Proton is Malaysia’s pioneer car manufacturer which has produced a number of cars for the domestic and international markets since the 80’s. The Persona is a model which was first launched in 2007, and the sampled model is a recent one which is equipped with the new Campro IAFM (Intake Air-Fuel Module) engine.

At a glance the Proton Persona bears a striking resemblance to the Gen 2 model which was released in 2004. Both share the same design lines but upon closer inspection you will notice that the Persona is more like a sedan with a larger boot space compared to the Gen 2 which is more like a hatchback.


My first drive with the Persona was about 2 months ago in a 1.6L Base Line model with automatic transmission. I recalled that the car had good handling with accurate steering and was quite easy to steer. The engine was rev friendly and gave its best when driven hard. However, the brakes were not entirely convincing.

The present sampled model is a 2 month old 1.6L Medium Line with manual transmission (5 Speed). For the Malaysian market Proton offers 3 lines for the Persona, ie the Base Line, Medium Line and High Line models. The difference between the Medium Line and High Line is that the latter comes with ABS, EBD and twin airbags at the front while the former has only comes with driver’s side air bag. The Base Line is very basic and lacks these features.


Step inside the car and you will notice that there is adequate leg room for driver and passengers. The seats are comfortable and a bit on the soft side. The dashboard has a logical layout. The steering wheel gives adequate grip but its grip and appearance can be improved by adding a bit more mass on the rim.


My initial test run with the car involved driving 4 passengers. The gear shift lever was quite stiff which took me by surprise and quite unlike the other manual transmission Protons which I had driven. While it does give an assurance of quality it may be a bit too stiff for some. One unusual discovery was the signal lever which was positioned on the left side of the steering wheel which is only common for imported Continental (European) cars.


The transversely mounted Campro IAFM engine churns out a max power output of 82kw at 6,000 rpm and a max torque of 148nm at 4,000 rpm. The power from the new Campro IAFM is generally adequate for everyday driving. However, the car would benefit from more power as it struggled to accelerate at certain ascending roads with a full load of passengers. Power would not be an issue if one usually drives alone.

This contrasted with my earlier experience with the 1.6L Base Line automatic model with a full load of passengers. I did not recall having a power issue with that model. In fact the 1.6L Base Line automatic model felt more energetic and was eager for the driver to push it hard to higher (rpm) levels.

For me, the stiff gear shift lever slows down the speed of gear change. Coupled with a light clutch, I felt the combination did not gel. I need to consciously time the gear shifts with the release of the clutch. I am not sure whether this is a sample model specific issue or otherwise. In the meantime, I will try to source for another similar model to check this out. Similar with the 1.6L Base Line automatic model, the brakes on this sampled model could be better.

The steering and handling did not disappoint as it was precise and easy to steer. The balance of the car is good. The suspension set up which is not too soft gives adequate comfort to driver and passengers, absorbing the bumps on the road with minimal discomfort. In fact, I would rate the balance and handling of the Persona ahead of the Proton Waja. The Persona is the easier car to steer and control.

Engine and wind noise is discernible especially when you push the car hard and at higher speeds. Based on the Proton Edar’s website, the fuel consumption is frugal; ie at the average speed of 90km/h it is 6.3 litres per 100km. I did not get to finish the entire 50 litre fuel tank on my trial run. However, I think the stated fuel consumption specs is quite accurate as after driving about 30km on the car the fuel meter gauge moved very slightly from the ¾ line.

The car comes with 15 inch alloy wheels and is fitted with Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 (195/60R 15) tyres. The Blaupunkt 2-DIN Radio and CD Player (with MP3), was clear sounding and performed within expectations. It will be better if the multifunction buttons on the steering wheel are a bit bigger. The car comes with a lot of useful compartments and the rear seats can be folded down for more boot space.

The overall package is value for money and should meet the expectations of many in this price bracket. Comparing both the manual and automatic transmissions, I would now lean more on the automatic at this time as it provided a better driving experience although my preference is for manual transmission cars. Perhaps the car is still new and requires further running. Since I can still get access to this sampled car, significant updates on this sample model (if any) will be forthcoming.

UPDATE (23/1/2010)

By coincidence I managed to find a similar Persona manual tranmission medium line model in a Proton showroom. I tested the gear shift lever and noted that it was not as stiff as the sample model.  There is still some stiffness to it but it is bearable. I conclude that this is probably a sample variation issue.

UPDATE (19/2/2010)

I managed to test this sample model again after two months. If I am not mistaken the mileage is now around 2,500km. The gear shift lever still had some resistance/stiffness. More concern is that the brakes have began to fade. There were some internal squeaks as well. Perhaps this is a sample variation. Engine performance remains satisfactory although more power would be better.


Engine: Campro IAFM 16-V DOHC
Capacity: 1,597cc
Max Output: 82kW/6,000 rpm
Max Torque: 148nm/4,000 rpm
Top Speed: 190km/h
Acceleration 0-100km: 12sec
Fuel Consumption: 6.3ltr/100km @ 90km/h

Source: Proton Brochure & Website

Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized Proton dealer



Click on these to sample sounds from the car!

Persona Ignition (Outside)

Persona Horn (Outside)

Persona Acceleration (Outside)

You may also like...