Proton Savvy 1.2 Style - PROTON SAVVY Car Review


Added: 01 Jun 2006
Last update:

IN English-speaking nations, the use of the word "savvy" generally refers to someone with their wits about them or a shrewd operator, which is perhaps why Savvy, the five-door city car, became the name of the latest member of Proton's UK line-up.

Since the early 1990s, the Malaysian carmaker had been using recycled Mitsubishi technology to produce affordable family transport in the likes of the Persona and MPi before, at the start of the new Millennium, Proton finally side-stepped the Malaysia-meets-Mitsubishi philosophy.

It was in 2001 that the family-sized Impian saloon introduced UK buyers to a new Proton design as opposed to the recycled Japanese technology before, in more recent times, the GEN-2 added to the Impian range line-up along with the popular Jumbuck Pick-up.

In February this year, Proton's line-up was extended with the Savvy - a move which helped the Malaysian car maker to a pleasing first quarter UK sales result of '+88per cent' over the comparable period of last year.

An achievement which prompted Simon Park, Proton's UK sales chief to  point out: "Given the comparatively small size of our dealer network in comparison with the competition, this has been a very pleasing sales period. And now we look to expand further our outlets to help cope with the Savvy joining the GEN-2 on the Motability Scheme."

In addition, Proton has already embarked upon a customer handling programme throughout its 66 UK dealers, targeting action points for further improving service performance and overall customer satisfaction in the likes of J D Power Surveys where Proton has already posted one score of 81.6 per cent in 2004.

Proton's Savvy approach has resulted in 512 models of this five-door city car gracing UK driveways to date, a success no doubt being ably assisted by the company's £1 deposit offer which continues for all Proton models until June 30.

While the Proton Savvy comes with only one engine on offer, a 1.2-litre petrol-powered 16-valver, there are two trim levels, Street and Style.

Although the Proton Savvy Street model does not include air con or electric windows and door mirrors and safety kit only includes front twin airbags, there is quite a wide range of standard equipment which features a four-speaker sound system with CD, reversing distance sensors, power assisted steering and ABS braking with electronic brakeforce distribution, all for under £6,000.

The Savvy Style which, for an extra £1,000, adds 15-inch alloys with locking wheelnuts, air con with filter, electric front windows and front fog lamps all cocooned in an attractively modern shape with more than just a hint of the latest Suzuki Swift about it.

The inside story of the Savvy is one of a city car with manoeuvrable space to cater for four adults and - while headroom in the rear may prove a little tight for some and the boot will prove perhaps more weekender than annual holiday size - the luggage bay is agreeably shaped and the rear seats do fold to leave a flat floor to extend carrying capacity.

While the depth of quality in the cabin plastics still revolves around hard-touch surfaces and the seating fabrics, while comfortable, could perhaps have been more satisfying to the feel and more ambitious in appearance, the dash and centre console are neatly laid-out in user-friendly fashion, although the yellow dials may take a bit of getting used to.

Although there is height and slide adjustment to the driver's seat, lack of  height and reach movement for the steering wheel may perhaps prove a problem.

Paired with a five-speed manual gearshift which could have been a little smoother in its operation, the 16-valve petrol power source doesn't prove to be the most willing 1.2-litre around, the 0-62mph time of just under 14 seconds proving decidedly conservative.

However, there is the promise of around 50mpg on average.

As you would expect from a company which includes Lotus in its portfolio, Proton has produced quite a neat little handler.

Although not quite bursting with this sporting life, the Savvy handles in enjoyably competent fashion and, while the steering could perhaps have been a little more communicative, the result is still a fairly comfortable small car ride. However, despite tyre noise being kept well under control, engine sound and wind intrusion can disturb ride refinement on the motorway.

However, above all else it must be remembered that this is one of the cheapest city slickers currently on the scene and with that promise of around 50mpg some quite respectable resale values can be expected.


Proton Savvy 1.2 Style 5dr

Price: £6,995

Mechanical: 75bhp, 1,149cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 13.9 secs

Combined mpg: 49.6

Insurance group: 4

CO2 emissions: 134g/km

BiK rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 6yrs anti-rust

Words: Malcolm Robertshaw