Monday, August 1, 2011

Attending Proton Inspira VIP Test Drive 2011 in Malacca

I am never an automotive aficionado. But my husband is. In fact, a real big one. He reads automotive news, blogs and articles not just one time in a day but several times in a day, whenever he has the time. He also loves visiting various car showrooms, checking out the latest cars in the market and doing some test drive with the cars, if he has the chance (and permission from me, of course). *coughing* Okay, so the biblical truth is, I hate test drives. Most of the time, it bores me to sleep so I tend to refuse his invitations for car test drive.

A couple months ago, I saw a blog advertisement from Nuffnang Malaysia on Proton Exora VIP Test Drive 2011, so as a supporting (and loving) wife, I casually signed up our names for this event. Weeks later, my husband actually did get the call to attend the VIP Test Drive in Malacca. We both confirmed our attendance.

My husband was pretty excited in attending this complimentary event plus with this opportunity, he wanted to entertain his wife who often whines about boring weekend. Yep, we both could explore new things and meet people during the event plus have a brief weekend getaway in Malacca afterwards.

We reached Philea Resort and Spa, Malacca where the event was held at about 9am yesterday. When my husband discovered that there was New Proton Inspira VIP Test Drive going on at the same venue, he immediately proposed to the event organizer to move our names from Exora event to the Inspira Event. Young couple like ourselves are more interested in driving saloon cars than MPVs like Exora. In short, the organizers granted our wish to join the half-day Proton Inspira VIP Test Drive 2011!

The Ballroom where the event is held.

The event was about to start.

The organizer gathered all the 41 selected participants in the Philea Ballroom for event introduction, product features' introduction and pre-safety briefing before the actual test drive in Hang Jebat Stadium, Malacca. The event briefing was all the way led by Proton's Senior Race and Rally Driver, Mr. Ivan Khong. I didn't know that there's actually a Professional Driver job title in automotive industry whereby few of his daily tasks are to test the cars and review certain cars' performance.

About 30 minutes post the pre-briefing session, the participants were instructed to split into groups of four and pick one of the numbered Proton Inspira cars in the resort's parking lot. Then, each car, led by the  Leader Car, was supposed to drive to Hang Jebat Stadium. When heading to the Stadium, the rules of thumb were to drive the car in order (according to the number pasted in the car) and not to overtake the other participant's car, let alone the Leader's Car.

Our leader, Julian, giving instruction to each car through walkie-talkie.

 My husband chose a Black Proton Inspira. 
Our car was number 6.

Us, inside the Proton's Inspira, ready to move to Hang Jebat Stadium.
Behind us was a participant who actually works in a factory producing 
the leather products for the Proton car's interior.

Proton Inspira's interior look.

Walkie-talkie, the leader's one way communication tool, inside each participant's car.

Minutes later, all of us arrived at Hang Jebat Stadium's reserved parking lot and convened for another Test Drive briefing.

 Hang Jebat Stadium in Mallaca.

Another briefing by Mr. Ivan Khong of what to do during the Test Drive.

It never came into my mind that all the participants were supposed to test two major things with the cars during this VIP Test Drive. Unlike a usual test drive from a car showroom where the cars are taken to a straight smooth road for test drive, the main agenda of yesterday's test drive was to practice Emergency Brake and Accident Avoidance with Proton's Inspira. Mr. Ivan Khong emphasized many times for each participant to drive hard and brake hard. If we drove the car not fast enough or pressed the brake not hard enough, he wouldn't hesitate to scold us. He said he is not a sales guy but a professional car driver/tester, so it's his job to scold those who didn't test the cars properly. Also, for product comparisons, the participants were supposed to test several competitor cars and Inspira cars on the two things mentioned above.

My husband's next pick for test drive was Honda Civic.

The Honda Civic victim that my husband chose yesterday.

My first ride in the Honda Civic. 
Not knowing what would happen next, just yet.

Honda Civic's interior look.

Everything was still pretty much theoretical in my brain until I sat and buckled up in the passenger seat of that Honda Civic, waiting for my husband to practice the Emergency Brake. Only when my husband was about to drive that car at full throttle in the first traffic cone marking and press the brake as hard and sudden as he could in the next traffic cone, about 100m in front of the first marking; I came to realize what was going to happen to me. H.E.L.L. Not an adrenaline junkie, I never liked riding roller coaster nor speeding. Therefore, me experiencing emergency brakes over and over again, on purpose, I must have been insane.

After the first Emergency Brake, I almost died instantly. Apparently, there were some more to go. I demanded my husband in full force to let me get out from the car after two emergency brakes he performed. That's it. I could take any of it no more. He walked me to the resting area to join some of the Proton's crew. When the crew saw me joining them resting they all were bombarding me with questions like "Are you okay?" "Would you like something to drink?" "You look so stressed" "You could not stand the emergency brake, did you?"

Very kind of them! I smiled, nodded then kept mum.

For the next half an hour or so, I just sat there watching my husband and other participants from afar alternately enjoyed the endless emergency brake and accident avoidance practices with various cars. *wondering what's the fun of it* I had no regret being a real bench warmer yesterday. However, deep in my heart, I was really happy to see my husband looking so excited and savoring every moment he had when testing the cars yesterday. He was indeed doing his thing. After yesterday's event, I always think that if my husband ever got the job to do a professional driver like Mr. Ivan Khong and his driver staff, he might never have to work for a day anymore. He'd be just doing his passion day by day whilst earning a living.

That test drives were not the end of the event yet. Before Proton Team concluded the VIP Test Drive event, Mr. Ivan Khong offered some lucky participants (or rather, victims I say) to have a Taxi Ride with one of his professional drivers. I almost raised my hand up so he'd select me. I thought it was a literal taxi ride with one of his drivers for going back to the Philea Resort and Spa, where we parked our car there. After further learning on the Taxi Ride that Mr. Ivan Khong talked about, I felt so fortunate for doing nothing but watching during this Taxi Ride show. Never in my life I witnessed a live driving stunt like yesterday. My husband did queue for the ride though but he didn't get selected.

Enjoy the Taxi Ride video here:

Taxi Ride a.k.a Driving Stunt in Proton's new Inspira Car.

One lucky participant who rode the Taxi Ride remarked that the ride was such an adrenaline rush. He wanted to say something during the ride but his mouth just could not spit any words then.

Now let's talk about the car under the spotlight yesterday, the new Proton Inspira. I have no capacity at all in judging the car after the Test Drive event. Reason being, firstly, it's because I don't really drive (read: cannot drive properly as yet) and secondly, I didn't do the test drive personally. But here are some information I gathered during the briefing on positive features that the new Proton Inspira offers:

  • 1.8L and 2.0L engine capacity options
  • 7 Gears
  • Isofix certified, which means that this car has international standard certification for child safety seats in passenger cars
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Powerful engine - The 1.8L new Proton Inspira has about 30 horsepower more than Honda City and Vios

    The freebies we got from Proton during the event yesterday.
    A shirt, towel, pack of tissue and RM 50 worth of Petronas Gift Card.

    As a real driver and someone who is well conversant with automotive world, my husband thinks that the new Proton Inspira is really powerful and sporty car. He also deems Proton Inspira's Hari Raya promotion on 5 years of warranty and free service are to die for.

    Last but not least, here are the best parts I got to enjoy after attending the fruitful event yesterday. My husband took me to Malacca city center for a walk and we had a spicy lunch at a Nyonya Restaurant.

     Our Nyonya Lunch in Malacca.

     Taking a brief afternoon stroll at the Jonker Walk, Malacca.

    OK, OK. Happening Sunday.

    7 comments:

    1. Hi Wanderer,

      Glad to come across your site whilst looking for independent review on the Proton Inspira. After reading the article on VIP test drive, I actually ended up reading your other entries as well due to your light-hearted yet true to the core nature of writing.

      Anyway, any possibility to have your other half give his take about the Inspira and his experience doing the VIP test drive?

      Best Regards,
      eddie

      ReplyDelete
    2. Hello Eddie,

      Thank you for dropping by my blog and I am happy to learn that you enjoy my writings. I have passed your message to my husband so let's hope for him to write some reviews of the Inspira that he drove last week.

      Cheers,

      Christine

      ReplyDelete
    3. Hi Christine,

      Thanks for the swift response and for passing the msg to ur hubby. Actually, I'm keen to hear from him esp on the comparison with the other models i.e Civic.

      Anyway, keep up the great work and have a great weekend!

      Eddie

      ReplyDelete
    4. Hi Eddie,

      It's Christine's husband here. To answer your above questions, here are my personal two-cents on Inspira:

      Pros of Proton Inspira:
      • CVT just feels powerful all the time and is proven to be fuel efficient
      • Spacious car
      • Equally powerful engine capacity (BHP and Torque) with other rival cars like Altis and Civic
      • Claimed by the salesman that it uses multi-linked suspension for rear wheel that will provide better cornering and comfort experiences (as compared to torsion beam that is available in the rival cars)
      • CHEAP!
      • Generous 5 years guarantee and five years free service (super-duper bargain if you grab now)

      Cons of Proton Inspira:
      • The reason that the car is cheaper (apart from the tax and politics) than the rival cars could probably due to cheaper local designed and fabricated suspension system, lower class plastic materials for the car’s interior, local semi leather cushion and not so advanced/powerful audio system (not compatible for iPod)
      • Not so impressive car dashboard
      • Noticeable exhaust silencer drum from behind (due to re-engineered rear bumper by Proton)

      Conclusion:
      • GREAT value for money – immediate saving of RM 30k for choosing this car
      • Just spent another RM 100 to get the batch changed and you will drive a legendary rally king car (back then)
      • Performance wise, this Proton Inspira is comparable with Civic and Altis, but if you prefer comfortable and stylish car, Civic is much better. By the way, the new Civic is coming in 2012 – worth to wait for it (this if you decide to pay more for the car’s looks)

      Hope the above helps.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Haahhaaha....First & foremost, sorry to unnecessarily bring you into this Yau Kee. Hopefully you dont mind that much to share your piece of mind on the test.

      Anyway, really appreciate your concise yet frank assessment of the cars. I, my self, had tested the Inspira and I seriously think that it's one of the best cars for that price esp for the 2.0. Totally agree with you that the interiors are a bit of letdwn esp the iPod non compatibility audio system but still for me it's quite negligible. I'm seriously considering to get one soon but honestly I keep changing my mind when it comes to buying cars. :-)
      Last but not least, thanks to both of you for the great write.

      Cheers

      ~eddie~

      ReplyDelete
    6. not sure if I miss a sentence or 2, but why is there a honda civic at the proton VIP test-drive? haha..

      anyway, i went once fore proton exora - the test drive was definitely fun, something we don't always get to do on the road :P

      ReplyDelete
    7. Hi Ken,

      I think Proton wanted the participants to test competitor cars too just to find out which one is better in their opinions i.e. competitors or Proton Inspira. :-)

      Cheers,

      Christine

      ReplyDelete

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