Two petrol engines are available: a 74bhp 1.3-litre and a 110bhp 1.6-litre. Both come with a five-speed manual ’box as standard; the 1.6 has an option of an automatic gearbox. The manual 1.6 supplies enough pace for most drivers. There’s decent urge at any speed, but it is best at higher revs.
Proton-owned Lotus had a hand in developing the Gen-2’s chassis. The benefits are there in a decent drive, with suspension that strikes a good balance between ride comfort and cornering composure. Grip is good, but while the steering is quick to react to inputs, it can’t match the class leaders for feel.
Engine noise plagues the Gen-2’s cabin. There’s a constant drone around town, while even gentle throttle pressure brings with it a coarse, insistent tone. Road noise is present on most surfaces above an urban crawl and gets worse as speeds rise. Wind noise is present, but not excessive, at motorway speeds.
The Gen-2 comfortably undercuts mainstream rivals on price, but it won’t hold its value especially well, recouping less than 30% of the original list price after three years. The 1.6 engine has average fuel consumption of just under 40mpg, with all models in group 15 or 16 for insurance. The 1.3 falls into group 10.
Although the cabin’s styling is neat and modern, it is well behind the times for quality. The interior is awash with unappealing hard, shiny plastic and in many places the finish is poor. Overall build quality is similarly disappointing, while many of the controls have a flimsy, insubstantial feel. It’s too early to comment on engine reliability.
All Gen-2s have twin front airbags and anti-lock brakes, but only GSX models have side 'bags. Curtain airbags aren't available at all. Brakeforce distribution – which helps when braking on uneven surfaces – is standard, but stability control isn't available. An alarm is fitted, however deadlocks are not.
Drivers will struggle to get comfortable. All models have a height-adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat, but there’s too little travel on each and the raised driving position and low-set wheel make it hard to find the right balance. The dashboard layout is logical, but the centre console can be tricky to navigate at a glance.
There’s decent legroom in both the front and rear, but the steeply sloping roofline compromises headroom. Even those of average height sitting in the back will find their necks craning forward to avoid touching the ceiling. The boot is a decent size and shape, but the Gen-2 does without a glovebox.
Equipment on entry-level GLS cars includes air-conditioning, remote central locking, a CD player, electric front windows, alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. Stepping up to GSX adds a smarter body kit, electric door mirrors, side airbags and electric rear windows. The 1.3-litre engine is available only in GLS form.
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