Monday, March 13, 2017

TEST DRIVE: THE PROTON PERDANA 2.4 - Does it feel better than the Perdana 2.0 and also a 1.5liter VTEC Turbo?

The car you see in the photos herein is the Proton Perdana 2.4. I remember saying in my initial road experience with the car last August that Perdana 2.0 variant gave away very little to this 2.4liter version. Aside from 400cc, a front strut bar in the engine bay, a front spoiler with side skirts, a slightly better infotainment system and a full leather interior, the Perdana 2.0 is essentially the same and would still get you from A to B quite comfortably. Of course, to put this theory of mine to rest I tried out the Perdana 2.4 for a while.

It has been slightly over sixth months since the launch of this car and in terms of its styling, it is as fresh as ever. I like it how Proton changed the wide and bulky looks of the previous eight generation Honda Accord into something that looks sleek and sporty (The Perdana is based on the Accord). There is more than a hint of Jaguar XF (the previous generation facelifted XF) in the design. That new front end and the major rear end redesign was quite a good job in making the Perdana into a very sporty looking sedan. It may be slightly fussier in this 2.4liter form with the additional front lip, side skirts. The bad points are still those unpainted faux exhaust surrounds. It needs to be blacked out. It could do with larger diameter 18inch wheels which would also fill out the large wheel arches.

The Interior

Inside the Perdana 2.4 gets full leather seats in cream colour and a ton of fake wood trim (plastic of course – in typical Japanese D segment style) as well as some silver painted bits, which for some reason comes in about three different tones of aluminium coloured plastic. It actually looks like Proton could not get the supply of the gear lever surround silver, the infotainment surround silver, the silver strip over the glove box and the door trim silver to match.

I heard that Proton uses the same Honda vendors that supplied Honda when this car was the Honda Accord, one must wonder whether Honda itself had such terrible quality control. I suppose when it was badged a Honda no one complained about these trim colour variations. Of course, brand power does rule strongly in these parts as airbag recalls (and deaths) do not even make a dent on Honda sales.

Another complain is the handbrake lever of the car. In the previous government issue Perdana 2.0 which I tried the weighting of the gear shift lever and the hand brake felt similarly firm. On this car the ratcheting on the handbrake felt super light. I suppose this could mean that the spring adjustment in the handbrake was softer or not tight enough. A small matter but a D segment car usually means better tolerances and adjustment levels.
Both screens are now showing the accelerometer and fuel consumption readings, but you can set the lower screen to the radio/media functions

I do love the infotainment system in the Perdana 2.4. It gets more colour and a lot of goodies built into the system compared to the 2.0. The Android based system gets a GPS by Lokatoo. It has a lot of built in functions including an accelerometer for measuring acceleration and braking forces as well as fuel economy figures. So whilst you do not get a driver's trip computer on the meter cluster like most D segment cars these days, the Perdana still has some gadgetry for you to tinker with when you're bored. 

You can set the double screen system in the Perdana to view the accelerometer on the top screen and the lower screen to show the radio station you're listening too. Quite nifty and contemporary actually. Unlike the 2.0 which has a simpler setup, the 2.4 does make you feel like you're in a better car. The only slight complaint I had was that the reverse camera's brightness was set too low to be of use and it was only after a bit of fiddling that I got it work properly. 

The cream/tan coloured leather makes the cabin bright. Of course, some people do not like the cabin to be in any other colour other than black for that chic, hip look. Of course, a lot of people say that a lighter coloured cabin keeps things looking bright and airy instead of sombre and gloomy. After a week inside the 2.4, I actually like the light coloured cabin. It does feel a touch more premium with the full leather seats and brighter disposition. Personal preference though.

The Performance & Drive Experience

The Proton Perdana 2.4 is the most affordable normally aspirated, 2.4+ liter car in the market today. It is worth trying out if you feel you need an extra 30hp and 30Nm worth of torque over most 2.0liter cars including the Perdana 2.0. 178hp and 226Nm will give you a 0-100kmh time of around 9.5seconds and it will actually max out at around 210kmh. Give or take a few kilometres more. It does feel a little 'old school' in terms of power delivery. Everything is made high up in the rev range. On this point it would seem that the 2.0liter feels more modern in some ways as it feels slightly more punchy under 2,600rpm. Small matter as the extra torque makes itself felt when it comes on song.

The 2.4 will hit a maximum speed of around 210kmh. the 2.0 also gets to the same maximum speed albeit slightly longer a time. I blame this on the five speed gearbox's gearing. What the extra 400cc actually gives you is the much quicker mid-range acceleration. You can feel it when you accelerate from around 70kmh to about 160kmh. It feels quick enough to despatch puny, non turbocharged 1.5liter B segment cars who seemed curious on the performance of this Perdana. 

It is an excellent high speed cruiser. You could cruise at speeds at or above the highway speed limit in relative comfort. The interior noise at higher speeds is kept low due to newer technology tyres which Proton shod it with. If you compare it with the original Accord, the more aerodynamically sloping rear end also keeps wind noise low as well and the 2.4liter feels also slightly more longer legged than the 2.0liter Perdana – a slightly more relaxed, feel due to that extra performance coming from the engine. The 2.4liter engine and 5 speed gearbox combination actually feels meant for cruising over long distances comfortably. 

Once it is in stride, it will easily maintain a high speed cruise. I like the larger engine capacity. It offers better performance levels than the Perdana 2.0 as well as if you had a 1.5liter turbocharged engine (you know which car this is). That 1.5liter turbo would be running out of steam above 180kmh (as it still has small 1.5liter lungs) and this 2.4liter will just be huffing and puffing away right up to its maximum speed. Sometimes you cannot beat cubic capacity in terms of overall feel.

So. With the Perdana 2.4 you get more long legs to run farther and faster. But none of these is possible if the car cannot handle well. This car handles well. Of course, this is actually helped by the fact that this Perdana was based on the last ever Honda Accord that had the double wishbone front suspension setup and a multi-link rear end. This is considered the most sporting of all suspension setups. Not even the newer Hondas have this setup. It actually makes this car quite unique in many ways. 

The ride is on the firm side but road holding is very good even on undulating surfaces. There is slightly less front end lift above 180kmh compared with the Perdana 2.0. Not by much. This must be due to the additional front lip. The turn-in feels a tad bit clumsier than the lighter 2.0 due to the heavier engine up front but on its own, the car still handles quite well for such a large car. Steering is accurate at these higher speeds but it would be nice if it had more feel. 

After driving this car for over a week, I actually have no real complaints about the Proton Perdana 2.4. Aside from what was mentioned above anyway. All tiny a livable issues. It also does not feel like it is a generation behind the current D segment cars in terms of outright drive experience. In terms of equipment levels, the 2.4 feels on par with most D segment cars out there due to the better infotainment system in the car. I like how it looks. Long and low slung from many angles. This is how a sporty sedan should look like. Bar some slight overstyling (and understyling - those unpainted faux exhaust bits) here and there.

Maybe the only thing that may worry people is the lack of any form of electronic stability control (ESC). Personally, the Perdana is a very stable car at the national highway speed limit. Really stable. So easy to drive truly fast. Really fast. You'd have to be doing ridiculous figures to actually get out of shape in the Perdana. I do not think the ESC would be any help at those speeds. And of course, don't drive like an idiot in the wet too. 

Aside from that, it may be slightly down in terms of the quality of materials used in the cabin. Some competitors have already moved the game slightly further upmarket. It feels a little more plasticky than the current Accord but still within D segment standards.

But I also like the car because it is a D segment car with a 2.4liter engine for the price of a Japanese 2.0liter (or 1.5liter turbocharged) C segment car. D segment cars offer a good mix of performance, handling and refinement (comfort) that is unbeatable here in Malaysia after you add all those taxes and excise duty. Again, being a fairly large capacity normally aspirated engine, it should be relatively under stressed and very reliable in our stop and go traffic as well as on the highways (turbo cars are slightly more expensive, trust me). Of course, be prepared to pay RM736.00 for the annual road tax for the privilege. 

I still like this Perdana. Even more with the luxury of extra horsepower and torque. 

But the question is whether I would buy it over the 2.0liter or buy it over any other Japanese, Korean, European D segment car out there or buy it over that popular 1.5liter VTEC Turbo C segment car out there. 

A very tough choice actually. Considering how brand conscious Malaysian buyers are. And you also have a more affordable Perdana 2.0 with the same looks too.

In the case of the Perdana 2.0 which goes for RM113,888 before any rebates, it depends on whether I have an extra RM20,000 to play with and if you feel that you must have that extra performance numbers. But when you have an extra RM20,000 to play with you may as well end up with a brand new current generation Honda Accord (or some other Japanese equivalent) in 2.0liter form or a new Honda Civic 1.5 turbo like what everyone is doing. 

Of course, Proton currently has cash rebates for both the 2.0 and 2.4 making these cars the cheapest, most affordable, easy to maintain D segment cars in the market. I do like saving money these days especially with what people are saying about the economy. RM20,000 could buy me some nice shoes, go on a holiday or eat like a king for weeks...I mean a couple of years.

But I have to add one more thing though. This new Perdana is currently the car used by government senior officers. Buy a black or a grey one with Putrajaya or Wilayah plates and the authorities may think twice about pulling you over. This fact is quite enticing in some ways folks. 


Pros: Most Affordable 2.4/2.5liter D segment car on the market, great exterior styling, road presence, handling, ride, equipment levels are good, 4 airbags, a properly done restyle, proper long legged cruising ability, huge interior space, understressed 2.4liter normally aspirated engine should be a reliable engine for long term use. I still like this car, even more with a larger engine.

Cons: Image issues for some, overall NVH half a generation behind the class leaders, some trim bits need sprucing up, quality control may need some looking into, no ESC may be an issue for some

Conclusion: Superb looking car with D segment comfort, refinement, performance at C segment prices. A real steal.

With the earlier Perdana V6 - Brothers from different parents

List Price 
RM138,888.00 otr (ask your nearest Proton dealer for the latest promotion and rebates)

4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine
178 horsepower and 222Nm torque

5 speed automatic transmission.

Fuel consumption: 10.5liters/100km (tested)

0-100kmh: 9.5seconds

Max Speed: 210kmh+

Do head over here for thePerdana 2.0 B-road drive experience ;


 A lot of bootspace
 A lot of rear legroom
 ...even with my driving position (5'8'', chubby guy, etc etc)


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