Proton P3-21A - More Info to Digest
The anticipation for Proton's new P3-21A sedan continues to build up. As noted in our coverage of the Proton Power of 1 event at Bukit Jalil yesterday, a soft launch for the model has already taken place and bookings are being accepted at showrooms nationwide. The internet has since been flooded with various information of the vehicle, the most pertinent being a very genuine-looking leaked specs sheet on funtasticko design's blog.
Today, we had an opportunity to dig info straight from the source, and it was none other than Dr Wolfgang Epple, Senior Director Operations and Project Director of P3-21A. To give you a bit of a background, Epple was pinched from BMW, and the most telling reference on his CV was his role as the man in charge of developing the E90 3 Series. Serious pedigree then.
Earlier this morning, Dr Epple engaged members of the Malaysian media in a brief interview focused on the development and features of the P3-21A. The objective of the interview was to project the message that the P3-21A is ready to take on the best in the market. Indeed, Dr Epple pointed out that the P3-21A was benchmarked against the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus. Sensible choices in our opinion - the Civic and Corolla represents popular market choices, whilst the Focus' dynamics far surpasses the competition, even if it is an outgoing model.
The P3-21A is set to represent a huge quantum leap for Proton in many respects - ride and handling, safety, quality, technology, and performance. Word from inside the company is that this is going to be the best Proton ever, though one should bear in mind that we have heard this claim from Proton before, most noticeably when the Waja was launched.
Indeed, it was surprising - and on a personal note, pleasing - to note that until today, the Waja's body shell is the stiffest ever offered in a Proton car - with an overall stiffness of 13,000 N/mm. Dr Epple tells us that the P3-21A betters that significantly, raising the figure to 18,000 N/mm. The benefits of a stiffer chassis are enormous. In addition to offering better crash protection, it helps to improve ride, handling, and NVH insulation.
Overall development process of the P3-21A took 21 months, though Proton did not exactly start from scratch. The frontal subframe and floor pan is taken from the Exora, but the rear has been altered to fit a multi-link rear suspension in place of the Exora's torsion beam. This revelation is unsurprising when you recall pictures of a certain flattened Exora test mule that was circulating in the Internet. We got a good look under that particular mule some time back, and its multi-link rear suspension was the first thing to catch the eye.Another aspect of the P3-21A that will be greatly improved from previous Protons is safety. Stability control and side airbags will offered for the first time in a Proton, and Dr Epple noted that the P3-21A is designed with the aim of scoring five stars from Euro NCAP. Of course, it is extremely important to emphasize that the car has not yet passed any tests from Euro NCAP, but that Proton has designed the car to be compliant with the agency's highest rating. To use a student's analogy, Proton has studied for the exam, but the report card certainly isn't out yet.
Proton has yet to commit to a confirmed launch date for the P3-21A, nor has it divulged the new model's name. We do know that Tanjung Malim is already churning out the full production models, so launch date will certainly be in the next month or so. Meanwhile, the engineers have added the engine and front suspension assembly to the bare chassis being displayed at the Power of 1 carnival. We will leave you with the relevant pictures.http://www.autoworld.com.my/v2/news/nb_det...d=RT.ATC.CAR.PV