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Proton Arena GLX

Broadcast dates : 19th February 2006
25th February 2006

The immediate attraction of the new Proton Arena light pick-up is that itís so different. It seems to have drawn its styling inspiration from the likes of the Chev Lumina SS. Old school perhaps, but pleasing on the eye.

It has some practical attributes, like heavy rubbing strips along the flanks, but lacks the step-up slot in the rear panels employed by its main rivals the Bantam and Corsa.

The top GLX model in the Arena range is fitted with a plastic load bin liner, something we are in two minds about. Great when you are loading light stuff like pot plants and television sets, but when it comes to the heavy grunge and grime of construction, they can split. And the resultant water trap could introduce the dreaded rust beetle.

As for the rest of the styling, pleasing on the eye, but there are some quality glitches. The grill and bonnet were woefully misaligned, and the tailgate was mounted with very questionable panel gaps.

Bakkies these days have more of a living-room interior than the hard plastic no-frills approach of old. Wrap around center consoles, contrasting panels, and well-formed bucket seats are part and parcel of your modern pick up. This top of the range GLX model features cloth upholstery in a rather nice texture, if slightly gaudy pattern.

One of the nicest aspects of the Proton engine is its ability to rev effortlessly. At 64 kiloWatts itís no firebrand, but it delivers its power in a vibration-free manor with none of the industrial application one might expect from a bakkie.

The big question mark is in the torque area. Itís rated at 126 Newton metres at 3000 rpm, but this seems a bit optimistic to us, at Reef altitude at any rate.

Even pulling off without a load itís sometimes left flat-footed, and with a heavy load on board Ė itís rated at 645 kilograms Ė that clutch is going to take strain pulling away.

Other than that we enjoyed the "pointy" nature of the Arena. It turns in crisply in car-like fashion and Proton stresses that Lotus, a company it owns, had at least something to do with the crispness of the handling.

In short itís a car-like ride, although Proton seem to have gone overboard on the stiffness rating on the rear springs which give a lot of un-damped kick-back over bumps when unladen.

Performance-wise it rates a claimed 13,7 second 0-100, and a top speed of 155 km/h.

The load bin measures a total of eight-hundred litres, handy if you are toting around great gobs of Styrofoam.

And the fuel tank measures 60 litres, which should give a range of 600 kilometres in normal driving.

As for all the add-on's on the top GLX model, we liked them with the exception of the roll bar.

But the extra gizmos moves the price into the R113 000 league. Good on gizmos, but for substance, weíd probably go for one of the more established competitors.

Proton Arena GLX
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 1 468 cc
  • Power: 64 kW @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque: 126 Nm @ 3000 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 13,7 seconds
  • Top speed: 155 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 10 litres/100 km (estimated) 
  • Price: R112 995

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