I’m the first to admit that the Proton isn’t the most prestigious of car brands around but it's sure out to make its marquee (excuse the pun) with the Persona. And it may well be the closest the average punter will ever get to driving a Lotus. Confused? Proton is in fact owned by the same company that designed and created the legendary Lotus. Now that’s some serious street cred to impress for a very competitively priced car. And that’s just the beginning.
What the Persona may lack in prestige, it sure makes up for in value for money. The Persona has it all for less – think power steering, auto system controls on the steering wheel, air conditioning, electric windows, remote keyless entry, 15' allow wheels, reverse sensors, power seats and a trip computer that allows you to answer the age-old question 'Are we there yet?' along with tracking fuel consumption. Now that’s a lot of bang for your buck. Sold yet? Allow me to continue.
The Proton isn’t all that crash-hot to drive, however, for the price, it's not bad. Not bad at all. The steering is solid (but not too heavy), it handles well, is smooth and quiet and much zippier than I expected. I did find rear visibility a little difficult (the mirrors leave a lot to be desired) and the layout of the dash is hard to navigate.
I also sometimes found it difficult to slot into gear, but for the money, I opted to glaze over this by drawing on the aforementioned 6 degrees of separation to Lotus, pretending I was actually driving the Esprit, Julia-Roberts-style in Pretty Woman. Crunch.
Speaking of women, many will be impressed by the outstanding ‘bigger is better’ storage in the Proton. From the large centre console, cup holders, a handy shelf under the driver’s dash, and a sunglasses nook to the substantial boot, the Proton is clever in its interior design, and this includes its 3 anchor points for the baby car seat.
Not so admirable, however, is the trim and cheap plastic-y look and feel inside, but again, I was able to divert my attention away to the excellent room and headspace within the cabin.
Eco-friendly, the Proton shoots and scores with its low fuel consumption and was awarded 4 out of 5 stars from the Green Vehicle Guide.
In regards to safety, we can safely say the Proton doesn’t skimp here with the inclusion of dual front airbags with seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters, ABS, EBD, and an auto lock system. Although not yet crash-tested, Proton are confident that it will pass the test with flying colours. Stay tuned.