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First look: Proton reveals its new Persona

Conservative: The Persona is aimed at older drivers.

Proton’s new Persona to join Gen.2 hatch

22 Aug 2007

MALAYSIAN car-maker Proton launched its new-generation Persona small car in its home market this week ahead of an expected Australian debut in February 2008.

Dispensing with the old Mitsubishi Lancer-based platform architecture that first appeared on the Wira in Australia in 1992 – later to be rebadged Persona in 1996 (before being discontinued in 2004) – the all-new Persona is built on a unique Proton platform and is essentially a sedan version of the Gen.2 hatch launched in late 2004.

The Persona is expected to cost the same as the Gen.2 hatch, which is currently $18,990 in base form, although that price may change by the launch.

Proton Cars Australia managing director John Startari told GoAuto this week that he would travel to Malaysia next week to negotiate price and equipment with the factory.

43 center imageThe Persona will use the same engine as the Gen.2, a Proton-developed 1.6-litre Campro four-cylinder with 82kW of power and 148Nm of torque. The engine should feel slightly different though, as mapping tweaks now enable maximum torque to be delivered lower in the rev range. Lower gear ratios for both the manual and automatic models should also improve the drivability of the engine.

The Persona will feature a different interior to the Gen.2, although the style will remain similar. There will be unique seat and door trims, a glovebox (which is not present on Gen.2), new instrument cluster and dashboard design, while the switches for the electric windows are located on the doors rather than the centre console.

While final specification will be confirmed at launch, Proton can confirm the car will come with dual airbags, ABS brakes, electric windows and parking sensors as standard. Electronic stability control will not be available.

At 4477mm long and 1725mm wide, the Persona is comparable in size to models like the Mazda3 sedan and has a considerable boot volume of 430 litres.

Like those rivals, the Persona sedan will be aimed at older customers who prefer the security of a boot as well as the more traditional styling.

“It will satisfy a more mature demographic, with specification and colour choices tailored to an older set of customers,” said Mr Startari.

He said the Persona should sell in similar numbers to the Gen.2 hatch.

“That said, we don’t expect to double our sales as we believe there will be some crossover from Gen.2,” he said.

Mr Startari said sales of the Gen.2 this year, which stood at 364 to the end of July, had been disappointing, but argued that the car had not been heavily promoted. “We have really been concentrating on the Savvy and Jumbuck, which are doing quite well,” he said.

Proton will increase its promotion of both the Gen.2 and the Persona when the new model arrives.

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