped the usual route through Tamparuli in favour of the Kota Belud bypass road as we head to Kuala Abai beach, our next check point.

The journey comprised mostly of winding downhill cruise, allowing us to coast for at least half of the way which must have helped us to conserve whatever petrol remaining in the tank.

Our drive to the next destination, Likas Stadium, however was peppered with what average drivers would face every day – slow moving lorries compounded with slow moving cars along the Kota Belud – Tuaran Road, before blending into city traffic as we approached the city centre.

Once at Likas Stadium, Proton team organised a Dynamic Drive session where we were given an opportunity to try the safety features of an Iriz 1.6 and Persona 1.6.

Sitting behind the wheel of the test cars, I was once again, impressed as they performed as claimed by its manufacturer, particularly in the slalom course where it demonstrated the ESC and Traction Control were in play.

The emergency braking course where we had to avoid an obstacle while flooring the brake pedal proved that the car can still be controlled in such situation.

Drivers would not normally notice these features on normal daily drives but would definitely be thankful to have them when they are faced with emergency situations.

After the Dynamic Drive session in Likas, we returned to Proton Edar Inanam and refuelled along the same Petronas station we visited a day before.

My Iriz 1.3 clocked some 430 km, and took in around 25 litres of petrol which translates to around six litres per 100 kilometres, making us the winner for Media category.

Overall, the other drivers got better fuel consumption figures where the best result for Saga was 5.46 L/100km, Iriz 1.3 was 5.76L/100km, and Persona was 5.83L/100km.

The winners of the East Malaysia Proton 1 Tank Adventure will be taking part in the national Proton 1 Tank Adventure in the Peninsula where participants will drive from Johor Bahru to Seberang Prai in Penang this weekend.

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