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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The Impian is better equipped than more costly rivals, and it rides and handles well

Against The engine is weak and noisy by class standards, and cabin space is tight

Verdict It's well equipped and adequate to drive, but the lacklustre engine makes progress very slow

Go for… Manuals

Avoid… Autos

Proton Impian Saloon
  • 1. Watch out for flimsy trim, and worn plastics and switchgear on high-mileage models
  • 2. There have been immobiliser problems, particularly on the higher-spec GSX models
  • 3. The boot is a good size, and the rear seat splits and folds
  • 4. The Mitsubishi engine is well proven, and if serviced correctly, should give no problems
  • 5. There’s no reach adjustment on the steering wheel, and the driver’s seat could do with more support
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Proton Impian Saloon full review with expert trade views

Impian means 'dream come true'. And, while this mid-sized Malaysian car may not be everybody's idea of a dream set of wheels, it's certainly worth considering if you're after cheap family transport.

For a start, it’s loaded with kit. And, because Proton owns Lotus, the British sports car maker has worked on the ride and handling, so the Impian is agile and supple, with good body control and little lean.

There’s just one engine – a 102bhp 1.6-litre petrol from Mitsubishi. At 42mpg on the combined cycle, it’s frugal, but it struggles to keep up with most traffic and is too noisy when revved.

Things don't get any better inside. The trim feels cheap, and the ergonomics are poorly thought out. There’s no reach adjustment for the wheel, and the driver’s seat is short on support.

However, on the positive side, the Impian can carry five adults in reasonable comfort over long distances. The boot is a good size, too, and the rear seat splits and folds.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Cheap but dull medium-sized car with zero image. Difficult to resell unless priced low

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Impian is still on sale today as a new car, but it retains so little of its value that you’d be throwing money down the drain if you bought a new one.

On the used market, you’ve got the choice of just one engine – a 102bhp 1.6-litre petrol - and two trim levels, GLS and GSX. All models have air-con, all-round electric windows, a CD player and powered door mirrors. The range-topping GSX adds a six-CD changer and leather seats.

As for safety kit, all models have twin front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

The only option buyers may want to look out for is a four-speed automatic gearbox, but there aren’t that many used examples about. And, if you can find one, expect to pay a small premium.

We’d opt for the manual, though, because it’s a nice, neat 'box with a positive action and makes the most of the engine’s lethargic performance.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Little demand and values reflect that, GSX may tempt customers

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Impian has been on sale since 2001, and if you buy a car that’s less than three years old from a main dealer, you still get the remainder of the three-year, 60,000-mile warranty and fabulous three years’ free servicing deal, which should save you some money.

Indeed, if you’ve got your heart set on an Impian, we’d definitely recommend buying a nearly new (rather than new) model – you’ll benefit from the after-sales service and not be hit by its lousy residuals.

A used model will be pretty cheap to run. Repairs won’t cost a bomb because parts are usually cheap and it sits in insurance group 9, which is about the norm for the class. The 1.6-litre engine returns 42mpg, which is slightly more than the Impian’s two closest competitors, the Renault Laguna 1.6 and Ford Mondeo 1.6.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Cheap but dull medium-sized car with zero image. Difficult to resell unless priced low

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Proton has tried hard to give the Impian’s cabin a classy European feel, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. While the design is modern, many of the materials are hard and shiny to the touch, while the overall feel isn’t as solid as the best examples in this class.

So, when you're looking over used cars, watch out for flimsy trim, and for worn plastics and switchgear on high-mileage models.

The Mitsubishi engine, though, is well proven, and if serviced correctly, should give no cause for concern. Although Warranty Direct doesn’t list the Impian on its reliability survey, we haven’t heard of any major mechanical problems with the car. Not that you need to really worry anyway, thanks to the 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Impian’s main reliability hiccoughs, although few and far between, seem to be with the electrics. The immobiliser is the main culprit, particularly on the higher-spec GSX models.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Little demand and values reflect that, GSX may tempt customers

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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