There may be an aggressive range of models in the Proton stable, but it seems to be lacking a mid-sized sedan.
We wouldn’t blame you if you were a little confused over how Proton’s model line has evolved over the years. Gone are the simple days of the Proton Saga, Wira, Satria, and Perdana fulfilling their various roles in the product lineup. Now we have the Saga (a sub-subcompact sedan?), the Iriz (a subcompact hatchback), the Persona (a subcompact sedan), the X50 (a compact SUV), the X70 (a mid-sized SUV) and the Exora (an MPV).
Now you might be wondering if something has mysteriously gone missing, and you’re right. The Perdana has been phased out of production completely, not unexpectedly, but what’s more intriguing is that neither the Suprima nor the Preve have had a successor. If you don’t know what role the Preve was meant to fill, it was effectively a replacement for the Inspira, which was a replacement for the Waja.
Or was the Preve a replacement for the previous generation Persona – as the Suprima is a replacement for Gen 2, which was a sister car to the Persona. In any case, we digress – the current Persona as we know it is a fantastic vehicle but it doesn’t exactly fight at a C-segment level – which is where the Inspira and Preve sort of fought.
If the roadmap that Proton displayed a couple of years is anything to go by, we should be expecting a sedan model this year. Perhaps the larger issue is that Proton hasn’t exactly had the time or resources to develop something from the ground up or adapt the existing models, so it may very well have to look at localizing a Geely model – which gives us a couple of candidates.
From a wheelbase perspective, the current Persona measures in at 2,555 mm – which means that a Preve replacement would have to be larger than this by a reasonable amount. The Preve when it was last sold shared a 2,650 mm wheelbase with the Suprima S, and the current offerings over at Geely are either the Binrui with a 2,670 mm wheelbase, or the Emgrand GL with a 2,700 mm wheelbase.
While the Binrui is slated to be the likely option for our market, the Emgrand GL comes with a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder powertrain like the X50 currently uses, with 177 PS and a 7-speed dual-clutch type automatic transmission. It also shares roughly the same price range as the Geely Binyue – which is essentially the Chinese market version of the Proton X50, which would position it pretty competitively in that market segment.
But if we are to get the Binrui, we wouldn’t be losing out either. It’s a very handsome vehicle, only to get more handsome with some Malaysian touches in the styling department. The powertrains may need a bit of tweaking for production efficiency, but it wouldn’t be difficult to get it positioned in our market as a competitive replacement to the missing Preve.
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