- We like...A lot of car for the money
- We don't...Poor cabin, noisy engine
It's plenty of car for not much money. But ds a budget brand like this really add up?With a car like this, we were hoping to bring you a surprise. We wanted badly to say ‘OK, this is cheap. But, don’t be deceived by its image, it’s actually quite good.’
But, truth be told, it is no better or worse than you’d expect of a budget make. Spend the £10,795 asked for this Proton on a mainstream make and you’d end up with a well kitted-out supermini – a Vauxhall Corsa or a Renault Clio. This is a Ford Focus-sized saloon, so you’re jumping up a size for your cash. And, from the outside, it fronts up as clean and modern, with the alloy wheels fitted as standard helping its looks. Cabin space is generous and the boot can take at least three big suitcases. So far, so good.
But, sit behind the wheel and the Persona feels old-school. You realise how things have moved on across the years. The seats are patterned velour and the stereo looks like a cheapie bought from Tesco, even though it’s supplied by Blaupunkt, a respected make. The wheel has a modern look and has radio controls built in but the plastics used to make it are low-rent to look at and to touch. The heater controls are stacked vertically on the centre console, and to adjust the direction of airflow you have to stretch almost to the cabin floor, although at least the standard air conditioning blows strong and cold.
The control stalks look as if lifted straight from a mid-1990s Japanese saloon. If you switch to the Persona from an older car, the way the cabin looks and feels will be just fine. But if you’re used to driving anything fairly modern, it's a let-down.
On the move the gears select cleanly and the steering has fair but not undue weight. But the engine kicks up a fair noise once the revs build, booming and droning. It's not especially quick but its fuel economy and CO2 figures are reasonable. The Persona rides acceptably but rarely settles and is easily upset when pattering over broken Tarmac. And the suspension in ours became noisy at times, clonking as it worked hard.
The Persona is well kitted for the price, adding remote central locking and electric mirrors to the standard air con we’ve mentioned. One gripe, though. The boot dsn’t work off the remote locking system: you must open it by using the key, or by tugging at a release lever set into the floor next to the driver’s seat. On ours, this lever wouldn’t release the catch. A minor point but one that hardly builds confidence for a long trouble-free life with the car.
Should you get one? Well, it’s cheap, looks OK from the outside and it drives competently. And you’ll struggle to buy much else its size for similar money, unless you go for second-hand. But, think on this first: most Protons lose close to three quarters of their value by the time they are three years old. So a £10,000 car will be worth little more than £2500. That’s poor. By comparison, spend £13,000 on a Volkswagen Golf and over the same three years, it can be expected to lose roughly £6500. So lowest priced isn’t always cheapest.
That said, if you want one now, Proton is offering a £1000 discount.
- 0-60 mph12.6
- Insurance groups7
Motors.co.uk value verdict: