Proton Persona 1.6 Review
Proton Persona - Affordable motoring personified

17 Jan 2011

The Persona is an affordable saloon that offers a spacious cabin and boot as well as very decent ride and handling characteristics

Lotus handling

There's a saying that I've always sworn by - you pay peanuts, you get a monkey. In the automotive context, this roughly translates to you getting a lousy car if you pay little money.

This certainly isn't true in the case of the surprisingly competent Proton Persona. The Malaysian car maker's range topping four-door saloon model will certainly surpass your expectations in many areas despite its affordable price tag.

Styling wise, the Persona offers a well-proportioned three-box profile with an elegant boot line even though its looks are redesigned from the Gen.2 hatchback's, the generous rear overhang is complimented by the relatively long wheelbase while the wraparound tail lamps have a contemporary touch in the way they look. There are chrome strips on the boot lid and radiator grille to give the Persona a slightly more premium feel and look.

The Persona might not turn heads like a supercar can but at least the styling looks original and contemporary, things that sometimes can't be said of about some Korean or Chinese saloon models.

The contemporary feel and look continues on the inside with an even more spacious cabin than the Gen.2 that it is redesigned from. At the rear, passengers will have little to complain about any lack of head or knee room while the boot is gargantuan to say the least. The Persona's generous load area will be able to gobble up all the weekend's shopping in JB or the occasional spending spree at Ikea. The rear seatbacks split/fold 60/40 should even more load space is required.

Up front, the driver is greeted by a pleasantly designed driving environment with attractive instruments and the unique vertically stacked knobs for the air-conditioning. In addition, a factory fitted stereo with steering mounted remote controls by Blaupunkt is standard fit.

The 1.6-litre Campro motor generates 110bhp to endow the Persona with reasonable straight-line go while the five-speed manual transmission offers smooth shifts and a lever that glide between gates effortlessly.

The Persona's best and most impressive aspect though, is the way it rides and handles. It has been tuned by the finest chassis gurus in the world at Lotus and this shows in Persona's well-weighted controls and well-tuned suspension. The steering is especially commendable - it feels even more precise in its responses and is more communicative than in some more expensive Japanese models. The suspension feels well damped and it has the ability to impressively absorb bumps and road irregularities that get in the Persona's way.

In terms of safety, the Persona is suitably equipped with twin front airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, ABS with EBD as well as security features like an immobiliser and alarm. Other noticeable features include all round electric windows, electrically adjustable wing mirrors, rear parking sensor, factory fitted stereo and so on.

All this and more comes at a reasonable price that is lower than even that of budget saloons from China and other parts of the Far East with the latest $38k Cat A COE.


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