5 Reasons Why the Perodua Bezza will be a Proton Killer

On July 14th 2016, the whole of Malaysia woke up to see their Facebook news feed flooded with a story that shook the nation’s foundation, the launch of an all new sedan by Perodua. And it was not what many expected. You see, everyone, including yours truly expected Perodua’s very first sedan to be based off a Myvi but as it turns out, everyone was wrong. Just like the announcement that Pokemon GO will be launched within a few weeks (or tomorrow), we were lied by the corporate big-wigs. However, unlike Niantic, Perodua kept their promise, and actually revealed their car. Bookings have already started for the car. I have never driven one yet but the guys at paultan.org have! Check out their review here. I am actually impressed with Perodua’s package for their first ever sedan. From the price to the equipment, this is truly the car that will change the foundations of the Malaysian car industry. In other words, this little sedan would begin the death knell of Malaysia’s “pride and joy” or “spirit of achievement”, Proton.

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Well, that escalated quickly. Photo credit here

Before further ado, let me explain the 5 reasons the Bezza will be killing off Proton. Unless the latter did something incredible for their next-gen Saga because let’s be realistic here. Proton would try to survive with the help of the “you know who” despite being privately owned. These 5 reasons here reflect how much Proton have actually gone out of touch with the people and also why Perodua and other car companies are rising up. Since this isn’t a Top 5 chart, all of these reasons are in no particular order whatsoever.

1. All new fuel efficient engines

First, let’s start with the boring technical part (unless you’re a car geek). The Bezza will come with a choice of two engines, a 1.0 VVT-i engine that produces 67 hp and will be on the base model range and a 1.3 DVVT-i engine that makes 94 hp. The fact is these engines are all new. The 1.3 liter engine is based off the Indonesian-spec Toyota Avanza and the 1.0 liter is different from the Axia the Bezza is based on. With rising (or fluctuating) prices of petrol these days, it is obvious that whichever engine you choose, your wallet would feel happy.

2. The styling

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If it wasn’t for the Perodua badge, you may have mistaken the rear for a Toyota Vios and really, there is nothing wrong with a little imitation. Although too much of copying and pasting can result in just blatant laziness. The wheels do not look disproportionate. Maybe not from the above angle but it actually doesn’t look awkward. Not bad for Perodua considering that this is their first ever sedan. It may not look as wild as the 2010 concept but it looks reasonable. Speaking of disproportionate, here‘s Proton’s supposed replacement for its long overdue Persona, which will be based on the Iriz. This makes the new Persona to be smaller than the old Persona, which is confusing.

3. The starter button

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One of the similarities between Perodua and Proton is they have a somewhat mediocre quality for a car of that price. Of course, they were given tax incentives for being built locally but many foreign carmakers have found out that loophole and built theirs in Malaysia too (ie. Honda, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz). As a result, what you normally see in their models are just meh plastic and the feeling of cheapness. But screw that when you can get a keyless ignition system AKA a starter button. Once only seen in more expensive cars, you can get the experience of awesome technology from only RM42,800. And that price is for the manual 1.3 Premium X model. THANK YOU PERODUA for actually caring for those who wanted a manual transmission AND a starter button. Proton offered their Iriz with those combinations too for their 1.6 Premium model but at nearly RM60,000 and with a smaller boot, this is a better alternative. Oh, and the nearly 10 year old Saga doesn’t even come with this feature. Which brings us to…

4. The Price

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Those are the prices for both the Bezza and the Saga respectively. The difference? The Saga is a ten year old technology that is disguised under a “new” car. We are still waiting for an all new Saga that perhaps will be out by the end of this year or early next year. Also, Proton has been slipping in sales. That all new Perdana (which I still hate) would not help sales since it is overpriced and is for a niche market. In terms of equipment, the Bezza stands out ahead of the Saga with more modern creature comforts than the pretty spartan Saga. Like most car manufacturers out there, Proton is selling these off a cheaper price to make way for a new model that will be launching soon. Besides, you would only buy a Saga because it has a boot compared to the Myvi or the Axia and it is within your bidget. Now, with the Bezza, the Saga will be left out.

5. It will be a sale success

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Ever since the Myvi was launched, every car Perodua has produced (except the Nautica, which was a special case) has been a huge success for the company. And honestly, Peroduas are better equipped and better in quality than Protons. Unlike Proton, Perodua gives a refresh of its models every five to six years, just like most car manufacturers, not simple facelifts but upgrades to the car. Unlike Proton (Or Tata, Mahindra, Chinese Citroen) which changes its models every ten years on average and have you seen the lineup? It is so confusing for the general market and even if they reduced the models offered, has Proton actually learnt anything in the past 30 years? Yes, they are a bit quirky in some of the models they offer (Arena/Jumbuck or Juara, who would buy the latter?), but it is time for Proton to actually learn something from its younger sibling. Perodua is currently the best selling car brand whereas Proton has slipped to fourth. Times have truly change. The purveyors of cheap cars have suddenly become more mature in the market.

Photos credit: paultan.org (Engines, starter button), The Star (Featured image), Myvi (author’s own)

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Top 10 Worst Badge-Engineered Cars

Badge-engineering is what some car makers, whether they are new or established, do to save costs on R&D. The term “engineering” has absolutely nothing to do with these cars as they are mere carbon copies of the original models other than a different badge. Sometimes they worked but most of the times, these copies are just bad. Some of them even killed off the brand. These are the Top 10 Worst Badge-Engineered Cars and obviously we’ll begin at number……

10. Lincoln Blackwood

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Lincoln is Ford’s luxury division. Hip hop fans would probably remember them for the Navigator and fans of American history would remember the car maker as the last ride a President took before he was shot (which coincidentally has a similar name to another President who was famously assassinated). Ford built one of the best-selling cars in America, the Ford F-150 pick-up. It was cheap and big, very American. So Lincoln decided to jump on the pick-up sales and what they created was this: The Blackwood. It has an interesting tailgate mechanism, and has many luxury features like plush carpets, a power tonneau cover, black wood trim (hence the name) and rear wheel drive. Wait, that last one should not even be in a pick-up truck. It’s a truck that appears like an off-roader but can’t do crap off road. It was expensive too. At $52,500. You could get a Navigator with four-wheel drive for less than that. And it only comes in one colour. Needless to say, it flopped, but this was not Lincoln’s last and only attempt at a pick-up truck. They released the Mark LT and that one was a moderate success.

9. Saab 600

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When Saab died in 2010, many car fans felt like there is a moose-shaped void left. Saab were a quirky and unique company as explained by Clarkson and May here. They are so OCD, that General Motors got so fed up with their quirkiness, they threw them out in the streets and left to die. And when you think of Saabs, you would imagine 900s, 99s, 9-5s and anything that begins with a 9. Of course, while under the General, the complete line-up were badge-engineered cars. The 9-3 was based on the Opel Vectra, the last 9-5 was based on the Insignia and there were of course the Saabaru 9-2X, and the 9-7X. While the last one is notably horrible as it was based on the equally boring and horrendous Chevrolet Trailblazer, this is the pick of the literal litter. The Saab 600 or to put it in its full name, the Lancia-Saab 600. It was a Delta with the words Saab written on it. The Delta is actually an extraordinary car, winning rallies around the world and made the company memorable as a Rally company. So, when the boys from Trolhättan get their hands on one, it was slow and was completely stripped off all the fun that made the Delta great. The beginning of the Saab’s fall from grace.

8. Geo Tracker

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In my hometown, I used to see one of these driving along the road and at first I thought it was a Suzuki Vitara. The only difference is that it has a red sticker below the number plate which reads “LEFT HAND DRIVE VEHICLE”. It was only later I realized that it was a Geo Tracker, a rebadged version of the Vitara. The Tracker is notable for one thing when it was launched, excessive rolling when avoiding obstacles. At least according to Consumer Reports. GM tried to sue the publication but all charges were dropped and it soldiered on as a Chevrolet after GM realized that an unknown car brand would not attract people to buy them instead of Toyotas and Hondas. Ironically, every single Geo model was a rebadged Japanese car. There was the Prizm, Storm, Spectrum and Metro which were based on the Toyota Sprinter, Isuzu Impulse, Isuzu I-Mark and Suzuki Swift respectively. Some of the lineup, in particular the Prizm, continued to be sold as Chevrolet.

7. Perodua Nautica

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Perodua did an excellent job with the Kembara. A go anywhere off-roader that is cheap and easy to drive. So, when Perodua decided to launch a much awaited successor to the beloved Kembara in 2008, four years after the last Kembara was discontinued, fans were truly crying with tears of joy. Finally, a brand new mini SUV! Huzzah!! Instead the reception was muted when it arrived in showrooms. It was small and practical. The car could go off-road without a problem and the quality is top notch for a Perodua. The reason for this excellent quality is it was built and imported from Japan and since Malaysia imposes ridiculously high import taxes on cars to apparently make us to buy Protons that has a refresh every 10 years, it costs RM90,500 when launched. The Toyota Rush it was based on (which is also longer) costs nearly similar to the Perodua. It was a huge sales flop with less than 500 sold and was quietly discontinued after a year. Perodua said that it flopped because they could not get approved Import Permits for the car. Ironic as the reason for this high import is to protect the local car industry.

6. Toyota Cavalier

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The Chevrolet Cavalier is quite possibly the worst American car to be launched in the 90’s. It was a terrible, cheap excuse for Chevrolet to launch a contender against the Corollas and Altimas. But GM had another solution for that which is the aforementioned Geo program. Funny thing is, these competitors were actually willing to help GM out. Which is where this Toyota Cavalier comes in. In exchange for giving them help in improving the quality of the cars, GM offered to import Cavaliers into Japan and badge them as Toyotas. They tweaked it a little to make it more at home in the Japanese market like a rear fold-down arm rest and amber turn signals. However, the Japanese found out that while it has a Toyota emblem on it, it feels very un-Japanese. There were quality and panel gap issues and there was also the problem with the car’s comfort level. It sold from 1995-2000 and left forgotten.

5. Ford Aspire

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Remember the old days where everyone made a mockery out of the Koreans for their cheap pieces of shit on wheels? That was only 5 years ago and now they make cool looking cars at an affordable price. In the 1990s Kia was just your average crap carmaker importing ugly or bland cars to people who just wanted to move from A to B easily. Ford already had one cheap piece of crap in the shape of the Festiva but when the small car’s time is up, Ford decided to replace it by teaming up with Kia to make this. The Aspire really feels like a cheap Hyundai or Kia and not a Ford. You could say that it ASPIRES to be as shitty as possible. At least the Festiva had a little character, this one has nothing other than a blob outline which probably inspired the design of the weird third-gen Taurus.

4. Pontiac LeMans

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The Le Mans Grand Prix is one of the most exciting races in the world. It is where you get to see the best cars and drivers test out their endurance in 24 hours. The Pontiac LeMans on the other hand is actually a nice muscle car with a very famous role in the classic The French Connection. You can check out the chase scene here. The LeMans then became this in the 1980s after teaming up with GM’s Korean division, Daewoo. The result is an insult to Pontiac, the famed race track and also to muscle car fans all over the world. Had they name it something else, it still would be here but not as high. The LeMans was riddled with numerous quality issues and it really felt cheaply built.

3. Rover CityRover

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In 2003, Rover teamed up with a car maker known for its achievements in its home country to produce an affordable car for the masses. Rover was seen as a company that attracts senior citizens to buy their cars rather than as funky youthful carmaker. That carmaker turned out to be Tata of India and the company agreed with Rover to rebadge the Indica (India’s first in-house developed car) as the CityRover. The car was criticized so heavily by motoring publications that they did not allow Top Gear to review it. Among the faults were quality issues, appaling handling, and a high price. How high? From £6,495. It was among the cheapest cars on the market but Rover paid Tata £3,000 for each car meaning that it is not worth the asking price with all these issues.

2. Alfa Romeo Arna

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Usually when we think of the best of both worlds, we always expect them to be either good or a horrible monstrosity. An Italian car design with Japanese reliability would be an almost too perfect car. A Japanese car with Italian build quality on the other hand would be a nightmare. Which is where the Alfa Romeo Arna comes in. It was based on the seriously boring to death Nissan Cherry. It was Alfa’s competition to the Lancia Delta and Volkswagen Golf, both of which are legendary until today. At that time, many countries ban or limit the import of Japanese cars. To overcome this loophale, Nissan and Alfa Romeo forged a deal to make this. Nissan would build the panels and Alfa would build them. However the Japanese probably did not realize that Alfas of yore were notoriously unreliable. What came out was a Nissan that rot even when there is a light shower not to mention terrible steering, and that last one exemplifies why this one of the worst cars ever but it is not the worst in our list. But first!

Dishonorable mentions:

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Chevrolet Nova – Based on the Toyota Corolla, it was just a bad decision by GM to gain a foothold in front of the Japanese and the death of yet another iconic car name

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Vanden Plas 1500/1700 – How to make the Austin Allegro more gaudy? This is your answer

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Isuzu i-Series – Marked the downfall of Isuzu from America, also Isuzu Acender. They became obsolete GM products

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Triumph Acclaim – One of the reasons Triumph died is because of this which is essentially a Honda Ballade with worse quality

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Aston Martin Cygnet – Nope. Nope. Nooope.

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Pontiac G3 – Pontiac’s final attempt to gain buyers is a Chevrolet Aveo-shaped nail to its coffin

1. Cadillac Cimarron

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The 1980s was the year of excess and greed, for the lack of a better word, is good. But even in a time of excess and pleasure, GM wanted to save on manufacturing costs by building multiple cars under one platform. The Cadillac Cimarron was based on the J-platform which includes the Chevrolet Cavalier, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, Pontiac J2000, 2000, and Sunbird. Based on those cars, this was supposed to be a cheap, economy car and not for luxury purposes. But a Cadillac is a Cadillac. Fearful of the wave of small, midsize European luxury cars like the BMW 3-Series, the Cadillac was quickly rushed to production and the end result was merely akin to an ugly scrawny chihuahua with bling and a small sweater or a cobbled out apartment with luxury sofa and good sound system but a leaky ceiling and cracked floors.  It was a disaster for Cadillac. Buyers were not fooled at the sight of an economy car pretending to be a luxury car with a much higher asking price compared to its siblings. Even the engine was weak and a V6 option was only launched in 1985, three years after launched. It marked the beginning of the downfall of Cadillac, from a luxury car company to just a car company struggling to keep up with the times and trends. Look at Cadillacs of today, if it wasn’t for the Escalade, Cadillac could probably cease to exist thanks to this car. To quote CarBuzz, the Cimarron is “textbook example of what goes wrong when carmakers try to badge engineer an economy car into a luxury car”.

8 New Cars That Should Have Been Sold in Malaysia Right Now

The Malaysian car market is pretty stagnant. Sure, we do get a few car launches that makes us more interested in buying one until we see the price of the car and decided to stick with Protons or Peroduas because they are so much cheaper. Then there are cars which mysteriously are not available here for reasons unknown. Maybe they pose a threat to the national carmakers or maybe there isn’t just demand for these cars. Here are eight that I have selected that should have been sold in Malaysia but instead are just left at the docks. I am going to only focus on everyday cars instead of supercars because as we know it, the supercars and big luxury cars are only aimed at those that can afford one.

Hyundai i10

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It is no surprise that Malaysia likes small cars. We are the polar opposite of the major ASEAN nations. Singapore likes anything above C-segment. Indonesia likes MPVs while Thailand and the Philippines  would prefer SUVs. Malaysians would rather have a small car. Our most popular model is the Myvi. Hyundai still sells the first generation i10, which although looked cute at the time, looks like an Atos when compared to the second-gen model.I’m curious into why Hyundai would not want to bring this baby in. Kia sells the current generation Picanto at a competitive price, so why can’t Hyundai bring the i10 in?

Chevrolet Spark

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Chevrolet’s history in Malaysia is sketchy and a flop. Poor dealer networks and lousy cars mean that Chevrolet is not going to last pretty long in Malaysia and before you know it, they will disappear altogether. The Colorado may have been a success for Chevrolet but here’s what they could have sold. The small little Spark. It looks weird but sometimes weird can sell. Look at the Nissan Juke, for example. Or if you want something closer to home, a BMW X6 since the Juke is not available here. They both look weird and still managed to sell well. Or they can officially import a Corvette Stingray, that would attract buyers.

Honda Brio

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The Honda Brio is Honda’s smartest looking small car outside of Japan. Meant for the developing markets, this and its sedan equivalent, the Amaze sparked a revolution when they were launched. Why weren’t these cute buggers ever sold in Malaysia? Possibly to protect both national brands but I call bullcrap on that. If Kia or GWM can sell cars that are cheaper or as cheap as a Perodua or a Proton, why can’t Honda? Maybe they could sell one with different personalizations like a Fiat 500. Speaking of Fiats.

Fiat Punto

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You may have expected a 500 to pop out here but you are wrong! The 500 was officially imported here a few years ago but the dealer went AWOL shortly after. So, how to revive a carmaker that used to do quite well in the Malaysian market? By reviving the name that started it all. Yes, Fiat should have sold the 500 too but they could start off their comeback with the Punto, a name most Fiat fans remember with. The Punto may have looked dated but the mechanicals are sound and actually reliable.

Volkswagen up!

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First of all, this car would not be as cheap as the rest of the cars sold here. It would definitely be sold as a CBU import from Germany and would be priced as much as a Mini or more. But the cool looks would actually fit well with the urban backdrop of KL. Cool, chic and clean. This is car that is for the fashionistas. Ignore the fact that it is supposed to be a cheap urban runabout in Europe.

Kia Soul

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A Kia that is cool looking and can be customized to your liking. This should be a cheap alternative to the Mini and the Beetle especially since the latter has been popping out everywhere in Malaysia. Kias no longer have that crappy, bland expressionless perception. Everyone wants to own an Optima K5 because it looked badass and is much cheaper than a BMW 5-Series. If priced right, Kia can see another hit coming their way.

Renault Duster

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Ever since the absence of the Perodua Kembara, Malaysian have been wishing for the true replacement for a cheap, off-roader. The Nautica is not one of those. No one in their right mind would buy a Perodua worth RM90k. Which is why the Duster could make a profit for Renault. A no-frills, SUV that can be cheap and fun to drive? Why aren’t you even selling this? Just base it off the Indian version just like what VW did with the Polo and you got yourself a jeep that can seat five comfortably under RM100k.

Toyota Yaris

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I actually prefer the European Yaris than this one. It is based off a Vios and is more for the Asian market since the EU version as shown in the main picture might be a tad aggressive for buyers. It has been sold in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We Malaysians have been waiting for over a year now. Or maybe we do get the EU version just like Singapore but that seemed unlikely to happen.

Every Manual Transmission Available Today

I recently ranted on about the lack of three-pedaled cars that are available in Malaysia. If you haven’t, you can check it out right here. So, how many cars that are sold brand new in Malaysia are available in manual transmission? Well, you would be shock or probably expected whatever number that comes out is true when it comes to today’s buyers. These list of new cars may not be accurate since there are a few car brands that were omitted or MIA, since little news is heard from them.

Chevrolet Colorado

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Ranger

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Isuzu D-Max

Kia Picanto

Kia Pregio

Land Rover Defender

Lotus Elise S

Lotus Evora

Lotus Exige S

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Maxus V80

Mazda BT-50

Mitsubishi Triton

Nissan Almera

Nissan Grand Livina

Nissan Navara

Nissan 370Z

Perodua Alza

Perodua Axia

Perodua Myvi

Peugeot RCZ

Peugeot 208 GTi

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Proton Exora

Proton Inspira

Proton Iriz

Proton Persona

Proton Preve

Proton Saga

Proton Satria Neo

Proton Suprima S

Renault Megane RS

Subaru WRX

Suzuki Alto

Suzuki Jimny

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Suzuki Swift Sport

Toyota Avanza

Toyota Hiace

Toyota Hilux

Toyota Innova

Toyota Rush

Toyota Vios

Toyota 86

Altogether only 41 models are currently offering a manual transmission and most of them are pick-up trucks, commercial vans, and the national makers. Suzuki and Kia are the only non-local manufacturers that sell city cars with a manual box as seen in the Picanto and Alto. The GWM Haval which was launched early this year may have offered a manual gearbox but so far little has been said about the Chinese maker. Notice that Honda and Volkswagen are absent from the list. None of their car models offer a manual option. Not even the City. It used to be sold in a manual transmission but the new one does not have any offered. The other manual cars offered are for sports cars. However, while Toyota sells an 86 with a manual, its twin, the BRZ is not available in manual. Just an automatic. So, what can be concluded from this? The reason why manual is only offered to these few is based on the demographic buyer of each brands. Protons and Peroduas are mostly bought by first-timers or those who have low-incomes. Other carmakers find it pointless to offer a manual because most of these buyers will be city-dwellers. These demographic will find it a chore to keep changing gears in the city. So, the main reason why there is so few cars out there that offers manual is because of the us. The consumers. It is Marketing 101, the distributors would not offer a variant if it did not sell well otherwise they would not make a profit.

30 Years of Proton. 30 (+4) of its Cars (Worst to Best) (UPDATED)

30 years ago, the personal computers were launched to the masses, the Apple Macintosh was a revolution, and Madonna shocked the world with her VMA performance. It was also the year Malaysia gets its first entry into the automobile scene with Proton. A brainchild of Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, it paved the way in revolutionizing the Malaysian motor industry. By enforcing higher import duties to every single manufacturer except Proton, it has a huge advantage in Malaysia by dominating the market. 30 years later in 2015, the personal computers were reduced to being tablets, the Apple Watch was a revolution, and Madonna shocked the world with her Coachella performance. And Proton did not dominate Malaysia’s automobile market but rather another local manufacturer did; Perodua. But that is another story to tell later. 30 years and the automotive industry has changed as well. Back then you would be dropped dead driving a Hyundai Excel but now the Hyundai Sonata actually looks really appealing. Proton? Well, to put it kindly, they still looked bad but with the Iriz, hopefully things are going well. To celebrate Proton’s 30 year milestone, here is the list of 30 of its cars rated from worst to best.

UPDATE: With Proton launching 4 new models in 2016, we decided to add in the four models. Read on to see where they rank

34. Proton Juara

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Juara means champion in the Malay language. But this is not one. The Juara represents Proton at its worst, The quality is bad and when it was first launched it turned a few heads. It is the lowest selling Proton to date with under a few thousand sold in its three year production. I drove one and I really hated it. Slow, highly unstable when in corners and really fugly to look at.

33. Proton Tiara

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The odd one out. Mainly because it is actually a Citroen underneath instead of a Mitsubishi (The POS Juara was based on a Mitsubishi Town Box van). Cheap when it was made, cheap as chips now with some going for RM1500 in the used car market. A perfect car to hoon around in, i.e. Destroy the shit out of. The car was slow and the design changes actually made it uglier than the cleaner AX its based on. If you want to experience how cheapness feels like, this is the car for you.

32. Proton Arena/Jumbuck

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Proton’s idea of a ute, a pick-up truck based on a car platform. Needless to say, it is the ONLY Proton to sell well in the export market rather than the domestic market. Supposedly highly in demand in Australia especially. That is until a crash test revealed it to be one of the unsafest cars in the market, scoring 1 out of 5 stars. When you sell it for cheap, that is what you get. Based on the old Wira platform, it is more of an urban workhorse rather than an off-roader.

31. Proton Saga LMST

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By the mid-2000s Proton were thinking that their cars are more white goods than real actual cars. So, what did they do? Instead of replacing cars every 5 years, Proton continued to sell the car that started the whole Malaysian motoring revolution, albeit with a facelift. By facelift I meant putting the front of an Iswara and mating it with the rear of a Saga Aeroback. It was supposed to compete with Perodua’s Myvi, instead it became a symbol of Proton’s old-age philosophy that if it still works, why replace it? Proton also used this philosophy to the Wira and Satria. Also, it marked a decline in Proton’s hold in the automobile market. They continued producing this until 2007 when the new Saga replaced it.

30. Proton Perdana Mk1

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Once upon a time, Malaysia had a very strong economy. One that enticed investors from around the world and Malaysia became all of a sudden pretty rich. To accommodate the burgeoning middle class, Proton decided to tackle to upper echelons known as D-segment. What lies beyond this segment is large cars like Camrys and Accords. Needless to say, Proton did succeed. For a while. Production lasted for only 4 years before Proton decided to cut it off. The Perdana soldiered on in a more powerful V6 variant. More on that later.

29. Proton Perdana MkII

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Now, before I proceed, I would like to clarify that the picture shows a Honda Accord. Because essentially, the Perdana Mk II looks exactly like a Honda Accord slapped with Proton badges. Heck, it is even built in a Honda factory! It is not available for the public but rather for high ranking government officials. So, details are pretty scarce but it probably drives, handles, and smells like an Accord.

28. Proton Perdana MkIII

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Unlike the Accordana, the latest Perdana is more than just a simple copy and paste. The whole car is redesigned and is in fact longer than the Accord it was based on. The drivetrain, engine, and well almost everything underneath remains the same as the Accord but it is so expensive. A used Honda Accord costs cheaper to buy and while it may be second hand, it costs similar to maintain The handling is not much to shout about and it is boring to drive. I’ve reviewed it here.

27. Proton Waja Chancellor

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This Waja limousine is one of the rarest Proton cars to be built. The Chancellor is a stretched Waja that offers gizmos like rear air-con and a DVD player. It even has a V6 engine from the Perdana. However, it is only available in automatic, which in a Proton Waja means it is slow and unreliable.

26. Proton Gen-2

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Once again, Proton showed the world why it still did not learn anything when it comes to building cars. Billed as a replacement to the ageing Wira, the Gen-2 actually ticks the box in terms of style and handling. What it lacks is everything else, the quality is bad, the Campro engine is horrible and utterly unreliable, and the car does not even have a glovebox! Proton managed to fix this though.

25. Proton Gen-2 ecoLogic

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Proton managed to fix all that is wrong with the first generation Gen-2 by replacing the Campro engine with a cam profile switching (CPS) update which at least improve the quality. The unique thing about the facelift was not the engine but Proton’s greener variant, the ecoLogic. Only available in the UK, this is actually a converted Gen-2 that is able to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and normal petrol. Essentially, this is Proton’s first hybrid car! Even with a greener fuel alternative offered, Proton looked more like an outdated hippie-wannabe than a modern hipster.

24. Proton Exora

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Before the Exora came about, Proton referred to a book titled “How to Build an MPV” and this is what they came out with, a full MPV package with all the technology and gizmos needed to entertain a family on their trip to the seaside. Except one problem, the car was too heavy and the 1.6-litre Campro engine could not cope with the weight. Thus, it was too slow and being hauled up by one is a common sight in Malaysian traffic jams. In fact most jams in Malaysia are being caused by an Exora because of it being too slow.

23. Proton Ertiga

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Proton’s latest car is just another rebadge of a Japanese car. But hold on, isn’t this the Suzuki Ertiga? Well, yes it is. In other words, meet Malaysia’s newest taxi. It’s cheap, slow, and Proton would gladly sell it to taxi drivers because let’s face it, no one in the public would buy one. It’s high up here compared to the Perdana because it is cheap. On the flipside, you hardly get any equipment. No Bluetooth, a 1.4 litre engine that takes years to reach 100km/h, only thing missing are taxi drivers protesting Uber and Grab. Improve your quality, jackasses!

22. Proton Exora Bold

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Naturally, Proton being Proton updated the car and gave it a facelift as well. With added spoilers and a more youthful look. Oh and did I mention it now has a turbo too? Let’s breathe it all in for a moment. A turbo in an MPV. Not only is the Bold faster than the old Exora, the turbo makes schoolkids feeling proud to have an Exora. “So, what if your Grand Livina has 8 cupholders? My Exora has TURBO!!!” Kudos Proton, at least you actually made this better than the original.

21. Proton Savvy

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“Only unsavvy people drive this car” That is a quote often associated to people who drive a Savvy and also by those who wanted to buy one. In reality the Savvy epitomizes the uniqueness of Proton. Sometimes. The design is quirky, the ads are weird, the gear shifts are unlike any conventional car in Malaysia (i.e. more Euro-centric). Proton’s dark horse. A car that could have been great spoiled by the badge’s reputation.

20. Proton Persona MkI

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Proton’s Gen-2 was code-named WRM, the Wira Replacement Model. Unfortunately, given the huge backlash the Gen-2 faced, Proton launched a saloon variant of the Gen-2 and called it the Persona. This is the true WRM, not the Gen-2. I remember being cross by Proton for calling this their “pride and joy” and now I understand. It is not just a Gen-2 with a boot, it is a Gen-2 done right. Placed low because of the usual complaint with Protons, it feels and looks cheaply made.

19. Proton Persona MkII

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Based on the Iriz, the second generation Persona is smaller than the previous generation but it has a bigger boot. Launched around the same time as Perodua’s Bezza, some people confuse both for being in the same category. The Persona is a lot bigger than the Bezza in terms of engine size and body. Drives and handles well like most new Protons. Too bad about the looks, it takes some getting used to.

18. Proton Saga BLM/FL/FLX

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If you are a student or a fresh graduate, chances are this is your first car. It is either this or a Myvi. The Saga when first launched brought a huge anticipation. It also brought in changes at Proton too. Gone were the days when every Proton gets replaced 20 years later. Now, the Saga has entered multiple refreshes to keep it youthful. Also, the Saga is a joy to drive in the city and could work well in developing countries. Time will tell when Proton decides to export to developing countries.

17. Proton Putra

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A Malaysian modder’s dream, the Putra is Proton’s bland sporty looking coupe. A rarity too since it did not sell well initially. So rare in fact that production lasted for around 3 years from 1999 to 2001 before it relaunched for a year in 2004 to clear its stock. Even rarer is finding one that is bone stock. The Mitsubishi sourced engine is preppy and wonderful.

16. Mitsubishi Lancer Proton Inspira

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Ah yes, the Mitsubishi Lancer Proton Inspira, the car that inspired kids to worship rallying. The Mitsubishi Lancer Proton Inspira is one of those cars that actually drives pretty well even without modifications. Obviously, the Evolution R3 (soon?) variant is the one that gets heads turning but even the stock Lancer Inspira handles well and has a good acceleration. Not to mention that it is also affordably priced.

15. Proton Preve

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The Preve, however you pronounced it, is Proton’s first ever global car. Except that it gets praises in Malaysia but not anywhere else. The Aussies mocked it, the Brits and Singaporeans are indifferent and at least the Thais liked it. The latter loved them so much that at one point, the Proton was one of the fastest growing car companies in Thailand.

14. Proton Wira

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The Proton Wira marked a change for Proton in terms of quality. Want to know which Proton model had the most electrical problems? The Wira. Which model begin to make Proton seem like they have given all hope in exciting buyers? The Wira. Which model made Proton the face of electrical window problems? The Wira. Yet, despite all these criticisms, the Wira was the most exported Proton in the company’s history. Just go to this page to check them out. It was even found in North Korea. North freaking Korea! It is also Proton’s golden egg. A huge success when launched, now a hit among people who wanted to increase the weight a this flab transform it into Mitsubishi Lancers

13. Proton Saga MkIII

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The latest Saga shows Proton’s improvement for its most popular model. Well-equipped and with a lot of room inside, the third-gen Saga is truly a value for money car with the highest spec going around RM45,000. Essentially, it is the same car as the Saga FL/FLX underneath but it has an improved engine and looks better.

12. Proton Perdana V6

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The Perdana V6 is Proton’s most powerful, comfortable, quiet, and a choice for government dignitaries. Like most Protons it has a long cycle, 11 years. Unlike most Protons it still remained desirable and these cars do not come in cheap even in the used market as these cars have low depreciation. That along with most V6s built after 2007-08 are for VIPs, and have a longer rear wheelbase. A bulletproof car with bulletproof performance.

11. Proton Waja CPS

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During the final years of the Proton Waja, Proton replaced the old Mitsubishi engine with the more modern Campro engine and just like the Gen-2 it is also met with criticisms. But the CPS add-on that followed was sweet and marks a great farewell to the aging car. Despite having phallic themes on the rear light cluster. MOOOOVING ON!

10. Proton Satria Cabriolet

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If only they made this. A Satria with its roof cut of makes it look really funky. Especially with that roll bar! Launched as a concept in the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show, the project was shelved due to an economic recession happening in Malaysia. A huge “What If”

9. Proton Satria

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The Satria is Malaysia’s answer to the Honda Civic hatchback. A cool car and another tuner’s blank canvas, the Satria is in one word, youthful. It may not have sold as well as the Wira or the Saga at the time but it has really become a cult classic. Especially the GTi variant. Which is somewhere on this list.

8. Proton Saga Iswara

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It became a laughing prop but despite that, Malaysians loved it. If the Saga revolutionized Malaysia’s motor landscape, the Iswara is the one that made the wheels turned. Most of our family owned one or two, like my uncle. In fact, it has become a symbol of Malaysia, you are not Malaysian if you never sat in an Iswara. It has also become a symbol of hatred by foreign tourists who got cheated by errant taxi drivers. Most of whom drive Iswaras even though they are slowly replaced by more modern cars. The Iswara, the symbol of Malaysian roads.

7. Proton Suprima S

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Admittedly, when the Preve first came out, I thought it was ugly and disproportionate. When the Suprima S came along I thought it was better looking than the Preve and I don’t think I’m alone with this opinion. Just like the Persona and Gen-2, the Suprima S was a much better car than the Preve. It not only looked better, it was better built, quieter and has better to drive than the Preve.

6. Proton Satria Neo

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A youthful-looking Proton? That is something coming from the same car maker that still sells the old Satria for 12 years. The Savvy, while looking funky and all is too funky for today’s 20-something. The Satria Neo on the other hand has a stupidly-funky name straight out of the box labeled “Unused Japanese Car Name Ideas” and yet looks modern enough for youths to buy one. The manual gearbox for this one is pleasant and the CPS version makes the match seem like in heaven.  The R3 version is one of the best handling modern Protons out there. A sweet car for today’s generation.

5. Proton EMAS Concepts

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When Proton commissioned Giugiaro to pen a few Protons, little did everyone know that they are witnessing the cleanest city car design ever. Yes, the Volkswagen up! looks like an unblemished iPod, but the EMAS trio and the fact they have Proton badges make car fanboys from Malaysia squeel like 5 Seconds of Summer fangirls. Also the fact that they were launched in the Geneva Motorshow makes it more deafening. It is AMZING and make us wish that Proton makes this city car a reality.

4. Proton Waja

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OK, I will admit it. The reason why the Waja is placed quite high here is because I have driven this car numerous times and I really like the way the car handles. It may have bad plastics, the air-con only blows to the driver making him feel like he’s in the Arctic, and the buttons are far to reach. But who cares? The gear change is smooth, the engine revs perfectly, the steering is spot on and the fact that it is designed in-house after only 15 years of experience in the industry makes it more amazing to drive. In fact, the interior is probably inspired by BMWs since they are towards the driver as well.

3. Proton Iriz

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Yes, you heard that right. Proton’s newest baby is one the best Protons of the last 30 years. They fixed everything that is wrong about Protons of before and make them better. The noise has been reduced, the quality has been upped tremendously, and the looks speak out modern. It may not have been as clean as the EMAS concept but at least it does not look to fussy. They have finally hit the right notes with the manual gearbox (GETRAG!!) and the engine. The CVT gearbox still has some issues but other than that, it is still a good progress for Proton.

2. Proton Saga

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This is it. Genesis I. The one that paved the way for changes in the Malaysian motor world for good or worse. A brand new car that is cheap, reliable and has a lot of equipment? That was how Proton was being marketed everywhere. Japanese Technology, Malaysian Style was how the Saga and in fact Proton was being marketed in the UK. Proton turned out to be a huge success in the UK and a whopping 33,291 were exported to the UK. In just 7 years, Proton started from nothing to producing 300,000 cars at the end of its lifespan before being replaced with the mechanically similar Iswara.

1. Proton Satria GTi

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Well, obviously. It has to be the legendary cult favourite Satria GTi. Lotus tuning and handling. 138hp Mitsubishi Lancer GSR engine. 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. What more could you ask for? A Proton that handles great with a heck of an engine. And also it is praised by Top Gear’s Richard Hammond. That is star quality in a really exceptional car. No wonder purists wanted a MkII GTi but I think it is better to leave it with just one. The Satria GTi, cult classic, ultra rare to find one that is unmodified or the original model, a true hot hatch and the best Proton to ever come out of the factory.

There you have it, 30 Protons from the past 30 years. Some were special variants, some were mere facelifts. If you have any opinions you would like to share or you’d prefer a Wira over an Iriz, do comment. Here’s to the next 30 years, Proton.