2011 Proton Persona Review
2011 Proton Persona at a glance
The Proton Wira's successor, the 2011 Proton Persona represents excellent value against key rivals. The engaging drive remains, while the cabin quality, practicality, room and engine performance are much improved.
2011 Proton Persona quick specs
2011 Proton Persona ratings (overall rating : 3.5/5.0)
Transforming the Proton Gen2 hatchback into a sedan can be a tricky affair, so credit to Proton for penning a pleasant, coherent Persona design. Every panel from the B-pillar to the rear is new, which includes a less inclined roof. The latest facelift gave the 2011 Proton Persona a restyled grille, blacked-out headlamps, new rear lamp clusters with LED brake lights and redesigned 15" wheels. The interior received refreshed instrument dials with red needles and white numbering.
The Proton Gen2 has a capable chassis with a finely-tuned ride-and-handling balance. And thus there is little surprise the 2011 Proton Persona provides an engaging drive through its well-judged dynamics and responsive, sharp steering. The Proton Persona's suspension setup is softer than the Gen2's, and thus it leans more through bends, but body roll is never excessive. Grip levels are good, and when the 2011 Proton Persona eventually pushes wide, the chassis remains responsive to steering and throttle adjustments.
The 2011 Proton Persona rides in a commendably supple manner, cushioning occupants from our rough, patchy roads. Cabin refinement scores less well, with engine noise being more prominent at cruising speeds. But wind and road noise are well kept out. The cabin, largely carried over from the Proton Gen2, has improved ergonomics with better placed power window switches. But the driving position is still too high (and steering wheel too low) for comfort. Height adjustments for the steering wheel and driver's seat are available. Major controls are easy to use, but the small buttons of the stereo are fiddly to use.
Quality + Reliability
The 2011 Proton Persona retains the Proton Gen2's cabin architecture but adds much-needed practicality. Proton added a number of cubby holes, a glovebox, four cupholders, a shelf below the steering column, and most importantly improved plastic quality. Air-con dials work slickly, but the steering wheel audio controls (which B-Line trim does without) can be more tactile. The leather upholstery on the H-Line trim actually feels and looks luxurious. Reliability wise, the major mechanicals such as the engine and transmission should pose no problems over the longer term.
The standard 1.6-litre Campro engine is weak below 3500 rpm. But by equipping Campro with Intake Air-Flow Module (IAFM), torque delivery is more linear, eliminating the infamous torque dip. Producing 110 bhp at 6500 rpm and 148 Nm at 4000 rpm, the 1.6-litre Campro IAFM provides increased flexibility for overtaking and cruising, and shaves 0.5 seconds off the 0-100 km/h times. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are available.
The Proton Gen2 lacks rear headroom, but with a redesigned, taller roofline, the 2011 Proton Persona has ample headroom for rear passengers. Rear legroom is generous by class standards, while front driver and passenger will have no complaints regarding the room. The boot capacity is large at 430 litres, and rear seats can 60:40 split-fold for more loading space (which B-Line trim does without).
Fuel economy for the 1.6-litre IAFM manual variant stands at 15.4 km/litre, and the 1.6-litre IAFM automatic variant at 14.7 km/litre. All figures are obtained travelling at a constant 90 km/h; start-stop city driving is going to worsen the fuel economy. Servicing and repairs are affordable. The Proton brand is not best known for its reliability, and unless Proton starts to pay attention to reliability and quality concerns among Malaysians, the Persona and other Proton models are likely to hold on to their values poorly.
Value for Money
It took time, but Proton is surely on the right track here. The Proton Wira's successor, the Proton Persona looks pleasant, drives competently and rides comfortably. Cabin quality and ergonomics have improved, while the engine performance is more flexible. Importantly, interior room and practicality issues are addressed. The 2011 Proton Persona deserves consideration against rivals such as the Toyota Vios and Honda City, even without the price advantage. But with it, the 2011 Proton Persona just represents excellent value.
Standard items on the B-Line include 15" steel wheels, auto door lock, power windows, keyless entry, alarm with immobiliser, reverse sensor, radio/CD/MP3 audio player with USB connectivity, and fabric upholstery. M-Line adds a body kit, rear spoiler, front fog lamps, alloy wheels, electrically-adjustable side mirrors, steering wheel audio switches, height-adjustable driver's seat, foldable rear seats, and airbag with seatbelt pretensioner for the driver's seat. H-Line further adds leather upholstery, auto cruise, boot with remote release, ABS with EBD, and airbag with seatbelt pretensioner for the front passenger's seat.
While the fuel economy is decent, carbon dioxide emissions are far higher than it should be for a 1.6-litre engine. Local production however makes the 2011 Proton Persona less polluting on the transportation front compared to a car imported from Europe, Japan or other Southeast Asian nations.
Live Life Drive Verdict
Drives competently and rides comfortably
Improved cabin quality and interior room
IAFM provides increased flexibility
Loud engine note at higher revs
High driving position
Some not-so-tactile buttons