The new Proton Persona was one of three new sedans the national carmaker launched in 2016, alongside the flagship Perdana and the entry level Saga. Of the trio, captured together in a gallery we presented to you in November, the one in the middle is the biggest curiosity for this writer.

Here’s why. The Perdana is a big sedan, the Saga a small one. Despite the Perdana’s Jaguar-inspired profile, both are essentially three-box sedans designed with a boot in mind. Straightforward things they are.

The Persona is now a B-segment sedan, which is a level up from the Saga and a theoretical rival to the Honda City, Toyota Vios and Nissan Almera. However, the Iriz-based sedan has a smaller footprint than the Japanese trio, and doesn’t boast that much of a size advantage over the Saga. The Persona’s hatchback roots are also more obvious than the rest. Then again, looks are subjective and there’s more to segments than millimetres.

It may seem so in isolation, but as our side-by-side gallery here shows, the Persona is a lot more than an Iriz with a boot tacked on. While the five-door hatch’s width (1,722 mm), height (1,554 mm) and wheelbase length (2,555 mm) are unchanged in the sedan, the latter is 467 mm longer overall, and its 510 litre boot holds significantly more than the hatchback’s 215 litres. It also beats the original Persona’s 430 litre capacity.

Some will be surprised to hear that all body panels except for the front doors and fenders are unique to the Persona. Its face, while familiar, is subtly different. There’s a new chrome bar that extends across the grille and into the headlights (a popular cue these days), and the latter are reflector units instead of the Iriz’ projectors. The lower grille has also been redesigned and now sweeps under the front fog lights. Which face do you prefer?

The sedan’s C-pillar has been given a BMW-style kink, while the lengthened rear end gains one-piece tail lights joined together by another chrome bar, plus a sizeable black rear valence insert complete with reflectors and a centre fog lamp. Unique rims, too. The tall rear end coupled with the short rear deck reminds me of SUV coupes such as the BMW X4.

The interior is very similar to that of the Iriz, with the addition of a black-and-light-grey colour scheme, a redesigned gear lever and gloss grey trim on higher-end variants. No map lights for the sedan, just one in the middle for the whole cabin. There’s decent space available, and rear passengers will find the new Persona more comfy than the old one.

The Persona is powered by the Iriz’s 1.6 litre DOHC VVT engine with 107 hp and 150 Nm. Drive is sent to front wheels via a five-speed manual (only for the Standard) or a CVT automatic (for all trim levels). Unlike the Iriz, there’s no 1.3L engine for the Persona, as that’s reserved for the more basic Saga.

Several improvements have been made to reduce NVH, such as a reduction in the number of engine mounts from four to three, a redesigned exhaust system for less boom and a revised ECU for a more linear throttle response. Slotting under the Preve, the Persona starts at RM46,800 for the Standard M/T (add RM3,000 for the CVT) to RM55,800 for the Executive CVT. The range tops out at RM59,800 for the Premium CVT. Full review here.


GALLERY: Proton Persona

GALLERY: Proton Iriz