Much has been said about the recently launched Proton Iriz and Persona facelifts, from the driving experience to the headline grabbing price cuts. However, our interview with the national carmaker’s chief designer Azlan Othman has now shed some light about some of the design changes of the two cars, and the decisions behind them.

According to Azlan, a lot of work has been done to increase the commonalities between the two cars, with items like the bonnet and reflector headlights now shared across both models – previously, the Iriz featured projector lamps. This provides the added benefit of reducing cost, which is likely one of the reasons why Proton has managed to drop the starting price of the Iriz below RM37,000.

When asked why the cars did not come with items like LED headlights, as the Perodua Myvi does, Azlan said, “A lot of people say we should fix the fundamental things first. From what we know from reports and everything else, the lights were not the main issues of the cars in the past, so we had to be practical. The cost of the cars was a much more important thing to consider.

“So these were conscious decisions that we made to commonise what we could and make some of the other parts as different as we could. At the end of the day, it’s about providing the best value to our customers; we can’t just give good looks. Value is very important.”

Even so, Proton went to great lengths to differentiate the two cars stylistically, with different grilles, bumpers, wheels and even colour options for each one. Azlan said that while the company managed to lower the price of the cars through parts sharing, there was also a need to retain their individual personalities.

“Like I said, it’s about providing the best value for our customers. But at the same time, each character has to be distinct between the two cars. We’ve styled them in such a way that we want them to be different. So as much as you want to give the best value or the lowest price by commonising everything, that would not fulfil the design intent of making sure the cars look different enough to appeal to the customers,” he said.

The Iriz and Persona receive a variety of updates both aesthetically and mechanically, including a new infotainment system with the “Hi Proton” voice control. Power comes from a 109 PS 1.6 litre VVT engine paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT, with the Iriz also getting the option of a 95 PS 1.3 litre mill. Prices range from RM36,700 to RM50,700 for the Iriz and from RM42,600 to RM54,600 for the Persona.

GALLERY: 2019 Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT

GALLERY: 2019 Proton Persona 1.6 Premium