PROTON has finally replaced its original Persona, a car that was based on an ancient Mitsubishi platform.
In line with its fast-paced evolution, the emerging Malaysian brand has introduced a new Persona built on an all-new base with a new Proton developed and built engine.
The Persona competes against light cars such as the Holden Barina sedan and Toyota Yaris sedan on price, but is a full size larger.
It runs a 1.6-litre engine with 82kW and comes standard with some features you don’t expect at this end of the market - including alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and anti-skid brakes.
Model release date: May 2008
Based on the 1992 Mitsubishi CC Lancer sedan, the Proton Wira (renamed Persona from November 1996) had some bespoke body panels (such as the five-door liftback silhouette that was exclusive to the Malaysians) as well as the four-door sedan shape common with the Japanese car.
The commonality extended to four-cylinder petrol engines - we saw a 55kW/108Nm 1.3 with five-speed manual from 1999 to 2001 in the GLi – replacing the 66kW/126Nm 1.5 with five-speed manual or three-speed automatic, only to see the latter return from 2002 in 64kW/120Nm guise.
A 83kW/137Nm 1.6 with five-speed manual or four-speed auto was also marketed in the XLi until late 2000.
Unexciting, but economical and dependable, the Persona competed with light-cars like the Hyundai Excel/Accent, until the in-house Proton-designed Gen.2 usurped it in late 2004.
The Persona badge returned on the sedan version of that car in 2008 (tested here), before replacing the Gen.2 badge itself.