The second-generation Proton Persona was introduced as an all-new model in 2016, before receiving an update earlier this year.
Priced between RM 42,600 and RM 54,600, this makes the Proton Persona the most affordable B-segment sedan on the market right now.
But does the Proton Persona has what it takes to compete against more expensive Japanese and German rivals?
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of the Proton Persona, comparing it against some of its rivals:
In terms of value for money, the Proton Persona offers the best value for money, as it packs 6 airbags, stability control, and a touchscreen infotainment system for under the RM 60,000 mark.
But the Persona isn’t perfect – the CVT-type automatic remains as the biggest pitfall of the model. Granted Proton has been refining the CVT over the past couple of years and it shows, but against the competition, the Punch-sourced CVT-type automatic still suffers from the dreaded rubber-banding effect and does get rather noisy when given the beans.
We are also willing to give up 4G internet connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, as we reckon the latter to be far more practical in day-to-day use.
Launched earlier this year, the updated Toyota Vios has improved leaps and bounds over the model it replaces. Unlike the predecessor model, all variants of the Vios now receive 7 airbags as standard, which is a huge step-up. Apart from the airbag count, the Vios also gets Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which until now, was unheard of in this segment.
However, despite being the widest model here, the Vios’ cabin feels rather tight. Usable space in the cabin is also rather limited, falling behind the City. The 6.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Honda City, despite being one of the oldest models here, remains as the segment’s best-selling model, and it’s easy to see why.
Honda’s ‘Man Maximum, Machine Minimum’ concept takes credit here, as Honda engineers have designed the cabin of the City to offer the best practicality in its class. Storage spaces are aplenty, and the generous rear legroom rivals some C-segment sedans. The City’s 1.5-litre i-VTEC mill also offers sufficient grunt to satisfy most users.
With that said, with the introduction of the updated City in 2017, Honda replaced the nicely-integrated touchscreen infotainment system with a far worse unit. The low-resolution screen found in the updated model hampers the overall user experience, and the lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is another oversight.
When equipped with the 1.2-litre TSI engine, the Volkswagen Vento is the sole turbocharged B-segment sedan on sale in Malaysia. The TSI mill helps the Vento to boast the highest torque output in the segment, nudging ahead of the City Hybrid ever so slightly (175 Nm vs 170 Nm).
The Volkswagen Vento is also one of the best handling B-segment models, as Volkswagen has done a swell job fine-tuning the suspension set-up of the Vento.
But on the flipside, all variants of the Vento offer 4 airbags, which is a measly amount considering that the Vios offers 7 airbags across the range. Continuing on the safety aspect of the Vento, variants equipped with the 1.6 MPI engine isn’t available with stability control. Only Vento variants equipped with the 1.2 TSI engine get stability control.
For the vast majority of buyers, the default choice is the Honda City and Toyota Vios. Both cars are good at what they do, but if affordability is a key factor in deciding your next car, then take a closer look at the Proton Persona.
Although the Proton Persona may not offer the blistering performance of the Vento, or the practicality of the City, the value for money preposition offered by the Persona is hard to ignore as the monthly commitment will be considerably lower than its rivals.
Proton also has the widest network of service centres here in Malaysia, making it relatively easy to find for a service centre.
Perhaps its time for people to put aside their stigma and check out the Persona.