Sunday, October 24, 2010

Proton Rebadges Mitsubishi Lancer and Calls it Inspira. Too bad it isn't an EVO..

Proton, Malaysia's national carmaker and owners of Lotus, has taken the wraps of its latest model. No, you aren't looking at a cheesy Photoshop and this isn't an April Fools joke come six months late: this is the firm's new mid-sized Inspira sedan.

For those of you fooled by the *cough* deceptive *cough* restyling Proton has done, the Inspira (from the Bahasa Malaysia word 'Inspirasi' which means 'Inspiration') is based on the current generation Mitsubishi Lancer.

Priced at a tentative RM79,888 (US$25,654), deliveries of the Inspira will start in November. For some comparison, in Malaysia a base model Mazda3 sells for roughly RM30,000 (US$10,000) more.

Managing Director Dato' Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir is very happy with the new model:

"We maintain our stance in making valuable products more affordable for Malaysians. The car's distinctive sporty personality has been further enhanced by us with the injection of the renowned Lotus DNA of excellent ride & handling, while localisation of parts has enabled us to introduce the Inspira at an affordable price. With these combined, what we have here is what we believe to be another right car, at the right price and at the right time by PROTON."

The Inspira gets all the goodies the Lancer gets including a choice of a 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines, adaptive CVT with paddle shifters, cruise control, dusk-sending headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, climate control air conditioning and (presumably) 5 star ANCAP safety.

The Inspira is the first tangible result of the new strategic alliance between Proton and Mitsubishi, though the two companies have had close ties for years. In the mid to late '90s, Proton brought three cars to Australia that were little more than rebadges of current generation Mitsubishi models. Suffice to say, only the most cash strapped of buyers saw the Wira, Satria and M21 as anything but knockoff Mitsubishis.

Carscoop will have more details and pictures as they come through.

By Tristan Hankins