Just shortly after Proton released a teaser image of the all-new Proton Persona, the national carmaker invited a group of journalists to an exclusive preview of the company’s next B-Segment car. In hindsight, the first-generation Persona was introduced a decade ago in 2006, but is the new Persona a little too late to the party?
Well, one thing’s for sure, the Persona certainly has big shoes to fill. And to kick things off, the Persona shares the same platform as the Proton Iriz. At first glance, the Persona bears a strikingly similar face to the Iriz. It’s a far departure from the older model, but this relatively narrow-bodied sedan will undoubtedly take some time to grow on us. First off, let’s see some of the standard features that will be fitted across the entire Persona lineup.
|Reflector Headlights||Chrome Grille||Body-mounted Side Mirrors with Integrated Signal Indicators|
|15-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 185/55 series tyres||Rear Fog Lamps||Horizontal Chrome Bar along the tailgate|
|Reverse Parking Sensors||Anti-lock Braking System||Electronic Brake-force Distribution|
|Vehicle Stability Control||510-litre boot space||Two-tone interior|
|Front Disc Brakes||Rear Drum Brakes||Single-zone Climate Controls|
This time, the entire range is fitted with essential safety features such as ABS and VSC. There will be four variants on offer – Standard (MT and AT), Executive (AT), Premium (AT) and Premium SE (AT). All Persona will get the sole 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing technology, one that is 10 percent more fuel efficient than the old Campro mill (13 percent better for the manual). A choice of five-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) can be specified, although the manual can only be had with the entry-level Standard variant.
Mechanically, the Persona is almost identical to the Iriz. They share the same 107 hp (at 5,750 rpm), 150 Nm (at 4,000 rpm) engine, but it now has just three mounting points instead of four. According to Proton engineers, this improves refinement. Also updated is the clutch-type CVT – yes, it’s still the same Punch drivetrain, but thanks to recalibration of the TCU and ECU, it’s less noisy and accelerates marginally better.
Everything rearward of the B-pillars is reworked, but the extra length and boot space is achieved without as much as extending the Iriz’s 2,555mm wheelbase. Speaking of boot space, it’s merely 2 litres more in volume than the Perodua Bezza, but Proton’s execution in designing a more usable room merits some applause. We say that because unlike the Bezza’s tall and shallow boot space, the Persona’s boot goes deeper, which should be more convenient for organising goods.
In our brief test drive, cabin insulation and NVH levels scored high. Wind noise barely crept in even when driving at 140km/h, but at those speeds the engine and CVT noises became all the more apparent. Stopping power is managed by a pair of ventilated discs up front and drums for the rear wheels. This is standard across all variants. Be that as it may, Proton claims that the new Persona would come to a complete stop from 100km/h in a distance of 41.4 metres, down from the previous Persona’s 44.6 metre mark. Conversely, the nought to 100km/h sprint is achieved in 10.9 seconds, nearly a second quicker than the old Persona.
All four variants can be had in six different exterior colours – Red, Brown, Black, White, Silver and Grey. Pricing remains a trade secret for now, but Proton has just opened the order books for early adopters. The all-new Proton Persona will be launched on 23 August 2016, and all purchases made between the launch date till end-September will come with a 3-Year free service, inclusive of parts and labour. Proton CEO Dato’ Ahmad Fuaad Kenali says this is initiative is to reward customers, and comes as a promotional package for purchases made within the Merdeka month.