Review: 2007 Proton Persona - Nice proportions, but poor fuel economy
Today I shall write about my 2007 Proton Persona. I usually post car pictures (that I photograph myself) up on Instagram (arif.chan) for fun, but why not write about my own car for a change.
This is the 2007 Persona (CM) which is a variation of the Proton Gen2. You could call this the Gen2 Persona, since they are indeed very similar. This is the 1st Generation Persona (CM), a C-segment saloon. It has no IAFM (Integrated Air Fuel Module) like the facelifted version.
This is what I'm talking about:
Engine: 1.6L Campro S4PH DOHC (4 cylinder in-line)
Drive train: Front Wheel Drive
Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic
Second hand value (2017): ~RM13,000
What's The Big Deal?
The Persona was meant to be the successor to the Proton Wira which was the most popular Malaysian family car in Malaysia back in its day. But the 2007 Persona didn't really make it. Was it there to fill a gap for Proton? You already had the Gen2 as sort of a hatchback and a design shift for Proton and the Waja as a C-segment Saloon with an 'executive' feel.
Proton had succeeded very well in selling saloon cars while Perodua was selling smaller cars in the Malaysian market. However, imports were starting to become more affordable and families were shifting to smaller, more economical cars (Myvi). Proton couldn't just sell itself as the only Malaysian saloon car provider. It needed a new mass seller.
Come to think of it, Proton did have multiple models selling simultaneously in the C-segment. Saga (C20), Wira, Waja, Persona (CM), and Preve - at least two of these were selling simultaneously at one point.
Those who needed a car and could afford the Persona in 2007 were also able to afford other cars; B-segment hatchbacks(Perodua Myvi) and B-segment saloons (Honda City, Toyota Vios). Those who didn't want to spend money on a brand new Myvi, Vios, or City were really just holding on to their Wira, Waja, or Saga. The 2016 B-segment Persona (Iriz derivation) is a little late to the party.
As Someone Who Drives The 2007 Proton Persona 1.6 On A Daily Basis, I Can Testify The Following:
The steering wheel vibrates when you're in Neutral, and putting anything in the door pocket creates a rattling sound. The outside door handle on the passenger side has broken TWICE on this one and the automatic gearbox hesitates to shift up or down when it has to. The acceleration is poor, making overtaking and merging a bit of a chore. And my Persona, in particular, had a crack in the engine head at only 94,000 km on the odometer. That cost RM2,700 to fix.
The CM Persona has space-saving gas hinges at the boot. You don't have to slam the pneumatic-hinged boot hard because it will slam itself (Parents with little kids take note) and the boot does not have a handle.
Also, the radio can be a bit crazy.
Why Do I Still Drive Mine?
I'm broke. It is an alright car if you already have it. That's what it is - An alright car. Chances are you would spend more on fuel per month if you travel a lot but it would be cheaper to finance than a brand new car. The build quality is actually pretty good. It's certainly better than some Kia models from that year. It has never overheated for as long as I have driven it, the power window on the drivers side has never failed me, and I've spent money for a new engine head so I am a bit more financially and emotionally invested already. Proton also has a reputation for good air conditioning (If you are a Proton driver, you know what I'm talking about).
The 2007 Persona 1.6 sits low (in comparison to most modern cars) and that makes it fun to drive through corners. The hydraulic power steering provides just the right amount of feedback and is not at as flimsy as a Nissan Almera's Electronic Power Steering (EPS). If you are an aggressive driver, the 2007 Persona helps you drive more sensibly because the throttle won't respond immediately to your heavy foot. (Parents of young male drivers take note)
The interior is fine. I don't understand when people say a car's interior has a 'plasticky' feel. Interiors are usually plastic. It's either well built or not. I spend most of my driving time looking through the windscreen so interiors don't really faze me. Shifting from from Reverse to Drive through Neutral and back is smooth, so you won't find yourself jerking back on forth as you try to park the 2007 Proton Persona.
What Should You Buy Instead?
If you are still looking for a C-segment Persona, get the face-lifted one. The IAFM model. The one with the dark headlights, new tail lights, bigger side mirrors, side mirror indicators, and a new radio. Second hand models start at around RM20,000.
It is usually wiser to buy a car's facelifted version, especially if it is towards the end of the production of that chassis.
Because they would have gotten customer feedback and they would have improved certain manufacturing or assembly processes.
You can wait a while until it goes down a little. The IAFM helps solve the low end torque problem, which means the acceleration is better. Look for an M-Line or H-Line because all the added features won't cost much in the used car market (steering radio control, fog lights, sport rims). Try renting one first and see if you like it.
1st Gen (S4PH) Gen VS 2nd Gen (IAFM)
The 1st Generation is on the left and the 2nd Generation is on the right.
The IAFM model will have the airfilter on the left side of the engine instead of behind it. I believe this is to make place for the IAFM (Integrated Air Fuel Module). IAFM helps solve the low end torque problem of the S4PH engine. IAFM means you have 2 different intake paths for different engine speeds. This is controlled by the engine vacuum.
2. Bigger Side Mirrors And Side Mirror Indicators
The bigger mirrors give you more visibility and come with side mirror indicators.
3. New Radio
The 1st generation Blaupunkt Radio on mine can get a bit crazy. It switches radio frequencies as it wishes. The controls are also less intuitive for the first-time user. The newer Blaupunkt Radio is more reliable, comes with an audio jack, and a USB port (for media only, no charging).
4. More Reliable Tail Lights
1st gen tail light bulbs tend to blow easily. Just look around you when you're at a traffic light at night.
5. Boot Lid Handle
It is very subtle but the newer one has a boot handle. Just a little slot for your four fingers. The boot still pulls itself shut hard so parents of little children take note.
If you are not looking for a used C-segment Persona, your choice can only be limited by your budget. I look forward to writing about more cars in the future.