The Proton Gen-2 is a five-door hatchback that was brought to market in 2004 and continues to be produced to the present day. The Gen-2 uses a platform that was designed as part of collaboration between Proton and the Proton-owned British sports car manufacturer, Lotus. The model is the first Proton vehicle to utilise an engine designed in house. All Proton Gen-2 models available use the same 1.6L ‘CamPro’ (a stylised portmanteau of the words ‘Camshaft’ and ‘Profiling’) petrol engine.
The Gen-2 was designed by Australian-educated designer Damian Chia, who drew inspiration for the design of the front grille from the look of a Malay kite called a ‘wau bulan,’ coupled with the handle of the traditional Malay dagger known as a ‘kris.’ Chia also gave the Gen-2 what he has personally described as ‘tiger-like eyes,’ which were intended to give the car a commanding appearance.
Initially available in three trim levels, known as the L-line (low) M-Line (medium), and H-Line (high), these were renamed as the G, GX, and GXR respectively. The base G model was discontinued in 2011.
The appearance of the Gen-2 has changed very little in its 9-year history, but its attractive styling has aged very well. The Lotus-designed chassis creates reasonably well-balanced handling for a car of its price range, and despite criticisms about the quality of the interior trim, there is nonetheless ample room to be found within.
All Proton Gen-2 models available on the market have utilised the same 1.6L 4-cylinder 16V DOHC multi-point fuel-injected CamShaft engine with an aspirated induction system, designed with drive-by-wire technology to give it an electronic throttle control for better responsiveness.
The Gen-2 has a power output of 82kW at 6500rpm and 148Nm at 4000rpm, which allows the car to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 12 seconds. While not the quickest car on the market, the car has sufficient power for ordinary suburban driven, but it must also be said that the CamPro engine is noisy at highway speeds.
In terms of fuel economy, the Gen-2 uses 10.8L/100km in an urban environment and 6.2L/100km in an extra urban environment, using a combined 7.9L/100km, making it a fairly inexpensive car to run.
Proton is often quick to point out that much of their output is designed in conjunction with the renowned sports car manufacturer Lotus. Since Lotus is owned by the Malaysian company, this is often the case, as it is with the Gen-2. The Gen-2 clearly benefits from such consultation in terms of handling, which is impressively smooth on open roads, displaying unexpected agility. The Gen-2 is less impressive on rough, pothole-laden roads, however, upsets the quality of the ride overall. That said, the Gen-2 displays very little body roll and plenty of grip at all times.
L-Line models made from 2004 to 2009 included air-conditioning, engine immobiliser, dual airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as power steering, a CD player, and power windows in the front and rear. M-Line models added 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, and engine immobiliser. H-line models added a rear spoiler and airbags for the first row occupants.
Options included bonnet protector, remote boot release, park rear distance control, slimline weather shields, headlamp protectors, tow bar and harness, and finally, metallic paint.
Later models from 2009 add an mp3 decoder and alarm as standard, and high-end GXR models include park rear distance controls, as well as leather seats and steering wheel, and front and rear fog lamps. Also, 15-inch alloy wheels are now standard. While there is ample space from the 460L boot, there are very few compartments to facilitate easy storage.
The climate control buttons found on the lower console are well-designed, and rear distance parking sensors are very useful when reversing into tight spaces.
Competition for the Gen-2 comes from the similarly priced Honda City, Toyota VIOS, and Kia Cerato, all of which have more powerful engines, emphasising the relative lack of torque available in the Gen-2. However, the Proton Gen-2 has a room interior, well-balanced handling due to its association with Lotus, and looks that continue to age well.