First drive of Proton Perdana to Malacca

By THOMAS HUONG | 2 August 2016


When the eighth-generation Honda Accord was launched locally in April 2008, it was touted as among the biggest D-segment premium sedans.

Also called the Inspire in Japan, that model is the largest Accord ever produced, and that should give you a good idea about the size of the new Proton Perdana 2016. Under a deal with Honda Motor, the new Perdana uses the eighth-generation Accord platform as well as powertrains, safety features and driving technologies.

However, it’s not just a simple rebadge job for the new Proton flagship, as the national automaker has given the previous Accord a massively different exterior design, as well as slight enhancements in handling and comfort features.

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Size-wise, at five metres in length, it’s just marginally longer than the previous Accord. The new Perdana gets a sporty fastback design courtesy of Proton, and this gives it a dynamic look that radiates smooth power.

Proton chief designer Azlan Othman said the Perdana’s design is meant to convey style and elegance. Highlights here include stylish headlamps with connecting chrome finish to the Proton “wings” front grille for a more distinctive look, chromed door window surrounds, an aerodynamic shark fin antenna, rear combination lamps with LED lights, and sporty lower diffuser.

The car’s lower front lip features a sleek and wide air intake which also lends a premium look to the front fascia.
Incidentally, Othman also said the new Perdana, and the upcoming Proton Persona and Saga are designed as a family. “When all the cars are out, you will be able to see similarities in the design,” he said.

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The new Persona is due to be launched in August, followed by the new Saga in September, and a Suzuki Ertiga-based MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) in October.

As for the interior, it will feel familiar to owners of the previous Accord, as the dashboard design and instrumentation is mostly unchanged, with the exception of a Proton supplied 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system below the central air-conditioning vents. This system has radio, CD, Bluetooth, AUX and USB features and is mated to six speakers.

This is a nice touch by Proton for its new flagship, as the previous Accord came from an era where touchscreen systems were uncommon. As for the mechanical hardware, the new Perdana is offered in two variants, namely 154hp/189Nm 2.0-litre SOHC and a 178hp/222Nm 2.4-litre DOHC engined units priced on-the-road at RM113,888 and RM138,888 respectively.

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Proton offers a 5-year or 150,000km (whichever comes first) for the new Perdana. Both are Honda i-VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) engines, mated to a familiar 5-speed automatic transmission.
Exterior-wise, there isn’t much to differentiate the two Perdana variants.

You can still tell the difference though, as the 2.4-litre unit gets a chromed lower front lip garnish, and a rear spoiler. As for the interior, the 2.0-litre unit has a dark-themed cabin with black mixed fabric/leather seats, while the 2.4-litre unit gets classy beige leather seats.

As for standard kit, both Perdana variants have projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, dual zone automatic air-conditioning, 8-way powered driver seat, and a reverse camera. Also standard are four airbags, ABS (anti-lock brake system) and EBD (electronic brake force distribution), front active head rests, automatic headlamps, front seatbelts with dual pre-tensioner, front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX points and top tether mount point, and all-round disc brakes, and tyres sized 225/50 with 17-inch wheels.

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While the standard kit is adequate for a D-segment saloon, you do get a fair bit more by paying an extra RM25,000. The 2.4-litre Perdana not only has more power, but it also gets extras like ESC (electronic stability control), paddle shifters, audio subwoofer, DVD playback, GPS navigation, 4-way powered front passenger seat, full leather seats, and HID headlamps with auto levelling.

Like the previous Accord, the new Perdana has an independent double wishbone front suspension (instead of the MacPherson strut front on the current Accord). To put that into perspective, the double wishbone suspension is usually preferred by premium and performance cars as it provides a good balance between handling and ride comfort.

However, the MacPherson strut is more commonly used nowadays as it is simpler, less expensive, lighter and more compact. Proton recently organised a media test drive of the new Perdana, on a 200km route from Proton Centre of Excellence in Subang Jaya to Malacca.



Our cars were fitted with Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres, and we drove on a mix of highway and trunk roads, with a lunch stopover in Port Dickson. It was no surprise that the new Perdana handles well, and feels very planted with little body roll when we drove at high speeds.

It has been years since we drove the previous Accord, but in the new Perdana, it was a case of deja vu for us.
While the 2.4-litre unit provided enjoyable power and quick acceleration, there was no noticeable lack of grunt from the 2.0-litre unit.

Floor the throttle on the 2.0-litre unit, and you get responsive, lively acceleration and gusty response - a familiar quality with Honda’s 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine and 5-speed torque converter-type automatic gearbox.

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We found more than ample rear leg and headroom, as the previous Accord also had the most spacious cabin in the Accord line-up (it should be noted that the ninth-generation Accord is said to have a roomier cabin, despite being slightly smaller in size).

The only niggle we had was the audio volume of the parking sensors, which we found to be deafeningly loud.
While the reverse parking sensors can’t be controlled, you can disable the front parking sensors via a button behind the steering wheel.

In summary, the new Perdana has head-turning looks, and familiar Japanese driving technologies which combine well for a premium, sporty and refined ride quality.

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