Proton Inspira, ready to brawl

Published on November 3rd, 2010

I feel inspired talking about the Inspira so this is my inspiration on the Inspira. That’s probably one of the most obvious introduction to any articles regarding the Inspira, and I’m sure many of you would have thought about this introduction before beginning to write, and it is oh-so-cliché, isn’t it?

Cliché. Rebadging a Mitsubishi Lancer to the Inspira is definitely one of the most cliché things Proton could do, and as Zerotohundred.com put it, a topic for forum bashing and parliamentary debates. Some would say Proton is going backward with that move, and that someone is obviously doesn’t know his way around the wonderful world of motoring.

I’m sure by now my happy readers would have read many articles regarding Proton’s move in rebadging the bloody Lancer, and have probably watched the Hitler clip on the Inspira too, so I won’t bore you with more info on the same topic, apart from there is a definite plan  for at least two original cars by Proton which will be announced either late 2011 or early 2012, and one of them is a sedan, and the Inspira is placed right in the middle of two product introductions so it will save Proton some face and give the crowd something else to talk about other than Proton’s inactivity.

Yes, imagine the Inspira is never introduced. Proton will be seen as being inactive for at least two years after the Exora was introduced, and that is bad for public image. What can Proton do that uses little resource but able to generate some interest in the brand at the same time, as well as allocating some extra time for Proton to manufacture something completely original?

Obvious, isn’t it?

The Inspira is built here, not some Japanese models being replaced with a few Proton parts and slapped with ‘Made in Malaysia-lah’ sticker. MIVEC head is used on top of the 4B10 (1.8L) and 4B11 (2.0L) block, and it provides awesome power at very smooth power bends all the way to 210km/h (for the manual tranny).

Manual is definitely more fun, but I had the CVT tranny to test. Sitting on the passenger seat on the first run was a blessing compared to my Satria. Seat is comfortable, and it absorbs your body into its cushion to allow some definitive grip that’ll stop you from sitting on the driver at the end of the drive.

Air noise is common when you passed the century mark, but it becomes quite obvious when reaching the top speed (all in very strictly controlled environment err, of course).

I was quite sceptical when I was told that it was my turn to drive, but decided to swallow it all in. Truth be told, I had an interesting incident with the Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0GT and was not keen on replaying that skip-a-heartbeat incident. But the engineer riding with us told me to slam the pedal and enjoy the ride.

I first apologised to the occupants before shifting to D, and they said they don’t mind.

So I slammed the pedal.

The result? I actually screamed in the car. Going through Karak at 194km/h was superb, with the tyres (16-inchers with 65 tyres) providing enough grips and the suspension holding the car up so smoothly and steadily, the engineer sitting behind us was laughing while drinking his mineral water, and not a drop spilled!

High speed cornering was fantastic, with just a little bit of doubt whether the car would slide and hit the wall or not. Gone was the nervous tail from the Lancer, as well as the annoying body rolling which gave me a fright before. I actually had fun zig-zagging at high speed with my occupants laughing and drinking merrily. If only they looked at the speedometer and heard what Ivan Khong, our marshal, was saying at the walkie talkie.

I had actually caught up with Ivan because I wanted to be one of the first cars to enter the Bentong road, as the road is our usual Touge road with Oreedo, Ariel, Apiz, and the rest of the touge gangs. As I was quite familiar with the condition of the road and the multiple hairpin corners, I had a vague idea of how the corners should be taken and with Ivan giving indications of possible oncoming traffic; made it easier going through the road with the right approach.

I pushed the Inspira as hard as I could, even taking it through a condition of which a normal car would definitely ended up kissing the bottom of the ravine. Thanks to the 65-series tires, controlling the car through under-steer conditions were bliss. Actually, we didn’t even feel the car went under-steering as the car exit through corners as if the car had fifteen wheels.

Oversteering is a thing of the past, and I almost pulled the handbrake to make the car slide, but the engineer, Mr Farizal, would have whacked my head if I actually did that.

The CVT transmission is not like the usual Proton A/T tranny which will give a noticeable lag when switching gears. Downshifting at over-redline revving will trigger a two-beep warning and will not downshift until the revving goes below maximum, which is good for the engine but a little scary when approaching corners at a speed beyond comfortable. The switching is quick and the lag is barely noticeable. Change the gear at above 6000rpm and you’ll be in the right powerband of the MIVEC to enjoy fast acceleration, although you will not feel the G-force sucking you in.

Slam the pedal hard enough, reach high enough gears, and you’ll go pale looking at the speedometer suddenly showing near 200km/h. That’s how smooth the engine is.

It was an interesting touge session and the only thing I thought lacking was the short session through the twisties. The Inspira is a fantastic car for touge and highway cruising, and we say if the car handles like a dream going 194km/h on the twisting highway, it’ll be one of the best handling car you can own if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t go above 120km/h.

Farizal gave us fantastic review on what the engineers (Syammim, Farul and him) did to the car. They said that if it were up to them, they’d have made the suspension a little stiffer, which would’ve been more fantastic for us but it’ll become less comfortable to normal drivers. They managed to remove the tail-happy characteristic of the Lancer and made sure the Inspira handles better than the Lancer, all done by Proton engineers.

Proton engineers had some intensive training from Lotus and from now onwards will be doing their own R&D on all their future cars. I say with the improvement they did with the Inspira, go all the way bro!

Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin did comment a thing or two regarding the collaboration with Mitsubishi. He said that technology sharing is on the table, with possibility of AWD technology being incorporated in Proton vehicles, but that will go against Proton’s effort on concentrating towards green engine and eco-friendly vehicles. Proton is going towards mass market, and sportscar is not one of the best ways to do it, but it’s definitely on the table.

“We do not waste 25 years of capability by taking other manufacturer’s technology, improving and reusing them. This is much more than OEM collaborations. We are not here just to build cars, but to meet strong demand in quality, which is why the Inspira is actually better in quality comparing to the Japan-built vehicle.

“R3 will be revived, and they have their own plans for the car. As of now, Mitsubishi is providing technical help and quality control to ensure the Inspira meets their demand, and we exceeded that. The Inspira’s handling is solely Proton’s R&D,” explained Datuk Syed Zainal.

The car is said to be priced at RM79K for the manual 1.8 version, tentatively. It means, usually, the price will go down a little more. Well, hopefully.

We’ll definitely be requesting a test car once the car is launched, and hopefully Proton will be kind enough to provide us with one. This is one fun car, and we look forward to see what more can the Inspira do.

words: Al-mu Syahrisyawal Ahmad  pix: Syafril Ismail

Comments

  1. Posted by Tekno on November 3rd, 2010, 15:02

    Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood review!!!

  2. Posted by ariel on November 4th, 2010, 00:37

    …need to place a booking lah for this Inspira…nice car indeed!

  3. Posted by Proton Inspira Club on November 4th, 2010, 12:11

    Nice review you have there,for who already book or plan to book inspira can join our club at http://www.inspiraclub.com hope can know more inspira friend on this coming day..

  4. Posted by Vic on November 4th, 2010, 13:18

    can I use share you review with other ?

    thank you.

    Vic

  5. Posted by Traffic Mag on November 4th, 2010, 14:23

    sure thing vic, go ahead. it’s a pleasure.

  6. Posted by Traffic Mag on November 4th, 2010, 14:25

    thank you. we would have been the first to join if proton is kind enough to give us one for free… 😛

  7. Posted by Joseph on November 11th, 2010, 17:09

    They say the truth is in the pudding. Saw the car today after the official launch yesterday and I was immediately reminded of cheapness when I stepped into the 1.8L Auto car. The Mitsubish interior parts have been replaced with obviously cheaper parts and the seats were not comfortable at all. I was reminded of the feeling I experienced when I stepped into a Proton Waja, and it was not a psychological things. The parts did look poor in quality.

    As far as the exterior is concerned, it looks old fashioned and certainly looks inappropriate for a performance car. Truth be told, the Inspira’s design is several classes lower compared to that of the Lancer GT.

    As for quality, well it is questionable. If the car’s quality was to be judged based on Proton’s past performance, I would have much prefered Proton just assembling the car rather than including local parts and/or redesigning. The car might handle better for now, but the real question is for how long more before a repair / replacement is needed. Well, I am certainly not inspired after actually viewing the new Proton car.

  8. Posted by masdiyana on November 25th, 2010, 13:57

    Hey! thanxs for the great review, im sure my husband will be excited to test it out @ Karak high-way soon :) Cheers!

  9. Posted by loopy on November 25th, 2010, 21:42

    without the government proton will fail!

  10. Posted by Traffic Mag on December 9th, 2010, 16:49

    most probably… but without proton, it would be years until the majority of malaysians can afford their own car.

  11. Posted by Jeff on February 12th, 2011, 19:12

    Proton will always be Proton. Even with the Japanese based in the plant it did nothing to their quality. I just took delivery of an Inspira 2.0 and it was the same disappointment as when I took deliver of my last Proton,a Perdana 15 years ago. It has dents on the paintwork and scratches & cut marks on the trim. I told myself never to buy a Proton back then and I should have kept that promise!

  12. Posted by Traffic Mag on February 12th, 2011, 20:22

    easy. quality has to take a back seat to make it affordable to the masses.

  13. Posted by Jeff on February 14th, 2011, 20:12

    Affordability does not mean poor quality! That is just poor excuses as Perodua is proof to that. I owned a first batch Myvi before which I traded in for the Inspira. I had a good five years with that car and I love it!

  14. Posted by Traffic Mag on February 16th, 2011, 12:13

    i’m not giving an excuse on behalf of proton as i have no right to do so… what i was doing was just stating my opinion on that very matter. to each their own perception and taste. ’nuff said.

  15. Posted by lol traffic mag on June 27th, 2011, 15:49

    “Posted by Traffic Mag on December 9th, 2010, 16:49
    most probably… but without proton, it would be years until the majority of malaysians can afford their own car.”

    holy shit this is the most shallow comment i’ve seen from a automotive website for years. you should do some research before saying something like this. without proton and the absurd tax for imported cars meant to protect proton EVERYONE would be zooming around in mazdas, hondas name-your-make instead of STRUGGLING to buy a car.

  16. Posted by Traffic Mag on June 28th, 2011, 12:38

    i beg to differ as without the absurd tax malaysia would not be a fast developing country as we are today. it is but one of the contributing factors of malaysia’s development. cars are cheap in japan as they’ve been in the industry for around 100 years. the japanese automotive industry gets their support from the germans back in world war 2 and the technology transfer makes it is easier for them. what the japanese lost in tax they make up on the hefty parking charges and fuel. it’s the same with the europeans. fuel charges in japan minimum is RM4.00 per liter whilst the euro countries is around 7EURO so you do the math.

    “EVERYONE would be zooming around in mazdas, hondas name-your-make instead of STRUGGLING to buy a car.” – each malaysian home have at least three cars parking and our traffic congestion are getting as worst as in bangkok. it’s just my two cents but i’d rather have cheaper fuel instead of cheaper cars as you need to fuel up every now and then. cars on the road are increasing like mad so you tell me, who’s struggling? you?

  17. Posted by lol traffic mag on June 30th, 2011, 10:37

    malaysia is a fast developing country in terms of building more leaking building and more palaces. Proton simply isnt improving fast enough, granted, i am a fan of inspira myself. Look at how much kia and hyundai have improved in just a short few years compared to proton?
    Before you talk about fuel in europe, you should know that i’ve been living in germany for the past 5 years. Fuel doesnt cost anywhere near 2 euros a litre — a very reaasonable amount as germany is not a fuel producing country and relative to income, its very cheap. so before you spew more crap, do some research and stop biasing.

    each malaysian home as 3 tin can cars parking with no safety feature instead of those semi decent ones equipped AT LEAST with basic standard feature like airbags and ABS.

  18. Posted by Traffic Mag on July 1st, 2011, 17:12

    Kia, the oldest automotive company in Korea was established back in the mid of 1940 while Hyundai in 1967, more than 40 years before Proton was established and you want to compare it with Proton? When i said about fuel price in Europe, India, China SEA countries and Japan, it’s because i experienced it during my time with Petronas Adventure Team and got the opportunity to traverse more than 40 countries in the process. though it’s cheap compared to income, it’s not as cheap as Malaysia. And since you think it’s cheap in Germany you should just stay there instead of living in Malaysia. It’s as simple as this, if you hate Proton just buy other makes instead of bickering here.

  19. Posted by lolling head traffic mage on July 5th, 2011, 04:16

    c’mon now my namesake, at least try to get your facts right. KIA got into the car market in ’74 and what’s with this childish ‘stay elsewhere but not Malaysia’ huh? just what did you while traipsing around ’40 countries’ .. lolling yore mage haid?

  20. Posted by lalla on November 20th, 2011, 14:14

    i love this car. i used to be a basher, but now its rm46k cheaper than civic, and i’m sure its not 46k better.

    this is a very under estimated car.

    good, because i dont need to compete with the others to get the car.

    there is no other car that can match this car below 100k.

    handling and the quality. look at the seat. leather seat, and the steering.

    before this i had my eyes on civic and 308thp. lets just say, its just a lancer without the badge. and, maybe some funny suspension and rim/tyre combo. but, this is a good car, better than the fiesta at the same price range.

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