BANGKOK: Malaysian-made Proton Savvy has been voted among Thailand's top 10 cars in 2008 by The Nationdaily's car writers.
The Savvy, priced at 469,000 baht (RM44,000), was selected along with some of the most impressive and expensive cars in the Thai market, among them the Jaguar XF, BMW 320D, Volvo S80 3.2, Mini Copper S Clubman, Honda City, Honda Jazz, Ford Focus 2.0 TDCI, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Subaru Impreza STI.
The daily said many would not consider Proton a mainstream brand in Thailand, but with the Savvy, the writers were more than impressed.
"Cheap price, good acceleration and almost go-kart-like handling (thanks to Lotus) made us fall in love with this little Malaysian thing," the daily said of the car, which is distributed by Phranakorn Auto Sales.
The list, which is prepared annually, covers a whole range of criteria, from value for money through to drivability, performance, fuel economy and sheer good looks.
Phranakorn general manager (operations), Apichart Wangsatorntanakhun, said the quality of the car was the main factor for the selection, adding that the listing augured well for Proton brand in the market and its future model launchings in Thailand.
"It's best value for money in the market, with good performance, like handling, plus economical to purchase and operate.
"You can buy a cheap car but if its performance is not good, you cannot sustain in the market," he said, when commenting on Savvy's listing in the top 10.
When Proton made its debut at end-2007 in the Thai market, dominated by the world's top manufacturers like Toyota and Honda for decades, Savvy was the cheapest car priced between 399,000 baht and 460,000 baht.
GEN 2 and Satria were launched at the same time while Persona CNG came to the market last December.
Apichart said in its first year of operation, Proton sold more than 3,000 cars, with Savvy accounting for 54 percent of the total sales.
"During the recent 25th Thailand International Motor Expo, Proton received 863 bookings, with the Persona model, fitted with preinstalled compressed natural gas (CNG), being the top model," he said.
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