Monday, July 1, 2013

Never judge a car before driving it

Cilok this from Star yesterday.. yeah, my thought exactly!

One Man's Meat

Many people have this fixation against Proton to the point that even when it comes up with something good they are not willing to give it a try.

WILL you ever get back to that ex-girlfriend who cheated on you with a butch? I did. Kind of.

Actually, what I did was worse. I broke my promise never ever to buy a Proton. I wanted to upgrade my Perodua Alza to a bigger MPV as I have an army of family and friends from Sabah who expect me to drive them around when they visit Greater Kuala Lumpur.

I asked my colleague Andrew Fernandez, who is a motoring writer, which MPV should I get. He recommended Proton Exora Bold.  Immediately, I shot down his suggestion, saying I will never ever buy a Proton. “But …,” he said. “No, I will never buy a Proton. I hate it,” I said.

Here’s a brief history of my love-hate relationship with Proton.

When I exchanged my bumpy, underpowered and claustrophobic two-door Suzuki Jimny with a Proton Wira Aeroback, my new car was a joy to drive. I was in love with it as it was faster, less bumpy and had more room than the Jimny. 

If you asked me why I had fallen out of love with the Proton, I can’t really pinpoint the reason. Perhaps it was because every few months the power window will become “powerless”. Or was it because my Wira had two accidents. Not Proton’s fault. I blame it on karma. A drunk neighbour rammed it at the back when it was parked outside my house. A few months later, my sober sister had an accident near my house. 

I began to hate driving the car. I swore never ever to buy a Proton.

I asked a motoring enthusiast why I hated the Proton.

“There are not many issues with the Proton Wira. Probably it was a combination that you were ‘forced’ to buy a Proton (because of its unfair price advantage) and it was not perfect,” he said.
“Proton has that famous power window problem. I remember covering a press conference by Proton (Group managing director Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir) and he told a story about him travelling back home in a Proton taxicab from the airport,” he said.
“The driver opened his door instead of winding down his window at a toll booth for fear that the power window mechanism would stop working due to overuse. It took Proton years to fix that power window problem.”

According to The Star’s report in October 2011, Proton Holdings Bhd finally moved to erase any doubt over defective power windows by offering a lifetime warranty for all new Proton models registered from Sept 1, 2011. Syed Zainal said Proton wanted to erase the prevailing stigma that the national car company was synonymous with failing power windows.

“It’s been going on for years and it’s still a negative perception for those who have never even driven or owned a Proton vehicle! “The power window problem was actually fixed quite a while back, around 2006 or 2007. All of our models since then have not had any (power window) problems,” said Syed Zainal.

Now back to the upgrading exercise.

The most obvious and affordable choice was a Nissan Grand Livinia. Early this year, I test-drove it. But it felt as if I was trading a medium-sized girlfriend with a medium-sized girl. I decided against trading in my Alza for a Grand Livinia. I was also not keen on a Toyota Avanza as that MPV has been around.

Last month I asked Andrew, the motoring writer, what MPV should I get since I was not interested in the Grand Livinia and Avanza.

“Proton Exora Bold. Raj owns one,” he said, and he pointed at our colleague Dorairaj Nadason, who has a column in The Star called “Why Not?”. “Many people have this fixation against Proton to the point that even when it comes up with something good they are not willing to give it a try. They should at least try the Exora and see what the car can do.”

Andrew said for the RM80,000 price you were paying, the quality of the Exora Bold ride was worth RM150,000.

“The handling is right on par with the best European MPVs. The turbo, which was introduced a year ago, completes a fun-to-drive package. In a nutshell, for a RM80,000 car, it is punching way above its class,” he said. Dorairaj raved about his new Proton Exora Bold. And I was sold. I decided to take a bold decision and test-drive the MPV.

I felt that the RM80,000 Exora was bigger and faster than my RM65,000 Alza. On that day, I called my favourite car salesman and told him to arrange to trade in my Alza for an Exora Bold.

I’ve been driving the Exora Bold for a week. My weekend drive from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore was a cruise. The 1.6 turbo-charged MPV drove like a 2.0.

My two complaints are that the gear selector lever is loose and it can’t fly. My MPV is about to reach 1,000km and I hope when I send it for servicing, Proton will fix the loose gear selector lever.

If not …

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