The launch of the new Proton Suprima S is supposed to prove that Proton has shown its capability to produce a world class car and design and specifications that can meet other C segment rivals from established car marques. However the moment leaked information on the Suprima specs and pricing has been unleashed on the Internet, it is actually a blowing horn in disguise, indicating the “Proton Bashing Session” has begun. Keyboard warriors has been warming up their fingers and emotions either to defend or to bash Proton’s latest creation during the launch date of August 17th.
Take a look around on motoring blogs, forums and the social media and unexpectedly, the new Suprima has met with less fanfare. In fact it was digital warfare between Proton fanboys and Proton haters. The keyboard warriors has been ferociously bashing the Suprima, from the hideous design (let’s face it, design is subjective matter), ridiculous naming (named after an adult diaper from Germany is a little distasteful), trims and equipment, engine, performance and the one that gathers the biggest complain of all (including yours truly), the steep pricing. Somehow, every ordinary Malaysians has turned into Jeremy Clarkson when a new Proton car is launched.
The launch of the new Proton Suprima has met with less fanfare
The problem is a part of your in laws, Malaysians are some of the hardest people on this planet to impress and satisfy when it comes into motoring cravings. Yes we lived in a unique country where we have to rely on cars as main mode of transportation due to the current abysmal state of public transport and our national cars are the obvious choice if you were not born with silver spoon feeding. There no need to mention about our car pricing as well, as many known, our country has the highest car prices in the world after our neighbor down south. The sadder fact for Malaysians is Proton is still struggling in their home market and internationally where Hyundai and Kia, once on the same league with Proton, has emerged as a top 5 automotive player in the world.
Back on our context, when the first generation of Proton cars were based on badge re-engineering of older Mitsubishi cars, Malaysians ranted we are copying designs and we will not be not good enough to design our own car. So Proton took the feedback from some “Pak Cik”, and few years later when Proton launched its first self-designed car with the Waja and Gen2. Still some concerned mid-thirties from Kuantan bashed the Waja has no basic safety features to protect this family from becoming the next Milo tin. To be fair on the same time period, Japanese and Korean cars on the same category were equipped with standard two air bags, ABS and EBD. Proton heard them so they added these basic safety features with additional cost, with the Waja and Gen 2 reaching RM60-70K range which is not cheap, complains of the car being too expensive for a national car came from the mouths of many Malaysians.
Believe it or not, typical Malaysians will be transformed to Jeremy Clarkson the moment Proton launches a new car
The cash rich Proton with the help of the Malaysian government has shown it’s might to the automotive world by purchasing Lotus and MV Augusta. Sure it helps the marketing side for Proton that Proton cars are engineered by Lotus and there no doubt the ride and handling department for Proton were sublime compared to their competition. Unfortunately, they have forgotten about Lotus abysmal quantity control and to add salt to Proton injury, knowing quality control is Proton’s Achilles heel which leads Proton quality woes to spiral downside. With that, all Malaysian from all races united to voice their incendiary flames of frustration towards their Proton’s broken plastics, malfunction power windows and many more. Mind you these are the complains prior the Internet and social media era comes in place.
Then some young punks on a traffic light drag race in Jalan Ampang launched their Proton like how Clarkson shouted “POWAARR” and found the underpowered Mitsubishi engines were like hamster powered. So Proton took the notch a little higher by self producing the underwhelming Campro engines. Over the time when the global oil hike crisis hit every average Malaysians, they came and unite to bash Campro engines were rather too thirsty.
During the mid noughties when Proton is losing the top spot to Perodua and losing sales from disappointments from the Savvy, Satria Neo and Gen2, Proton went back to the drawing board and understands they need to replace the aging Wira saloon. So they added a boot on the Gen 2 model and release the Persona model, which comes with basic safety features and the eye opening life time warranty on power windows. However, some keyboard warrior who watches too much Top Gear UK replied on some local automotive blogs bashed Proton for not keeping up with times as Volkswagen has already produced a turbocharged engine for mass use. Then his peers commented on some automotive forum saying two airbags is not enough and that makes Proton still a substandard car.
The new Suprima S has been launched, unleash the keyboard warriors from the 38th Royal Digital Regiment!
With all feedback obtained and millions spent, the new Preve was launched and it is Proton first global car. As you can understand the trend of this article is written, yes you guessed right, more bashing on the Preve. From the hard to pronounce name “Preve”, the underpowered and fuel sucking turbocharged engine issue are some of the few weakness every “Clarkson” from all parts of Malaysia has pointed out. Amazingly the power window issues that haunted many Proton cars were almost unheard when the Preve is launched. Also, quality issues have been reduced dramatically. Yet no a single Malaysian mentioned or praised Proton on this.
Come 2013 and now if you look back to what Malaysian wants and what Proton has delivered, you can see actually Proton is currently following global car trends by attempting to match what renowned car marques like Volkswagen, Hyundai and so on offered for their range of cars the Suprima S is offering. The thing is Proton can chose to offer a cheaper variant for the Suprima with lesser gadgets, say 2 airbags (instead of 6 on the S), key starter instead of push start button, 15 inch wheels instead of 16-17 inch offered and many more. Name it as Suprima V (value?) and perhaps it can sell at below RM70,000. But bashers will always be bashers; they will yet find a light at the end of the tunnel to find faults on the Proton.
Will the Proton Suprima S overcome the odds?
So with the constant bashing and dissatisfaction gathered from the basher’s feedback, there are a few questions pointed for them. What they can gain from all these bashing, either to become Proton vice-chairman position or perhaps to host Top Gear Malaysia TV show? Have they driven the car before? Most importantly, have they owned the Suprima S? Personally I don’t have the proper answer for these. But maybe I can answer the first one, where I had a brief test drive for 5 minutes a day after it was launched. To me, I think it is not a bad car, with great ride and handling, not underpowered, roomy interior and generous equipment list. Just that it is slightly pricey for a national car but compared to its C segment hatchback competitors it isn’t that bad. No doubt it is a better buy compared to nearest B segment cars.
After all, one meat is another man’s poison. As what great comedian Bill Cosby says, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” sums up everything. The Suprima may never able to please everyone, but honestly on hindsight I can’t be sure if this car can be successful.