Are manual gearboxes heading the way of the dodo? Car buyers who loved shifting gears by themselves are now facing the dilemma as the choices for new cars with a manual ‘box are getting lesser by the day. The demand for such cars today are so low that one day local manufacturers such as Proton and Perodua may drop the manual transmission option even for its most basic models. But until that bleak scenario arrives, let’s discuss one of the mid-segment cars offered with a manual gearbox – the Proton Preve Executive Manual.
The usual perception was manual transmission cars were labelled as the baseline model and that’s not an exception in this case. We have featured this as one of our buyer’s guide here and at some point this car is of the last bastions for the manual transmission cars at an affordable range of under RM60K. Whether you agree on this or not, the Preve Executive Manual somehow an underrated car even by Proton’s standards.
Being a two-year old model, I won’t elaborate much on the exterior; however interior wise, the keyless push-start button from the CFE was replaced by the standard key-based ignition. Personally I’m not a fan of Proton’s keyless push-start which looked like how the five heroes started their robotic lions in the Voltron cartoon series. The LCD touchscreen headset from the CFE Premium was replaced by Blaupunkt’s dated standard CD player unit.
That aside, the Preve Executive Manual has all the goodies the CFE sibling has, including LED lights, six airbags, ISOFIX seats, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Assist with Traction Control, and the standard ABS/EBD. Not forgetting this car scored a decent five-star ANCAP ratings, so the perception of Proton cars have the strength of a popular green beverage can is everything but history.
The CFE powertrain was replaced by the dated and tired 107bhp Campro IAFM+ engine, which seems underpowered for the car weights 1.3 tonnes. Therefore, the engine needs to be worked up by hitting the revs up to 2000rpm and above since there isn’t much torque anything below that aforementioned figures. Annoyingly, the Campro’s coarse nature means engine noise is audible to the driver. We do wish Proton would consider bringing the manual gearbox option for the Campro CFE model, but two years after the Preve made its debut, there is still no sign of it.
Thankfully, the Preve’s manual gearbox did a lot to counter the engine’s deficit. Gone with the days of the notchy Mitsubishi-sourced gearboxes or the rubbery feel from Aisin as the Getrag’s five-speed manual gearbox is a gem here. The smooth and slick gear change complemented with a light clutch mean switching gears by yourself isn’t a chore. In fact, driving it in a civilized manner and you’ll be awarded with a smooth driving experience. Not forgetting, fuel consumption is pretty decent, with 12 km/L is achievable should you drive in sedate speeds with early and smooth gearshifts.
When it comes to having fun, this is where the Preve shines as the car handles well in hard cornering with much composure; a testament of Preve’s fine chassis that brings confidence to drivers. Adding to that package includes the Hydraulic steering that gives good feedback to the driver and a fairly effective brakes.
The ride is firm yet still comfortable, an art even the Japanese couldn’t master as proven in the recent B-segment saloons the Preve is usually compared with. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of this car on Malaysia’s b-roads and you will be rewarded with some of the finest driving experience for less than RM60,000. The only thing that is short from turning the Preve into a great driving machine is perhaps a rear-wheel drivetrain. However, adding a sports clutch and some grippy tyres can turn this Preve into a decent tarmac attacking machine.
Priced at RM58,485.00 for solid and RM58,935.00 for metallic, do look around in Mudah and you can get rebates up to RM3,000 – RM5,000. This means for around a price of a 1.5 Myvi, you get yourself a practical yet fun driving saloon that rewards a driving enthusiast more than the typical Japanese B-segment saloon.
There’s a popular phrase from WildAid indicates that when the buying’s stop, the killing can too. Perhaps in this context, when the buying (cars with manual gearboxes) resumes, the killing-off can too. Cars such as this deserve your attention and support should you value driving dynamics with practicality on mind. Should that be ignored, manual gearboxes will join cassette players into the growing list of automotive irrelevance.
Proton Preve Executive Manual Specifications:
Engine: CamPro IAFM+, 1,597cc
Transmission: 5-speed manual (Getrag)
Max power: 107bhp
Max torque: 150Nm/4000
Suspension F/R: MacPherson struts / Multilink with Stabiliser Bar
Brakes F/R: Ventilated discs / Solid discs
Wheels & Tyres: 205/55 R16-Alloy
Dimensions L/W/H (mm): 4543 x 1786 x 1524
Kerb weight: 1,325kg
Fuel tank: 50L