Cute is an adjective I’ve outgrown but is the first word that flashed in my head when I saw the bull-nosed Savvy Style. It’s just under 4m in length and outgrows the new Fiat 500 by 16cms. Tiny 15 inch alloy wheels are mounted on each corner and should provide the ideal solution to city parking and manoeuvrability. Size aside, it’s fitted as standard with rear parking sensors and power-assisted steering that unfortunately doesn‘t adjust for reach or rake. I had my only experience of being bullied when a Toyota estate forced itself in front of me at traffic lights by gradually cutting in, brake lights on/ off which I reluctantly resigned myself to. It’s never occurred to me before…and hasn’t happened since so my only assumption was that it was because I was driving… a Savvy.
A 1.2 litre engine, breathing through 16 valves propels the Savvy from 0 to 62mph in a smidge under 14 seconds registering 30,000 rpm on the rev counter, but it feels strained above this on the motorway and makes for a noisy, laborious drive. The gearchange seems agricultural and feels stiff although this would hopefully loosen up with time and I’m reassured by the 6 year/100,000 mile warranty that covers it and the engine. Also, my hand hit the passenger seat when far forward as I selected reverse and you age as you wait for the boot to open as the gas cylinders are too weak. Still, those bright yellow dials focus your gaze ahead as you realise that a bar display replaces the usual fuel gauge. I was disappointed with the fuel economy as I calculated 42mpg over A roads and motorways that included exhausting the fuel ‘on reserve’, below Proton’s claim of 49.6. The Savvy’s an entertaining drive in the city though, with a slightly wider front track and has enough agility to clamber around the urban jungle.
“Personnel from Lotus are closely involved in Proton’s new model development…” as Proton bought Lotus in 2003. Not close enough in involvement is my opinion as the Savvy hasn’t defined itself enough to secure a niche in the highly competitive city car sector. It needs refinement and more cheeky appeal to survive. So, in reply to that definition, just about but not enough.
All words are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou
Images are copyright of Proton Press Office