Fleet News

Single-minded aim of Proton's Impian

Review

PROTON'S LPG-powered Impian has one key aim – to help drivers avoid the £5 a day congestion charge in London.

As it is LPG powered it is exempt from the charge, thus saving commuters or London-based fleet drivers a lot of money. But that is the limit of its repertoire. In all other respects it is not a car that the majority of fleets would even consider, unless it were to be used as a pool vehicle for staff entering the capital.

As we are a nation of badge snobs, the Proton name will not get drivers that excited and the looks of the Impian will hardly win it many admirers. Inside the story is much the same – cheap-looking plastics abound.

On the move things do improve and the Impian handles well (thanks to an engineering tie-up with Lotus), while the 1.6-litre engine with 115bhp is lively enough.

But then you get to the price. The Impian 1.6X on which this dual-fuel model is based costs £13,000-on-the-road. Add to that the LPG conversion cost of £2,526 plus VAT and you are over the £15,500 mark.

But the Impian qualifies for a 60% grant under the PowerShift scheme, so the actual cost of the conversion, with VAT reclaimed, is £950.

But £13,950 is still pretty steep and it looks like pretty poor value when you look at its rivals. Vauxhall will sell you a four-door Astra saloon Bi-Fuel in 1.6 Club spec for £13,500 on-the-road while Ford can offer a Focus LPG five-door hatchback in 1.8 LX guise for £15,145 on-the-road.

In the traditional pub game of car keys on the bar, Ford and Vauxhall outweigh Proton in the credibility stakes.

And this credibility also permeates through to the used car industry. The Trade is very suspicious of LPG vehicles and marks them down accordingly.

CAP estimates the Focus LPG will retain 25% of its price new after three-years/ 60,000-miles, compared with 30% for the regular petrol 1.8 LX. It's a similar story with the Vauxhall Astra. The Bi-Fuel version is predicted to retain 23% of price new while the regular petrol model in the same spec will hang on to 28%.

So you can see the trend of LPG vehicles being marked down. I would repeat this exercise for the Proton, but CAP is not quoting figures for the LPG variant. However, with the petrol Impian marked down at 24%, you can only assume the LPG version will plunge downwards towards the teens.

Model: Proton Impian 1.6X LPG
Power (bhp/rpm): 102/5,600
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 103/4,000
Max speed (mph): 116
0-62mph (sec): 12.2
Fuel consumption (mpg): 25.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): N/A
Transmission: 5-sp manual
On sale: now
Price (OTR): £13,950 (with 60% PowerShift grant)

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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