In-depth Reviews

Proton Savvy hatchback

"The Proton Savvy city car used to be good value, but the market has moved on and left it trailing the best in class."

Carbuyer Rating

1.5 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.2 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Cheap to buy
  • There’s not many about

Cons

  • Noisy, thirsty petrol engine
  • Poor build quality
  • Questionable styling

The Proton Savvy is a five-door city car that was originally launched in 2005 as a value alternative to the Fiat Panda, Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. However, the city-car class has moved on, and the latest models beat the Savvy for size, efficiency, performance and comfort. The single engine option is a 1.2-litre petrol sourced from Renault, but it’s noisy and inefficient, whether you choose manual or automatic gears. Inside, build quality is poor, passenger space is tight for four and the boot is small.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Latest rivals are more efficient

The Savvy’s 1.2-litre petrol engine comes from Renault, but it’s old and can’t compete with newer rivals for fuel efficiency. Fuel consumption of 49.6mpg is some way short of the claimed figures for the Skoda Citigo (62.8mpg) and Peugeot 107 (66.0mpg). And while some rivals are able to drop under the 100g/km barrier for free road tax, a Band E rating means the Savvy is in the same category as the 1.6 petrol Ford Focus, so tax is quite pricey.

Engines, drive & performance

Fun to drive, but gearbox is poor

The Proton Savvy was tuned by British sports car company Lotus, so it has sharp handling and excellent steering response for a city car. What’s more, the engine is quite responsive, although the notchy manual gearbox soon spoils any driving fun you’re having. The automatic is even worse.

Interior & comfort

Bumps are sent thudding through the interior

Soft suspension means the Savvy is comfortable on smooth roads, but as soon as you hit a bump, you’ll know about it. The suspension can’t absorb the shocks, so passengers feel every bump in the road. Engine noise is an issue once you reach motorway speeds, as the 1.2-litre gets louder when the revs rise.

Practicality & boot space

Rivals offer more space and more versatility

The Savvy has room for four on board, and because it’s longer than a Citroen C1, rear-seat passengers get more legroom as a result. Boot space is also better than in the C1, and the rear seats split 50:50 and fold down flat. But the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii have even better packaging and have more room inside, while the Proton’s build quality is extremely poor in comparison to those newer models.

Reliability & safety

Warranty coverage is good, safety kit less so

The Proton Savvy sells in such low numbers that it never appears in satisfaction surveys, so it’s hard to quantify how reliable it is. However, the Renault engine has been around for a while, so all of its problems should be well known by now. The Savvy is offered with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, plus RAC breakdown cover for the same period, for added peace of mind. There’s not much safety kit, as you only get two airbags and side impact bars. Electronic stability control isn’t even an optional extra.

Price, value for money & options

You can get far better cars for the same money

The Savvy is priced to match rivals such as the Peugeot 107 and Skoda Citigo, but the Proton feels cheap compared to both of its rivals. You get reversing sensors, alloy wheels, Isofix child seat attachments, air-conditioning and a Clarion stereo, but it misses out on kit such as an MP3 player connection, while electronic stability control, which is a safety essential, isn’t offered at all. And while rivals offer a variety of personalisation options, metallic paint is the only extra available on the Savvy.

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