Proton is a very recent addition to the motoring world. Proton was keen to start its contribution to the car market by purchasing up earlier versions of successful car makers products and selling them cheap to secure a healthy portion of the budget end of the market. The first model was based on technology and parts from Mitsubishi Motors.
The story of Proton began in September 1985 at its first manufacturing plant in Shah Alam, Selangor (a state in Malaysia). Up until the end of the 1990s, Proton cars had a logo that featured the crest from Malaysia’s coat of arms – a crescent moon and a fourteen-pointed star. The new Proton logo looks superb, however, and has a stylized tiger head. And for all you Australian rugby league nuts out there, you will be glad to know that Proton Cars Australia is proud to have the naming rights in sponsoring the Sydney-based Wests Tigers for 2013 and beyond.
When the first Proton (the Proton Saga) appeared on Malaysian roads, it was at least a grand cheaper than other car marques in the same 1.3 to 1.5 litre class on the Malaysian market. Of course, the consumers were proud of their home grown car manufacturer and sales increased rapidly. By 1988, the Proton had overtaken all other car marques sold in Malaysia, and they grabbed 73 per cent of the passenger car market.
Malaysian government policies have definitely helped keep the Proton cheaper than other car marques by means of over-taxing its competition. Duties on packages of parts for assembly into complete import cars in Malaysia are around 150 per cent. This, of course, leaves the Proton by far and away the cheapest and most wallet-friendly car choice for the car buyer on the domestic market in Malaysia. Over here and elsewhere, the Proton remains a very good buy at a low price. Maybe the design hasn’t got the flair of others, but Protons are cheap and they’re not outright ugly, so for those who want something straightforward, they’re a good buy.
The Proton models through the nineties were largely based upon the Mitsubishi Lancer/Colt and the Mitsubishi Galant/Eterna cars. It was not until 2001 that the Proton Waja/Impian was produced. This car was the first model completely designed and built by Proton.
With the acquisition of Lotus technologies in 1996, Proton has gained an additional source of engineering and automotive know-how. The bonus from owning the Lotus car company is that the Protons since 1996 have had their handling package tweaked by Lotus, which has made an improvement throughout the range, particularly on the GTi model.
If you are interested, in Australia, dealers can be found in all the states. New South Wales leads the charge with 11 dealers and 12 service centres – not surprising, considering Proton’s sponsorship of the Wests Tigers.
Back to Car Reviews