Proton’s History of 1990s

Proton Wira saloon. Apart from Malaysia, the Wira was also assembled in Indonesia, Vietnam, Iran and the Philippines.

Proton Wira Aeroback. Over 952,216 Wiras were sold in around 65 countries worldwide.[8]

Photo : Wira Aeroback

On 15 August 1992, the Proton Saga Iswara was launched. It shares the older Mitsubishi platform used in the original Proton Saga, but its exterior and interior styling are unique to Proton. The Saga Iswara was widely used as taxicabs in Malaysia during the 1990s and 2000s, and many continue in service to the present day. 21 May 1993 witnessed the introduction of the Proton Wira, a car which was better equipped and larger than both the Saga and Saga Iswara. The Wira is based on the fourth-generation 1991 Mitsubishi Lancer and was sold in a four-door saloon guise at launch.

The Proton Wira Aeroback, a five-door hatchback variant featuring a Proton-designed rear-end joined the range in 1994. Both the Wira saloon and hatchback shared six different engines by 1996, all of which were sourced from Mitsubishi Motors. The engines included the tried and tested 4G13 1.3L and 4G15 1.5L carried over from the Proton Saga, the newer 4G92 1.6L, 4G93 SOHC and DOHC 1.8L and the 4D68 2.0L diesel. The Wira was the first Proton car to be produced in both right-hand drive (RHD) and left-hand drive (LHD) configurations, and remains the only Proton car made available with a diesel engine.

Photo : Wira Sedan

[9] In 1995, Proton launched the three-door Proton Satria hatchback and the two-door Proton Putra coupé, both of which are based on the Wira platform and powered by the same range of Mitsubishi engines offered in the Wira, with the exception of the 2.0L diesel. The Proton Wira saloon and hatchback as well as the Proton Satria and Putra were aggressively exported and marketed across the European Union and Middle East during the 1990s. The Proton Perdana, a premium D-segment saloon was also launched in 1995 for sale exclusively in the Malaysian market.

It is based on the seventh generation 1992 Mitsubishi Eterna and was initially fitted with Mitsubishi’s 4G63 2.0-litre l4 engine, but was offered with the superior 177bhp 6A12 DOHC 2.0L V6 engine after 1999. The Perdana remains the only D-segment, V6 powered car to be commercially produced by Proton. A Citroën AX-based 1.1-litre five-door supermini called the Proton Tiara debuted in 1996. It was the result of a joint venture between Proton and PSA Peugeot Citroën, a collaboration which was later abandoned after the death of Proton’s then CEO, Tan Sri Yahaya Ahmad in 1997.

On 30 October 1996, Proton acquired an 80% stake in Lotus Group International Limited, valued at £51 million.[10] The controlling interest was purchased from A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, a company controlled by Italian businessman Romano Artioli, then also the owner of Bugatti. Proton’s stake in Lotus was later increased to 100% in 2003.[11] The acquisition of Lotus witnessed the involvement of the British company in the development of suspension and handling elements of all Proton cars launched since 1996. The Proton Satria GTi, widely regarded as the best Malaysian car ever produced owes much of its success to Lotus’ contributions.[12]

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