FULL REVIEW: Proton Waja 1.6X 4G18. Proton Impian in UK.
Model release dates: December 2001 - July 2006
I have 3 Wajas owned by relatives, 2 in Penang and 1 in KL. All were 1.6 Standard Models. I only have the chance to drive once for mere 10 minutes. It’s a 2001 Automatic model. Hence, there’s not much I can test. Based on my observations, the car’s Ride and Handling’s superb, cornering at 80km/h like rails, absorbing bumps and potholes comfortably, seats were quite comfortable. Engine’s smooth for a 4-pot, Great steering feedback. TIMELESS Design (already 8 yrs on, still looks quite good). THAT”S ALL MY COMPLIMENTS. Almost forget, the power is there, pickup’s quick and linear from start till 70km/h before it reached a flat spot, hence quite pleasent city driving. However, 120km/h onwards the car picked up again till the Maximum speed. The Waja’s stable at high speeds believe it or not as I saw lots of Wajas overtaking me at around 160km/h!
Here comes the Bad point: FIRSTLY, THE BLIND SPOT due to HIGH REAR glass & thick C-Pillar. The dashboard’s made of cheap plastic, the glovebox gap is getting bigger and difficult to close, the steering volume control button came off twice, the Aircond switch came loose, the fabric seats’ not grippy as rear passengers slide around (slightly) as I was taking corners. My Uncle’s Waja’s Power windows broke down 4 times (twice driver, 1 front passenger, 1 rear right), once, the Door handle came off. The brakes’ not quite effective (No ABS for Standard spec). THAT”S ALL the CRITICISMS. Nevertheless, I still liked the body shape, ride & handling.
WHY I decided to write about WAJA? Of all the cars why Waja?
Most importantly, I got lots of friends looking for used Waja but they can't find any detailed review of the car hence I get the ball rolling.
Secondly, it's for my own interest. I read somewhere someone bought a Waja and transplanted a Mitsubishi FTO Engine, gearbox, brakes, dashboard. Hmmm… Sounds like a good idea. Should I get a 1.8X budget RM28k, 2003 (full spec with ABS & Airbags, stiffer body), used for 1 year, then upgrade to FTO (OR Galant VR-M) engine, brakes, tiptronic gearbox, fuel tank? (RM12k budget). Ttl: RM40k, just within my budget. Or should I just buy a Perdana V6 (for 2002 RM38k) and be contented? CAN ANYONE advise me?
Why V6? Cause I was hooked to them. Recently sat in Friend's Cefiro V6 AND a Perdana V6, I simply loved the "GROWL" of the V6 engine. Hence, I told myself, next car, must buy a V6. Now I'm in a position to buy a used car to replaced my 13 yrs old car and my budget is RM40k only (at the moment).
Anyway, As I do not have a car for DETAILED TEST, I dished out a “Super test”, comprehensive test by GoAuto Australia. Note that Australian Waja 1.6X have ABS + TRACTION Control, CLIMATE CONTROL, 3 yrs, 1 MILLION km warranty with 15,000km service intervals AND 4 Airbags. PRICE: AUD25400 only (RM72,000). This shows the DOUBLE standard Proton practices. ENJOY:
PROTON is stretching things a little - well, a lot, really - when it describes the Waja medium-sized sedan as a car equal to rivals from Europe and Japan. True, it has smart outer skin and lots of features contained within. Lotus-tuned handling also impresses. But these do not give the car an automatic ticket into the big league, considering the underpowered 1.6-litre engine, lack of interior comfort and quality glitches found throughout the car. At launch, the car was also overpriced, although this has since been addressed with a $4500 price drop.
DESIGNED at Proton's Shah Alam studio in Malaysia, the Waja has adopted clean and smooth lines in an orthodox "three-box" sedan shape. Its creators have attempted to imbue both European and Japanese influences, all the while keeping aerodynamic drag - and therefore fuel consumption and wind noise - to a minimum (0.31Cd). The front end features a strong V-shaped bonnet crease that descends down to form the border for a secondary "V" with the corporate badge oozing over the five-bar chrome-bordered radiator grille. Front driving lights are included on 1.6X models. More chrome is found at the rear - on the boot lid above the number plate recess and on the exhaust tip.
Did you know?
Waja is the first car designed and built from the ground up by Proton
The Car - Seat Plan
WAJA seats five people, offering the front occupants frontal and seat-mounted side-impact airbags and seatbelt sash height adjustment, pretensioners and load limiters. All passengers are provided with three-point seatbelts, with rear seat headrests limited to the outboard positions. The centre rear position also doubles as an armrest. Storage facilities include a lidded centre console bin, a tray under the dash fascia, small bins in the front doors, lockable glovebox and two seatback pockets. Two cupholders are provided in the front compartment and two in the 1.6X's rear armrest.
The Car - Seats
THE 1.6X Waja uses leather trim on its "sports" bucket seats, which throughout the range offer 240mm of fore/aft adjustment, seat cushion angle adjustment and 120mm of front head restraint adjustment. This range-topping Waja also has lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat. All seats have three-point seatbelts with the front belts featuring a pretensioner and load-limiting device. The rear bench seat has a 60/40 split and two head restraints - the centre-rear position misses out in this regard.
The Car - Dash
THE 1.6X Waja has a two-tone dash treatment with charcoal grey across the top portion of the dash (and extending to the door panels) and lighter materials used below. Mock wood veneer inserts on the gearshift, steering wheel, doors and glovebox lend an air of prestige, together with the leather trim on seats and doors. The centre stack is sharply angled toward the driver - some would say to the exclusion of the front passenger - and a large hood sits over the instruments in front of the driver. The main cluster has conventional gauges for fuel, coolant temperature, tachometer (redline 6500rpm) and speedometer (to 240km/h).
The Car - Controls
THE 1.6X Waja driver has seat cushion angle and lumbar adjustment, and steering column height adjustment with which to get comfortable behind the wheel. That wheel has basic audio switches on it with the column stalks including a left-hand indicator and variable intermittent wipers. The right-hand side of the dash has the instrument dimmer and controls for the wing mirror, which includes a button for inward folding. Electric window switchgear is situated on the door with switches for the front and rear foglamps, hazard lights and rear demist on the centre stack. A driver's footrest, front and rear maplights, front passenger vanity mirror and internal releases for the boot and fuel access are provided.
The Car - Wheels/tyres
THE 1.6X Waja is fitted with 15 x 6.5JJ alloy wheels in a seven-spoke design and 195/55 R15 85V Goodyear Eagle NCT3 tyres. A temporary spare wheel, a jack and some basic tools are provided in the well underneath the boot floor.
The Car - Luggage
WAJA'S boot provides 1030mm in floor length to the seatbacks, extending to around 1700mm (depending on front seat position) when the 60/40 split-fold rear seat is used. Maximum boot width is 1350mm, reducing to 920mm at the narrowest point. Height to the parcel shelf is 490mm. The use of bootlid hinges instead of struts can serve to restrict luggage space and there are no luggage tie-down hooks with which to secure small items. A temporary spare wheel is located underneath the floor, as is a small storage at the back end near the seatbacks. There is no boot handle; access is made via a key or an internal release. Claimed boot capacity is 408 litres
The Car - Stand out features
THE premium pricing at launch (since dropped by up to $5000) mated with an undernourished engine will hurt Proton's chances of making Waja a success in Australia, however the vehicle has a fair dose of equipment to make it more palatable to prospective owners. All variants are fitted with four airbags, ABS brakes and traction control, for example, with 1.6X upping the ante with niceties such as leather and climate control air-conditioning. As Proton has done in the past, it has used Lotus engineering with the suspension to provide appreciable benefits in both handling and cache. (NOT FAIR!)
The Car - Climate control
AIR-CONDITIONING is fitted standard across the Waja range, with the premium 1.6X model offering an "automatic" function for air distribution and fan speed. Otherwise, the system operates in a conventional manner with three rotary dials covering the major controls. The centre fan speed dial has the air-conditioning on/off button placed conveniently on it, with a separate button used for recirculation. The rear demist control is located alongside ancillary switches such as foglights and hazards.(AGAIN, NOT FAIR, WE MALAYSIA DON”T HAVE THIS!)
The Car - Sound system
ALL Waja models are fitted with a six-speaker, single-CD Clarion AM/FM stereo system. Volume and station search can be adjusted from controls on the steering wheel or from the (neatly integrated) head unit, which is easily reached by the driver thanks to the sharply angled dash. A bee-sting aerial is mounted on the roof above the rear window.
The Car - Security
WAJA is fitted standard with an engine immobiliser and (single stage) remote central locking with an integrated alarm. Attempting to lock the vehicle with a window or door open/ajar will prompt a loud beep to warn the owner. Unlocking the doors does not bring the interior lights on and the automatic function on the driver's window applies only to opening.
THE GOOD: Handling characteristics, long standard equipment list, external appearance, interior and boot space
THE BAD: Underpowered engine, manual shift action, quality
Our Opinion (GOAUTO's opinion)
By TERRY MARTIN 23/03/2002
IT IS true that this is the most complete Proton ever built, a car constructed from the ground up on its Malaysian home soil and which at last helps the company break free from the perception that it is a builder of old-generation Mitsubishis.
But to describe the Waja medium-sized sedan - as Proton has done - as a world-class car equal to rivals from Japan and Europe is stretching the truth.
It has a degree of presence with its clean, smooth and conservative shape, made memorable with the bonnet tip oozing down over the chrome-bordered grille.
And it has a comprehensive list of features which in the "X"-rated form tested here includes cowhide on the seats and doors, climate control air-conditioning, mock timber panelling, high-grade stereo, traction control, four airbags, ABS brakes, alarm, a warranty lasting one million kilometres - we could go on like this for some time.
We must stress, however, that a smart outer skin and lots of features contained within do not give the Waja - a Malay word meaning "steely warrior" - an automatic ticket into the big league.
There is the matter of performance which, until a Renault-sourced 1.8-litre engine arrives, is limited to a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder unit producing 76kW at 6000rpm and 140Nm of torque at 2750rpm.
There are also concerns over quality and smaller but equally niggling aspects like driver comfort.
And there is the price: at launch, Waja was priced at about $28,000 for the baseline 1.6 model and $30,000 for the 1.6X. Slow sales saw the sticker dropped by up to $5000, with the entry level 1.6 now set at $22,990 and the 1.6X at $25,490, plus $1850 for the auto.
Despite the absence of a "handling by Lotus" sticker on the Waja's rump, the most positive aspects we found with the car derived from Proton's 80 per cent ownership of the renowned British sports car and engineering house.
As it has done with the Satria GTi, Lotus has again stamped its mark on what is otherwise quite an ordinary vehicle.
This is more than just marketing hype. Using MacPherson struts at the found end and a multi-link configuration at the rear, the suspension produces a firm ride that maintains excellent control and does a competent job of dispensing with road irregularities - even rough stuff dished out on crook Australian roads.
The ride never becomes harsh, suspension noise is kept in check and bodyroll is not a factor. Grip (and, at times, noise) levels, on the other hand, are high from the 195/55 tyres on 15-inch rims, though understeer refuses to emerge until the car is pushed well beyond the norm.
The steering, too, impresses with its weighting, feedback and response at speed - and we like the feel of the thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel - though some might find the steering too heavy during slower-speed driving around town.
There is no kickback through the tiller across chopped-up corners, however vibration will make its way up to the driver's hands.
With such excellent handling and a well-sorted ride, it seems criminal that the Waja owner is lumped with such an underpowered engine.
Where a humble Corolla, for example, can find 84kW per tonne in the power-to-weight stakes, the range-topping Waja tips the scales at just 64kW/tonne. Claimed acceleration from rest to 100km/h is a believable 12.2 seconds.
Sourced from Mitsubishi, the engine struggles at low and mid-range engine speeds, and though it gets a wriggle on at higher revs the noise, vibration and harshness that arrives about 5000rpm will send the driver back each and every time.
Frequent use of the standard five-speed manual gearbox will keep the Waja running with most suburban and highway traffic, but the shift action is notchy and slow, and fuel consumption increases markedly when the driver decides to stir things along.
Even as it stands now, Proton's claimed figure of 7.7 litres per 100km (combined) is unrealistic. Premium unleaded fuel is also called for at the pump.
The spacious interior features light colours, a modern design, some soft plastics across the dash and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. But the heavily angled centre console tends to exclude the front passenger, the front seats are flat and unsupportive and some of the switchgear is brittle and uninviting to use.
Higher-mounted temperature controls would have been welcome, as would steering wheel reach adjustment, cruise control, better radio reception, larger door bins, a driver's vanity mirror, less-reflective instruments and - a problem specific to our test car, we hope - dash plastics which were starting to peel off from their base.
Indeed, there were other examples of poor-fitting interior trim and a number of creaks, squeaks and rattles that emerged during our time with the car.
Rear seat space is good in all directions bar legroom and all seating positions employ a lap-sash seatbelt. Only the centre rear passenger misses out on a head restraint in a position which doubles as a pull-down armrest with integrated cupholders.
Boot space is generous and luggage capacity extendable with the 60/40 split-fold rear bench, however, the underfloor storage compartment is a clumsy design - bootlid hinges cut into the available space and the spare tyre hidden under the floor is a temporary fix.
The Waja might be the most complete Proton ever but its shortcomings force it to become just another unplaced horse in the race.
Mechanical - Plan views
LIKE all Protons, the front-wheel drive Waja employs a transversely mounted four-cylinder engine up front, driving the front wheels only.
Mechanical - Engine
A 1.8-LITRE engine is expected for Waja in the not too distant future, but for the time being the vehicle makes do with a 1.6-litre, DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder that produces 76kW at 6000rpm and 140Nm at 2750rpm. Premium unleaded fuel is required to deliver its best, which includes a claimed sprint from standstill to 100km/h of 12.2 seconds (14.6 seconds with the auto) and average fuel consumption of 6.2L/100km (6.6L/100km for the auto).
Mechanical - Suspension
WAJA suspension comprises MacPherson struts with coil springs and a stabiliser bar up front and a multi-link configuration with coil springs and stabiliser bar at the rear. The suspension was tuned by Proton subsidiary Lotus. Proton claims the driver can experience the benefits of the suspension through the following ride and handling elements: steering effort and response, linearity, straight-line handling, cornering, lane change, body control, wheel control and comfort from a smoother ride.
Mechanical - Transmission
WAJA is available with a five-speed manual transmission with single-plate dry clutch or an optional electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The manual shift was designed to offer both a relatively short throw and close ratios between gears, to deliver a sportier feel. Final drive ratio for the manual transmission is 4.052; for the automatic it is 4.042.
Did you know?
Proton cars are exported to 50 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and Latin America
Mechanical - Brakes
WAJA has four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system and traction control fitted standard across the range. Ventilated at the front and solid at the rear, the discs measure 355mm in diameter. The ABS is designed to prevent wheel lock during braking, assuring directional stability and maintenance of steering during braking. The traction system controls each wheel individually to give drivers better control of a variety of low-traction road surfaces.
Mechanical - Steering
WAJA uses a rack and pinion steering system with power assistance. Just 2.8 turns of the three-spoke steering wheel are required from lock to lock. The tiller combines a wood veneer effect with leather and contains stereo controls for volume adjustment and preset station search. The steering column adjusts for height only. The turning circle is 10.2 metres.
ALL Waja models are fitted with dual front and seat-mounted side airbags for front seat occupants. Inflation of the frontal airbags is claimed to be 0.2-0.3 seconds, with side airbags claimed to inflate within 0.12 seconds. Front occupants also benefit from the standard fitment of seatbelt pretensioners and load limiting devices. All passengers are provided with a three-point belt, however the centre rear seating position does not have a head restraint. Anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard across the range.
* Three years/1,000,000km
* Major service intervals: 15,000km
* 1.584-litre front-mounted SOHC 16-valve transverse inline four-cylinder
* Power: 76kW @ 6000rpm
* Torque: 140Nm @ 2750rpm
* Compression ratio: 10.5:1
* Bore x stroke: 76.0mm x 87.3mm
* Four-speed automatic or five-speed manual
* Front: independent by MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
* Rear: independent by multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar
* Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
* Turning circle: 10.2 metres
* Turns lock to lock: 2.8
* Length: 4460mm
* Width: 1740mm
* Height: 1420mm
* Wheelbase: 2440mm
* Front track: 1475mm
* Rear track: 1470mm
* Kerb weight: 1190kg
* Power to weight: 64kw/tonne
* Climate control air-conditioning
* Power steering
* Traction control
* Four-wheel disc brakes
* ABS brakes
* Dual front airbags
* Front side airbags
* Seatbelt pretensioners
* 15-inch alloy wheels
* Tilt-adjustable steering wheel with audio controls
* Leather trimmed sports seats
* 60/40 split-fold rear seat
* Electric windows
* Electric mirrors
* Wooden instrument panel strip
* Six-speaker CD-stereo
* Remote central locking
* Engine immobiliser, alarm
* Front and rear foglights
Tested by me in Malaysia 7.8L/100km (around RM0.16/km) (A). Tested on Manual in Australia – 6.2L/100km (RM0.12/km mixed)
Claimed Top speed: 190km/h (M), 186km/h (A)
Claimed 0-100km/h: 12.2secs (M), 14.6secs (A) [ANYONE CAN CHALLENGE THIS CLAIMED FIGURES???]
END OF REVIEW:
Thanks for reading this.
PS. The Waja scored a respectable 3 stars in the EURO NCAP. And from 2006 onwards, the Engine's no longer Mitsubishi's 4G18, instead it's "110hp CAMPRO" powered (for the 1.6). Recently, 2 months ago, Proton launched a CAMPRO CPS, a new engine with 125hp & 150Nm of Torque, an increase of 15hp and 7Nm over the Campro respectively.