Innovation and Improvement

Drex and Rays Proton Preve

When the Proton Tuah was introduced during the 2010 KLIMS (Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show), simply being designed by Italdesign Giugiaro made it a big hit with car enthusiasts all around. It looked good, the lines were clean, the whole package appeared to work for Proton. Never mind it was a concept car, if it was a concept, that meant the probability of it being made production was high. Sure enough 2 years later (2012) the Proton Prevé was introduced to the world as Protons first "global car".

It featured a lot of technologies not normally seen in local cars. In fact it featured loads of things not normally seen in most cars of any brand sub RM150k! Traction control disable, passenger side airbag disable, push button start, etc. Personally I find the traction control and air bag disable buttons the most interesting. Whilst being a FWD, the traction control button actually allows for some ridiculous tyre burn outs and with the punchy 20Kg-M of torque, that's plenty enough to make really long elevens! Then there's the passenger side airbag disable button - this button was ridiculed by a lot of folks, mostly uninformed and ignorant folks. Whilst it's still probably not recommended, you can opt to disable the passenger side airbag and accidentally fling your mother-in-law out of the windscreen in an accident or opt to use your child seat in the front seat which is usually never recommended because of the airbag deployment. That's a definite plus for those with kids and mother-in-laws!

That's all I care to talk about regarding the stock boring old Proton Prevé. These 2 Prevés however, are out to trick you. Keen eyed Proton Prevé owners would have noticed that these are the original headlamps and not aftermarket. Yes, the DRL lights are on in broad daylight and with the headlights off. Welcome to the world of Drex Chan from EA Autoworks. Drex has successfully managed to tweak the headlights to work exactly like the Suprima headlights where the DRLs are always on (Prevés don't have this enabled by default) and he has managed this feat without any splicing of wires or messy harnesses. In fact even a fully qualified senior Proton technician would not notice the mod. Really!

I've personally known Drex for a very long time. When he announced a few years ago on Facebook that he'd be buying a Prevé, I was keen to see what he'd do with it. Knowing him, he'd probably just tweak it to make the car more enjoyable and overall easier to live with. Nothing overly insane and always marketable. Afterall, he isn't (one of) the boss of a hugely successful accessory shop for nothing. If it doesn't make a difference to the car and isn't marketable, you won't see the mod on the shelves of EA Autoworks.

While strictly speaking this isn't a DIY, Drex collaborated with a local manufacturer to custom manufacture gas engine hood struts/lifters specfically for the Prevé. Meaning you won't find this anywhere else other than at Drex's shop. Will definitely help those who live and breathe in their engine bays on a regular basis!

This little spring dictates how long the boost stays "on" when on-load. In this particular case, the spring was uprated to reduce the boost taper of the KP-39 charger at high revolutions. An in-house innovation!

Drex successfully adapted an adjustable fuel pressure regulator into the 'returnless fueling system' (which actually has a return after the external fuel filter), to allow an increase in the fuel pressure to iron out the leaning of A/F at high boost. This isn't exactly your regular off-the-mill type of modification and neither is it one of the prettiest, but that isn't a problem since the regulator is hidden in the fuel tank area.

Both Drex and Ray participated in the on-going development of RaceChip, a PnP piggyback used mainly to increase the boost level electronically. While it's still possible to install an alternative piggyback ECU such as UniChip and all, RaceChip is developing a Prevé specific piggyback ECU which means it'll be plug-and-play for the Prevé minus the probable need to retune the engine.

The PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) system is designed to regulate and remove fumes from the engine and to reduce crankcase pressure. During the combustion process of a regular petrol engine, a small amount of "blow-by" gases escapes via the piston rings and collects in the crankcase. Some of this "blow-by" gas has oil mist, and it is recircluated into the intake which eventually clogs the throttle body and any sensor along the path. These clogs usually result in increased idling (in most cases) and a certified headache when it comes to finding out why you lost so much power over the years.

The oil catch tank (OCT) is installed between the PCV and the crankcase so it collects the oil mist and condenses the vapors while allowing the 'lighter' gases to be passed through. The Prevé has excessive amounts of blow-by, hence the OCT addition keeps the intake clean for a longer period of time. But in this particular case instead of circulating it back to the intake, it is vented into the atmosphere. It's worth noting however, in some countries venting to atmosphere is illegal so before you attempt this sort of installation, please consult your local law enforcement on the legality of the mod.

This was one mod I never quite understood. Why did the manufacturer use flexible type of hoses as the intercooler hose? It's so flexible it actually expands to a certain degree on boost causing the turbo spooling time to be significantly longer. A simple DIY of cable tying the intercooler hoses to prevent expansion reduced lag significantly! Sometime back the Prevé owners club gathered on a weekend at EA Autoworks and armed with cable ties, they did a synchronized intercooler tie-up effort. It was quite an unusual sight, some 10+ Prevés parked with their hoods up and bodies hunched over the engine bays (or standing up stretching the backs) cable tying the hoses!

The old adage "one thing leads to another, and another, and another" applies here. The Prevés was well known to have it's fair share of mysterious rattling noises. The interesting thing here is Drex discovered that the noise was caused by the transmission mounts. By inserting a length of fuel hoses and securing them with cable ties, it effectively reduced the rocking movement of the powertrain which effectively reduced the amount of force transferred to the subframe at the rear lower torsion damper which then subsequently reduced the infamous rattling dashboard sound. Talk about having to kill the whole cow for it's horns!

Ray's Prevé has a custom made ignition harness (read : DIY). This was custom made before Drex installed his TMWorks ignition harness on his car which essentially is the same thing, except the TMWorks harness installs much more stealthily and is directly plug and play. The theory behind the ignition harness is that it ensures a steady supply of voltage is provided to the coil-on-plug to ensure it sparks at its full potential, therefore providing a cleaner, more efficient combustion cycle.

The original Prevé has suspension tuned by Lotus. It sports short stroke absorbers and is generally quite firm but not uncomfortable. Drex's Prevé uses stock suspension but Ray opted for BC Racing coilovers for complete adjustability.

Some of you may remember the time Malaysia was flooded beyond belief due to some Hurricane winds affecting our shores. Open air car parks were submerged in 5 feet high murky water, basement carparks were flooded effectively destroying hundreds of cars and so on. The Prevé has a weakness against water and flooded areas. The gearbox breather hose is located in an unusual location and should you drive across a flooded road it may inadvertantly suck in water and destroy the sensitive step CVT gearbox. What Drex has done is relocate and lengthened the breather hose to make it less water prone. Very clever little mod! Can you spot the breather hose?

There are too many mods to cover in one article. Drex has made sure that if I were to really cover everything, I'd need to run 2 write-ups to feature everything. But as you can see in the pictures above, all of these DIY mods or 'innovations' (as Drex calls them) enhance the drivability of the car and since no one else seems to care (Proton, what are you doing??), I'm glad we have people like Drex around to make our lives that little bit easier should we choose to own a Proton Prevé or Suprima.

- Izso

The Heart: 2 similar but different cars
1.6 L CamPro CFE DOHC I4 Turbo engine
DIY / T.M Works Ignition harness
Works Oil Catch Tank
Works Fuel Pressure Regulator
Custom 'boost spring'
RacingChip Piggyback ECU
Cabletie reinforced intercooler pipe

Stock Step CVT gearbox
Extended length relocated breather hose

Suspension and Brakes
Proton Exora calipers
Cable tied reinforced brake hoses
Custom reinforced transmission mounts
BR Racing coilovers

Original Proton Suprima rims

Custom manufacturer engine hood strut/lifter
Custom DRL enabled original headlamps

Electronic throttle controller
Custom seat belt anti-chaffing guard
Custom boot boarded LED cover
Custom ERL doorcard garnish