Insurance Group: 7
0-62 Mph: 12.0 secs
BHP: 110 BHP
Range: 471 miles
PROS: More sophisticated looking than the hatchback. Good level of equipment.
CONS: Poor quality interior. Dull driving experience. Steep depreciation. Unrefined engine
For the price you pay you’d expect a bit more than the cloth upholstery and low quality plastic trim you find in the interior of the cabin. The overall finish is lacklustre and disappointing. Adjustment for finding your ideal driving position is decent and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The dashboard design is practical even if all the controls aren’t as easy to use as the steering wheel mounted audio controls.
The 110bhp, 1.6-litre petrol engine produces 109lb-ft of torque and takes you from 0-62mph in 12 seconds and on to a top sped of 118mph, but getting there requires working the engine hard. Throttle response in low gears is disappointing and unresponsive. Its less than precise handling makes city driving tiring, but it's tolerable on a motorway cruise, despite the noisy engine. Road noise and wind noise although present are not intrusive.
The Proton GEN-2, 1.6-litre Persona offers little in the way of driving pleasure. The brakes feel sloppy and vague and the five-speed gearbox isn’t any better. The four-speed auto option is even worse - slow to respond and quite old-fashioned. The GEN-2 Persona's handling is competent even though it can feel vague when cornering and the steering doesn’t really provide much in the way of feedback for the driver.
Similar to the hatchback, the Proton GEN-2 1.6 Persona 4dr just looks dated – it has the look of a car a generation behind its rivals – both inside and out.
All Personas are reasonably well equipped with central locking, power steering, electric windows, electric door mirrors, 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, ABS, CD+MP3 connectivity, halogen headlamps, tinted glass, an alarm, an immobiliser and rear parking sensors as standard. Metallic paint and leather seats are also available as optional extras.
The boot in this saloon version is slightly less spacious than in the hatchback but it’s still large enough for most needs offering 430-litres with the rear seats in position and 860-litres with them folded down. It offers comfortable space with good head and leg room for adults. Although trying to get three adults in the back is a squeeze, three children should be quite comfortable.
Euro NCAP have not crashed tested the GEN-2 1.6 Persona 4dr yet. Its safety features include ABS, front and rear crumple zones, side-impact bars and rollover protection. The Persona only has two airbags - one for the driver and one for the front passenger - which is poor. An alarm, immobilizer and remote central locking are fitted as standard to deter against theft.
The build quality of the interior is poor and the cheap plastic trim does not look durable. However, Proton’s engines and mechanicals are tried and tested so you shouldn’t have much to worry about on that score. The GEN-2 Persona comes with Proton’s three-year, 60,000 mile warranty and regular service intervals of 9,000 miles.
For the £11,195 price tag you do get quite a large car for your money, but Protons do not hold their value well and there are rivals such as Mitsubushi’s Lancer or Chevrolet’s Lancetti that offer better value for money, certainly in terms of refinement and handling.
The Proton’s average fuel economy of 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 157g/km make it competitive in its class and offer reasonably economical motoring. Group 16 insurance and Road Tax in VED band G shouldn’t break the bank either.
A used GEN-2 with full service history may be your best bet: you’ll still get a lot of car – but for a lot less money.
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