Australia has become a smorgasboard of world cars, with models arriving from Britain, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the USA. The international line-up has been joined by the Malaysian-built Proton Wira and will initially be sold through 23 dealers in all States.
It’s the first affordable car to be sold here with a three-year, unlimited distance warranty.
Taking advantage of the very strong Japanese yen, Proton plans to sell five of the nine-model range in Australia for under the psychological barrier of $20,000.
The Proton Wira is a thoroughly conventional design based on Mitsubishi’s Lancer and sold as a sedan or five-door hatchback.
Two multipoint fuel-injected engines are offered: a 1.5-litre overhead camshaft unit with three valves per cylinder and a 1.6-litre, OHC version with four valves per cylinder.
The 1.5 engine puts out 66 kW at 6000 rpm, the 1.6 delivers 83 kW at 6000 rpm.
Three transmissions are offered: five-speed manual, three-speed automatic and four-speed auto.
The price-leading Proton Wira, the 1.5GL sedan, retails for $17,450 and comes with a five-speed manual transmission only. It has non-power steering and a four-speaker AM/FM radio-cassette system.
The Wira 1.5GLi is sold as a sedan or hatch, both selling from $18,990. They have power steering, central door-locking body-coloured bumpers and an optional three-speed auto transmission.
The Wira XLi has a 1.6-litre engine and is sold with sedan or hatch body for $20,990 with manual transmission or $22,490 with a four-speed auto.
Its standard equipment includes wider wheels and tyres, rear-wheel disc brakes, power windows and mirrors, split rear seat backrests and a six-speaker stereo system.
The sedan and hatch have ample front seat room for large adults while the rear seat has slightly better than average legroom but is shy on headroom for tall passengers.
The fully independent suspension uses MacPherson struts at the front and rear with passive rear-wheel steering.
There are front disc brakes on all models, with rear drums or discs, depending on the specification level. Neither ABS brakes nor airbags are offered but cruise control is an extra cost item.
The Proton company was set up in the early 1980s by the Malaysian government with help from Mitsubishi. It launched its first car in 1985 and has since put more and more of its own design into successive models. Some parts, including the engines and drivelines, still come from Japan