When Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammad had launched Proton Saga the first Malaysian made car in the year 1985, it had been a landmark as we had become the first country in South East Asia to produce our own car. Our prime minister during his time had come up with the idea to create national car in 1979, getting the cabinet approval in 1982 that lead to the founding of Proton and in 1985 history been made with the launch of Proton Saga and with the collaboration with the Mitsubishi Motors from Japan , the Proton had seen its up and down . Before the launch of Perodua in 1993, Proton is the one and only automobile manufacturer in our country. Some Malaysian is proud of using Proton and some criticized Proton due to built quality, but one thing that can’t be denied is in Malaysia, Proton is the most used car. Since the launch of Proton Saga, Proton had launched many models from the Saga to the latest Proton XC 70.
We can look at the history of Proton model and they are some model which can be described as a defining moment for Proton and here is some of them.
Proton Persona First Generation
The first car under the ownership of new CEO Dato Sri Haji Syed Zainal. The car is one of the best cars in the Proton line-up. It was launched as the successor to the now-defunct Proton Wira. Since the launch of the first generation in 2007, it had become a popular choice in our country and still has as evident with the second facelift launched in August 2016. With an improved 1.6-liter Campro engine as the result of the negative feedback received by Proton from Gen -2 with had been fitted with some engine, these models had been a massive success. One year after the launch, it had received the Frost & Sullivan Best Model of the Year in 2008. This car model is the one that had lifted Proton from the sales and financial slump and makes them a household name again.
Satria means the Knight and true to this name, this car model had been the most popular among the car lovers who love their car as this is the first 2 doors hatchback model from Proton. The first model was launched in 1993 and in 1998 Proton had launched the Satria GTI which is a more powerful performance specification as it is packed with 1.8 Mitsubishi engine and can produce 138hp. This horsepower makes this car is the fastest ever car coming out from Proton manufacturing line during this time. This car also has the Handling by Lotus badge in the rear.
Proton Perdana First Generation
When Proton had decided to make a D-Segment car, they had launched Perdana in 26th January 1995. Again, this is a landmark as for the first time ever, Proton is competing with the Japanese model like Nissan Cefiro, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry. This car also had become the official government car and in the year 1998, Proton had launched the Perdana V6 variant and with the help from Lotus Motor who helped to improve the handling, this V6 model had a significantly improved NVH. The impact of Perdana first generation is so great the even the second generation Perdana that was launched with is just a Honda Accord 8th Gen rebadge, it does not have the same success as the first.
Proton XC 70
The car that is considered the best Proton car. However, they are some skeptics and critics who dislike as this are many first things for Proton when comes to this car model. The XC70 is the first Proton SUV and it is the first Proton model that had been launched since the collaboration with Geely Motors. This is Proton car that most car lover’s dream of and the XC 70 successfully delivered. What this car has that makes it the best Proton car? The XC70 model has a 1.8-liter turbocharger that can deliver 181hp and 285nm of torque and currently this is fastest ever car from Proton. This car also had the Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS) and this car also had the Geely Smart Ecosystem. This advanced features and combined with the powerful engine makes the car the best Proton car model since the launched of Proton Saga in 1985.
The Persona may have lifted Proton from the financial slump, Proton XC70 may have the best features, Proton Satria is the first ever hatchback and Perdana is the first ever D-Segment car for Proton however all of these may not happen if the first generation Proton Saga were not materialized. The first car made by Proton is still the car that will be an iconic car for Proton as it represents that we had the capabilities to build own car and also makes us become the first automobile manufacturer in South East Asia. A proud moment that will never be replicated again. The Proton Saga may have some criticism and especially that since the launch of Proton Saga, the foreign levy for imported car had been increased making us paying some high amount for the foreign car but the day the Proton Saga had been launched it is baby step symbolized that we had advanced to the level that we can make our own car which is a moment to be proud of . The car had been so iconic that is had been preserved in our National Museum as the beginning of our automobile industries. The first Proton Saga had 1.2 million units sold to the customer making the best ever offering from Proton and this record is still intact until today.
This five-car model had defined Proton since the launched of the Proton Saga in 1985, and with more model to come, Proton will be expected to make a better car model than the current model.