Proton Australia managing director John Startari told CarAdvice the new model – codenamed P3-21A – will replace the compact Persona sedan in its line-up, but will be larger and considerably more advanced.
Two 1.6-litre petrol engines will be offered. The entry-level GX gets a naturally aspirated unit that is standard with a manual transmission and available with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The top-spec GXR will feature a low-pressure turbocharged powerplant and will be CVT-only.
The GX will come with six airbags, electronic stability control and alloy wheels, while the GXR will include a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, among other high-grade features.
The new four-door five-seater’s design draws inspiration from the 2010 Proton Tuah concept (pictured), which was penned by renowned automotive design house Italdesign Giugiaro. The headlights and grille will be similar to the Tuah concept’s, although the lower edge of the headlights will meet the grille in a straight line, much like the Kia Optima.
The taillights are conventional red and white fixtures with a hint of Jaguar XF in their design, and are separate rather than melded across the boot lid like the Tuah’s.
Startari said it was too early to give an indication of local pricing for the new model, although it will cost at least as much as the current Persona, which is priced from $14,990 to $18,990 driveaway.
The new sedan will arrive in Australia one month after the Proton Exora people mover goes on sale.
The seven-seater will be powered by a low-pressure turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and teamed exclusively with a CVT. Expect the Exora to be priced below $25,000.
Proton Australia hopes the two new models will turn around its sliding sales. The budget brand’s sales slipped 18.8 per cent in 2011 to 1542 – it’s worst full-year result since 2004. The entry-level S16 sedan was Proton’s most popular model last year, with 531 sales across Australia.