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New models - Proton - Savvy

First drive: Slick Savvy puts Proton on the map

Taste bud: Lotus-tweaked handling and high specification levels should tempt buyers to well-priced Savvy.

It’s not quite a Lotus flower, but Proton’s new Savvy micro has big credentials

17 Mar 2006

PROTON has launched a big salvo across the bows of the light-car market with the arrival of its well-equipped $13,990 Savvy hatch.

On sale from April 3, the 1.2-litre Savvy ups the ante in the light-car class with equipment levels rivalling more expensive small cars.

Standard features include air-conditioning, dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes (with electronic brake-force distribution), front seatbelt pretensioners, parking sensors, an alarm, a four-speaker CD stereo, central locking, electric front windows, 15-inch alloy wheels and front foglights.

The five-door hatch also has a 50/50 split-fold rear seat that lifts luggage capacity from 207 (seats up) to 909 litres.

Suspension is via MacPherson struts up front with a semi-independent torsion beam axle at the rear. The brakes include front discs and rear drums.

Power comes from a Renault-sourced 1.2-litre 16-valve engine mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or five-speed clutchless automated manual.

The engine develops 55kW at 5500rpm and 105Nm at 4250rpm, with 90 per cent of torque available between 1750rpm and 4250rpm.

Considering the car has a kerb weight of just 953kg – about 100kg lighter than its competitors – the engine delivers decent performance and impressive fuel economy of 4.6L/100km on the highway for the five-speed manual, giving a cruising range of up to 900km from its 40-litre fuel tank.

Proton also claims the Savvy will hit 100km/h in 12.6 seconds and has a top speed of 175km/h.

43 center imageAt 3710mm long, 1643mm wide and sitting on a 2395mm wheelbase, the Savvy is one of the babies of the light-car class. By comparison, a Barina three-door is 170mm longer, 27mm wider and sits on an 85mm-longer wheelbase.

Visually the Savvy adopts the new Proton "family" look from the Gen.2, while the clamshell-style bonnet, strong grille, and quirky kink in the front door at shoulder level give it a distinctive small-car look.

Proton Cars Australia managing director John Startari said the Savvy would provide a fillip to Proton’s identity with its strong styling and performance cues.

"This establishes originality and allows us to build greater brand presence globally," he said.

Confidence with the car’s in-house design also meant that Proton was in a position to design and engineer its own cars.

"You can expect a more radical approach, which will see Proton do things in new and unexpected ways," said Mr Startari.

Proton’s national sales and marketing manager Steven Thomas said the Savvy’s lightweight and clever design reflected its Lotus heritage.

"The design ideology from the start of the project was to produce a small car that offers practicality, fuel economy, generous space and great all-round performance," he said. "It’s not a sportscar, nor does it look like a Lotus, but its DNA is very clearly linked to the famous sportscar-maker whose very ethos is performance through light weight."To achieve these goals Proton had to engineer a new, stronger and more rigid platform. As a result Proton claims the Savvy offers superior handling, balance and responsiveness with a strong power-to-weight ratio.

Lotus styling also reportedly influenced the vehicle’s sleek and stylish exterior, projecting a "young, spirited and energetic car".

The Savvy is part of the company’s ongoing rollout of new-generation vehicles that will include the new three-door Satria, Satria GTi and a crossover 4WD wagon.

"While it will have broad appeal for its low entry price, strong equipment levels, looks, performance and economy, our research suggests that up to 40 per cent of Savvy sales will be to women aged 18 to 29," Mr Thomas said.

In its quest for higher quality, the Savvy is also the first Proton to roll off the production line with certification by TUV Rheinland Group, the internationally renowned global leader in compliance engineering, testing and quality registration services.

Proton Cars Australia has modest sales expectations for Savvy, expecting just 100 sales a month.

2006 Proton Savvy pricing:

Savvy - $13,990
Savvy (a) - $14,990

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