Every automobile manufacturer has their own flagship model. For the car that is sold in the Malaysian market, it is Camry for Toyota Motors, Accord for Honda Motors , Teana for Nissan, Passat for Volkswagen Group, Sonata for Hyundai Motors, BMW 3 Series for BMW, Audi A4 for Audi and many more flagship model. Our very own Proton that founded 1983 unfortunately during at the earlier days does not have any flagship model and only the Saga and Iswara in their production line.
Only in late 80’s and early half of 90’s when the economy growth for Malaysia is 8% percent every year, Proton decided that it needed a flagship model or D- Class segment to compete with Camry, Accord, and Nissan Cefiro at that time. And in 1993, it happens when Proton had launched it own flagship model called as Perdana which the Malay word for English Premier and this names was chosen to show that this is the Premier car for the Proton.
The first generation Perdana was the 3rd collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors and it is based on Mitsubishi Eterna platform. It shared the vast majority of its part with the JDM –spec and received only a minor update on the internal and external part. The engine that is also based on Mitsubishi 2.0 engine is capable of producing 135hp and 176nm of torque and it has a 4-speed automatic transmission and 5-speed manual transmission.It is also the first Proton car that had the ABS, folding mirror, cruise control, all round power window , and headlight leveling system.
The launch of Perdana is massively popular with the customer until Proton had struggled to meet their demand where some customer needs to wait up to 6 months to get the car.It also becomes the government official car when it had been used for the 1998 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit conference in Kuala Lumpur with a bulletproof mirror added in.
In 1998 5 years after launching the first generation Perdana, Proton had launched the second generation of Perdana that had been named as Perdana V6 in Stadium Putra , Bukit Jalil. Like its name, it had been equipped with Mitsubishi V6 engine that gave 148hp 13 more than the first generation Perdana and received additional ride and handling input from the Lotus who is the Proton subsidiary. With the V6 , the first generation Perdana was discontinued in early 2000.
The Perdana V6 like the first generation had become major hits in Malaysia at that time and it also been sold in Singapore and Brunei starting from 1999 respectively. The Perdana V6 also widely used as a government car and also by some foreign diplomat in Malaysia . The success of the Perdana V6 had led Proton to create another 2 variant called as Perdana V6 Executive where it had more rear passenger compartment and an extended wheelbase and also the Perdana V6 Limousine which had more luxury compare to Executive one.
The Perdana V6 that had been popular also have an official car club that is registered with Registrar of Society( ROS) since 2001. The club is called as the V-Sixers @ Perdana V6 Club Malaysia and it the only official Proton car club that is under Proton.
Where the first 2 generation were a collaboration with the Mitsubishi Motors , the 3rd generation was completely different as Proton had taken the Honda Accord Gen 8 car and rebadged it as Proton Perdana which some changes to the logo of the car but overall it is still an Accord that had been rebadged as Perdana. Due to this and fallen Proton reputation, the 3rd generation does not have massive hits among the customers unlike the first 2 Perdana but it is still used as the government official car but for the masses, it is not a big hit compare the first 2. And in June 2016 , the Perdana 4th Generation had been launched with also marks the second collaboration between Honda Motors and Proton. It also had the similar variant with the Accord 2.0 and 2.4 and sharing some i-Vtec engine from Honda motors.
Disappointingly, although collaboration with Honda Motors is appreciatable , to take the 8th Gen Honda and completely rebadge it Perdana is not a flagship model characteristic. Any automobile company in term of their flagship model will never do this and their always had some innovation or some characteristic design on their flagship model example the Camry and Accord have a distinctive design. Many of the new innovation example the Honda Lane Watch will be introduced in the company flagship to make it a selling point suited for their model.
Although the Perdana had some flaws in its design , one thing can’t be denied the Perdana is an iconic car for the Proton after Saga the first Proton model. Proton attempt to make a flagship model for the Malaysian by a Malaysian is appreciative and that is one the first reason on why the 1st Perdana is a massive hit among the hits.
To criticize the customer whom does not buy the Malaysian car an unpatriotic is something that is out of context as when the first Perdana and second generation Perdana was launched it is massive hits and it shows how our people still loves the Proton and even Proton Persona first generation had been a hit when it was launched in 2007. The general negative perception on Proton, the continuous malfunction in the interior parts, bad after sales ,and much more had led to Proton downfall in early 2000 until the launch of Persona.
How long Proton will continue to collaborate with Honda Motors we don’t know yet and one thing can be hoped that in the future Proton will make a more distinctive design on Perdana instead or rebadging other cars to Perdana. The first Perdana was a massive hit for the customer at that time as it had some distinctive flagship model for the company and the subsequent V6 model also had been a massive and the car is still iconic among the Malaysian car lovers.