Proton Gen 2 ecologic (dual fuel) car review
- We like...A lot for a little cash
- We don't...Slow and noisy
Running your car on LPG. Liquefied petroleum gas. In theory it’s great. It’s half the price of unleaded petrol, takes you almost as far as on a gallon and pollutes less, too.
Team that with a VW Golf-sized car selling for the price of a much smaller motor. Suddenly we’re talking a real bargain, right? It depends. Proton’s now offering its Gen 2 hatchback ready converted to run on LPG. And the company’s not charging any extra over the regular car.
Now LPG can’t be found at every filling station – only one in 10 has it. And while it’s easy to replenish your tank in London and around big cities, elsewhere you’ll drive miles to find a top-up – which doesn’t make sense. The Gen 2, however, like other cars able to sip LPG, will also happily drink unleaded. You add the gas using a filler neck next to the regular fuel flap and it goes into a tank hidden under the boot floor. You switch between one fuel and the other using a small switch set between the front seats. A set of tiny LEDs next to it monitor how much LPG is left, while the regular gauge keeps a check on the unleaded.
The big question here, though, is whether the Proton makes sense to buy, leaving aside its dual-fuel magic. It’s very cheap to buy and, on paper, it looks fantastic value. Our GSX had all you’d want in a car. Clock and the car and it looks OK too – sleek panels and nicely built. Step inside and the leather trim impresses, though the red and black colour-way in ours was a trip back in time: pure 1980s GTi special.
Look around closely though and you’ll soon spot how the Gen 2 lags behind the times. Some switchgear appears 20 years old in design. And while even low-cost cars now boast cleverly moulded and textured plastics, the Proton’s are hard and flexy. There are lapses in quality, too: the LPG switch in our car was glued in place and came away as we pushed it.
It rides well and the steering and brakes are responsive and well weighted. But the motor sounds and performs the same whichever fuel you run on: it’s boomy, noisy and thrashy when you work it.
At motorway speeds the engine drones and there’s plenty of wind and tyre roar. Restful, it ain’t. And, despite its sports front seats, alloy wheels and rear spoiler, it’s slow and greedy with fuel. It may have 'eco' in its model name, but it's no planet saver.
It is at least roomy for five and has fair space for luggage.
In all, the price looks good and, if you’re moving to it from an older car, you probably won’t mind its shortcomings. You should, however, be aware that it loses value rapidly from new – faster than most other cars. That means you’ll see precious little back on it come trade-in time.
So should you buy one? If you’re sold on the fuel price and eco savings that dual fuel promises, it’s a contender. If you’re not, it’s got enough drawbacks to make you think twice.
* Grouping uses new 1-50 insurance ratings system
- Engines1.6-litre petrol/LPG
- 0-60 mph12.0secs
- Insurance groups16*
Motors.co.uk value verdict: