The updated Proton S16 – known as the Proton Saga FLX in Malaysia, where it is the country’s best selling car – was launched late last month in its domestic market.
It will arrive in Australia just in time to satisfy the Federal Government’s electronic stability control (ESC) standards. The potentially life-saving technology becomes mandatory for all new passenger cars sold in all states from November 1.
The Proton S16 is currently one of the cheapest cars in Australia – starting from just $11,990 drive away – but also one of the most poorly equipped when it comes to safety features.
The current S16 does not come with ABS or ESC. All models come with a driver’s airbag, but only the $15,990 top-spec GXR gets a second front passenger airbag.
Proton Cars Australia general manager sales and marketing, Billy Falconer, confirmed the updated model for Australia would come standard with ABS, ESC and dual front airbags.
Mr Falconer said the added safety features were likely to push up the price of the entry-level S16.
“We are trying to keep it there ($11,990 drive away), or with very minimal price increases,” he said.“Realistically, we’re probably looking at a slight increase, around $12,990, because of the added safety features.”
Proton is continuing to produce both the 70kW/120Nm 1.3-litre petrol engine and the 82kW/148Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine for the vehicle, although Proton Cars Australia is considering dropping the 1.3 from its line-up.
Mr Falconer said talks were currently underway in Malaysia to finalise the Australian range, with an announcement to be made next week.
“At this stage it’s probably just 1.6,” Mr Falconer admitted.
The biggest mechanical change for the new model will be the introduction of a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), replacing the four-speed automatic. The new CVT will be sold alongside the existing five-speed manual in Australia.
New features are expected to include AUX and USB audio connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, LED side-mirror indicators and driver’s seat height adjustment.
Proton Cars Australia has sold 332 S16 vehicles in Australia so far this year, which is 43.4 per cent below its results over the same period in 2010.
It trails the similarly priced Hyundai Getz (11,151 units), Nissan Micra (5142 units), Suzuki Alto (2968 units), Holden Barina Spark (2656 units) so far this year, but leads the Chery J1 (251 units).
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