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Proton's Persona to hatch a sharper Gen.2

Going: Gen.2 badge to be ditched in favour of Persona hatch in four months.

Proton will launch a ‘Persona-fied’ Gen.2 with a new name, extra kit and more oomph

8 May 2008

PROTON Cars Australia will banish its Gen.2 nameplate in September, when a facelifted version of the small hatch arrives wearing Persona badges.

More importantly for fans of the Lotus-engineered five-door, Proton will most likely offer a higher-performance version of the Persona hatch, to counteract criticism that today’s Gen.2 engine lacks low-speed responsiveness.

The standard "Persona Hatch" model will use a modified version of the current 1.6-litre CamPro twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine incorporating a new and more efficient inlet manifold design known as IAFM.

This engine’s 82kW power and 148Nm torque outputs are identical to today’s S4PH unit, but the former occurs 500rpm higher at 6500rpm, while the latter’s maximum remains steady at 4000rpm.

Buyers seeking more performance will eventually be offered the CPS (Cam Profile Switching) unit of the CamPro 1.6, employing variable-valve lift technology to provide a greater spread of torque while reducing emissions.

In this guise, power jumps up 11kW to 93kW at 6500rpm, while torque edges up just 2Nm to 150Nm at 4500rpm respectively. That’s 500Nm more than the IAFM unit.

Using CPS slashes the five-speed manual Persona hatch’s zero to 100km/h sprint-time from 11.2 to 10.6 seconds, while the four-speed auto version falls 0.3 seconds to 13.2 seconds.

While both versions of the CamPro powerplants are an in-house Proton and Lotus development, the gearboxes are based on Mitsubishi units.

43 center imageAimed directly at the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, Proton will price the base Persona Hatch 1.6 in the $18,000 region, with the CPS version appearing in the low-$20,000 market.

As with the slow-selling Satria Neo, GX and GXR nomenclature may be used to differentiate the Persona twins.

Beyond the mechanical changes, Proton has implemented the Persona Sedan’s Gen.2-based dashboard panel featuring new instrumentation, a trip computer and clock, more storage areas (including a long-overdue glovebox) and different cabin trim that extends to new door caps.

A redesign of the headlights, grille, foglights and front bumper give the game away outside, while a few fresh colours have been added to the hatch’s palate.

The Malaysian car company is also looking at offering electronic stability control and possible curtain airbags on the Persona hatch and sedan as part of a optional safety package sometime next year or during 2010.

Proton Cars Australia managing director John Startari says the former Gen.2 hatch will be the sportier model in the Persona line-up, aimed at younger buyers, while the sedan is targeting more conservative and/or family-orientated folk.

Last year saw 506 Gen.2 sales versus 609 in 2006 and 878 in 2005 (the first full year for the model in Australia), although the similarly priced Satria Neo that was introduced in early 2007 added another 203 cars, to help Proton record an overall sales result of 2336, against 2006’s volume of 2008 vehicles and 2164 in 2005.

With 844 and 780 sales, the Jumbuck utility and Savvy city car were Proton’s best-sellers respectively last year, with both delivering better results than in the year before.

Read more:

First Oz drive: Proton's sharp new Persona

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