The Proton GEN-2 from Osborne Garage.
ROADTEST FACT FILE
Model...1.6 GSX ecoLogic automatic
Mpg (comb cycle...36.22mpg
Loaned by Osborne Garage, East Cowes
IF YOU haven’t seen a Proton for a while, ditch your preconceptions and prepare for a big surprise.
A little while ago, Proton teamed up with Lotus and this influence can now be seen in the design of Proton cars across the range.
I was deeply surprised when I borrowed the Proton GEN-2 ecoLogic from new Island main dealers Value Cars at Osborne Garage.
Not only did it look like a well-bred sports car, with its striking leather sports seats and rear spoiler, but it was a lively drive with plenty of power and it had a very clever money-saving surprise up its sleeve — it is an extremely affordable hybrid.
It is not just any old hybrid either but an intelligent petrol/LPG one, which starts on petrol but then uses the far cheaper LPG option until it runs out of gas — then it just switches automatically back to petrol.
If you would prefer it to run on petrol for any reason, just press the button — although I can see no obvious reason why you would want to.
I know what you are thinking — where can I get LPG? At the moment there are two places, at Vectawarm in Newport and Busy Bee in Ryde, but Osborne Garage is also hoping to have an LPG pump installed at its site.
LPG pumps are commonplace on the mainland, with more than 1,400 outlets.
The GEN-2 is a large five-seater car for the money and has loads of standard features, including alloy wheels, electric windows, rear parking sensors, air conditioning and a Blaupunkt audio system/CD player, which is also bluetooth ready and MP3 compatible.
Active safety comes from the precision Lotus handling, while passive safety features include airbags, enhanced side-impact protection, front and rear crumple zones and reinforced rear seats.
It also has ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, Isofix child seat restraints, childproof locks and a multi-functioning alarm with immobiliser, as standard.
The ecoLogic I drove is priced at £11,795 on the road and, as well as the dual-fuel ecoLogic, the GEN-2 is available in normal petrol hatchback and saloon versions, with prices starting from just £8,995.
Proton is currently offering a full leather interior upgrade free with any GEN-2 1.6GSX ordered.