Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mark Webber drives the Proton Savvy

After reading this review that I picked up from The Telegraph, I am of the opinion that Mark Webber will not be one of the six drivers shortlisted to drive 1Malaysia F1 car for the next F1 season. Read on Datuk Nadzmi Salleh.....

He took in the car's fine lines, the first Proton to be entirely designed in-house by the Malaysian manufacturer.

"Fair play, they've made a bit of an effort, although that spoiler's about as useful as a veggie burger. And that," he shouted, pointing at the central exhaust, "looks like a drinking straw."

Head and legroom were ample in the front but the sloping roof has a significant effect on the rear accommodation. "I wouldn't fancy sitting there," Mark said, nodding at the back seat.

So began the commentary: "Plenty of seat adjustment, but none on the steering wheel and I can't see those sporty dials. Not a disaster though, eh? We can't break the speed limit in this puppy," he grinned. "Man, that's a loose gearbox. First gear is somewhere in Oxfordshire."

When a car costs £7,995 you don't expect a walnut and leather interior, but the Savvy's plastic felt insubstantial and the overall quality got Mark's goat: "Look at that boot on the wing mirror adjuster," he said, pulling at the poorly fitted rubber cover. For a man used to F1 standards of preparation, exposed screw heads and flimsy trim don't cut it.

The engine whined as Mark nailed the revs into the red, although the noise was pretty much the only change. "I'm through the floor, mate," he said. "She's coming good though." Mark recommends ear plugs and a good book while the Savvy gets up to speed, but it did pretty well with us and a cameraman aboard. Mark wasn't as sympathetic. "You wouldn't want to do a long journey in this, eh?"

I defended the Savvy. "You've started 134 grands prix and this little car would have beaten you in 46 of them. There'd be a stereo, air-conditioning and no need to pit during the race."

Mark smiled. "You're right, I wouldn't have been slammed by Kubica [at Monza] – I'd still have been on the start/finish straight."

It certainly stopped better than it went; Mark reckoned it handled more like a boat than a car. Thailand's national newspaper ranked the Savvy in its top 10 cars, praising its kart-like handling. I mention this to Mark. "Shopping cart," he snorted.