Pro­ton back in or­bit

A small car with fives­tar safety comes from nowhere

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­guide.com.au

MALAYSIAN min­now Pro­ton re­leases its first new model in three years to­day.

The Preve small car, priced from $18,990, got a ma­jor boost this week with the award of five stars from the Aus­tralian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram— the brand’s first max­i­mum crash safety score.

Pro­ton has had no new prod­uct for three years— the bud­get brand had fewer sales last year than Porsche. Sales and mar­ket­ing gen­eral man­ager Billy Fal­coner says the Preve, a new hatch and a peo­ple mover will change that.

‘‘ The new hatch will be a five-star car. Our new cars will also come with the five-star ser­vice plan, which is a fiveyear war­ranty, five years (150,000km) road­side as­sist and five years (75,000km) free ser­vic­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘ We’re the first and only to of­fer the five years free ser­vice, which is stan­dard on the new cars,’’ Fal­coner says. AN­CAP chair­man Lauch­lan McIn­tosh says the new ve­hi­cle’s struc­ture ap­pears much im­proved over pre­vi­ous Pro­ton models.

The stars are ‘‘ a tes­ta­ment to the com­mit­ment of Pro­ton se­nior man­age­ment and its engi­neers to in­cor­po­rate high safety into their new ve­hi­cles’’.

McIn­tosh says Pro­ton used pre­vi­ously poor crash test re­sults as an in­cen­tive to im­prove the brand’s safety rat­ing for the lat­est model. ‘‘ A lot of time and ef­fort has been in­vested in im­prov­ing the de­sign and safety equip­ment of the Preve and it is re­as­sur­ing to see Pro­ton reach this mark,’’ he says.

The news wasn’t all good for Pro­ton as the new small car scored only a mar­ginal rat­ing for pedes­trian im­pact pro­tec­tion, a grow­ing fo­cus of the crash-test pro­gram. ‘‘ AN­CAP is in­creas­ing the stan­dards for pedes­trian pro­tec­tion for all star rat­ings,’’ McIn­tosh says.

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