Proton Impian (2006)

Proton Impian

From the initial design sketches, through prototyping and development to production of the Proton Impian, first passenger car to be created entirely in Malaysia, Proton engineers have set out to reward owners with a driving experience in the highly competitive D sector that is second to none.

That they have succeeded is due in no small measure to a unique combination of engineering excellence and design flair. Proton's pragmatic approach to worldwide market requirements blends the best of Malaysian creativity with European engineering precision and Japanese manufacturing skills.

To create a safe and soothing environment for driver and passengers, Proton engineers have been supported by a Malaysian-based project team established by EDAG, the German body engineering specialists, while the Proton Impian's ride comfort and pin sharp handling reflect the silky skills of Lotus suspension tuning experts previously paraded in Proton's acclaimed Satria GTi.

The result is a car with clean, crisp styling that provides occupants with impressive safety standards and drivers with full control, no matter what the conditions. The reinforced body structure is among the strongest in its class, giving greater torsional rigidity for less body roll, better road-holding and a solid, European feel to the driving experience.

Setting even higher quality standards, the Proton Impian is manufactured using the latest modular construction techniques in a new factory alongside Proton's main plant at Shah Alam near Kuala Lumpur. Modular integration allows each module to be stronger and more rigid, at the same time reducing weight.

Above all Proton's first home-grown product demonstrates a maturity and level of competence not previously expected of the youngest Pacific rim manufacturer to make its mark in a global market place. With the opening of a £62 million Research and Development Centre at Shah Alam two years ago, Proton has the capability to design vehicles in-house from concept to production, using the latest CATIA design and simulation work stations together with a rapid prototyping facility to halve component design time and dramatically reduce costs.

A state of the art emissions laboratory at the centre is fully approved by the UK's Road Transport Department Vehicle Certification Authority, while sophisticated suspension compliance and measurement rigs coupled with training from Lotus specialists has given Proton engineers the ability to achieve world-class ride and handling standards.

Malaysia's primary national car manufacturer has come a long way since the first Mitsubishi-based car rolled off the production line in 1985 and the Proton Impian personifies a new ambition to produce products that are technically advanced, great value and satisfying to drive.

Initially available as a four door compact executive saloon with a 1.6 litre Mitsubishi petrol engine, the Proton Impian range will be later expanded with higher derivative variants, while a whole new generation of powerful yet highly efficient engines unveiled recently by Lotus is being readied for use in 2003.

A range of derivative models is currently under development at the R & D Centre, and Proton is also planning the launch of a mid-engined 2+2 sports car based on the Lotus M250 chassis in two years time.

Inner Strength

Thicker steel has been used to reinforce the entire body structure of the new car for maximum rigidity and reduced deformation in collisions. This has also helped to minimise road vibrations and noise transmitted through the suspension mountings.

A recyclable plastic fuel tank module is 15 per cent lighter than in previous Proton models and is designed to withstand a 30 mph rear impact from another vehicle. Modular construction is also used for the doors, front suspension assembly, strut and shock absorber mountings and for brake mountings.

Longer, wider and taller than the Proton Wira, the Proton Impian is also crucially 100 mm longer in the wheelbase. This adds up to more leg, head and shoulder room for added comfort. Spacious accommodation for up to five adults is supported by a wide, easy to load 15.5 cubic feet luggage compartment, which houses a space saving spare wheel and storage tray.

Safe and sure footed

Coil-sprung MacPherson strut front suspension and coil-sprung multilink rear suspension are enhanced by stabiliser bars to create the right balance between precise handling responses transmitted through rack and pinion progressive power steering and ride comfort.

In tuning the spring rates and dampers to achieve this goal, Lotus Engineering conducted exhaustive development work on steering effort and response, linearity, straight-line handling, cornering, lane changing, body control, wheel control and smoothness of ride before the Proton Impian was brought to market. The result is a car that scores eight A's in every facet of ride and handling.

In benchmark tests against such established and acclaimed D sector models as the Audi A4, Honda Accord and Vauxhall Vectra, the Proton Impian established a clear lead in overall ride and handling. With just 2.8 turns from lock to lock, steering response from the alloy wheels shod with 195/55R 15 tyres is direct and positive.

The driver's control of vehicle dynamics is further enhanced by the fitting of traction control as standard equipment to UK-spec cars. Dependable braking over all road surfaces is assured by 10in diameter disc brakes all round, ventilated at the front, plus four-wheel electronic ABS.

Flexible performance

Lower fuel consumption, noise and vibration levels, plus improved flexibility and response are delivered by the latest version of the lightweight Mitsubishi 1.6 litre 4G18 S4 petrol engine fitted to the new model.A plastic intake manifold and redesigned pistons, fuel injectors and distributor have saved space and reduced weight, while a new cooling system, engine stay and cylinder block reinforcement contribute to quieter running.

The four cylinder engine's design features improved cooling and lubrication of the cylinder block. A metal head gasket and wider timing belt ensure even better reliability and consumables such as transmission and engine oil, filters and spark plugs boast extended service intervals.

The new engine delivers increased power and torque than previous 1.6 engines used by Proton for enhanced driveability and economy, while emissions comply with European Step III regulations. Drive is either through a five-speed manual gearbox or optional four-speed electronic automatic transmission.

Safety and comfort

Ergonomic layout of all controls coupled with use of high quality materials in harmonious shades have dictated the design of the new model's passenger compartment. Fascia and seat styling reflects the latest thinking on interior design, with all functions within easy reach and view to help the driver maintain concentration on the road at all times.

Speedometer, tachometer and ancillary gauges monitoring water temperature and fuel level are positioned alongside a warning light panel directly ahead of the driver. Face level fresh air vents are positioned either side of the instrument panel and the driver's view ahead is protected from instrument glare by a stylish curved hood. Below the vents in the strategically-angled centre console are push button controls for secondary functions and a built-in stereo system, which has been ergonomically designed and acoustically tuned by Clarion specially for the Proton Impian.

Controls for the sound system are high mounted in the driver's field of vision to avoid driver distraction and push button controls for volume and station search are incorporated in the 14in. three spoke height adjustable steering wheel, which also houses an electronic driver's airbag.

Primary controls such as headlamps, indicators and wipers/mist washers are mounted on steering column stalks and Proton has even reversed the traditional right side indicator position found on most Pacific rim vehicles to suit European tastes.

Easy to use controls for the standard air conditioning are also to be found in the centre console, which sweeps down to incorporate an ashtray, cigarette lighter, cubby hole, gear shift, handbrake, cup holders and centre armrest concealing a storage bin. Ahead of the front passenger is a fascia-mounted airbag above the large glove compartment and both front seat occupants gain addition impact protection from side airbags.

Body hugging, reclining front seats with adjustable head restraints have 240 mm of fore and aft adjustment, while the driver's seat has hand controls to adjust seat height and lumbar support. Velour upholstery and deep pile carpeting is standard fitment, while the 1.6X is trimmed with Connolly leather upholstery.

Rear seats incorporating vertically adjustable head restraints and a folding central armrest feature 60/40 split and a child seat restraint anchorage. Moulded interior door trim conceals six-piece impact protection that complies with EU side impact safety requirements and windows are electrically powered front and rear.Finger-tip safety-touch controls for all four windows plus child-proof security lock are conveniently located for the driver in the front door armrest, while grab handles above each door and sun visors flush-fold into the moulded headlining.

To the Proton Impian's already impressive inventory of standard equipment, UK customers will benefit from seat belt pre-tensioner and load limiters for the front seats, electrically adjustable door mirrors (electric folding and heated on 1.6X), front door-open warning lights, remote central door locking with keyless entry, alarm and engine immobiliser. In-car entertainment has been acoustically tuned to suit the shape of the Proton Impian cabin. A flexible roof-mounted B sting antenna and stereo RDS radio and a single CD or auto-reverse cassette player provide high quality sound reproduction through two bass, two mid-range and two domed tweeter speakers. Reading lamps are provided for front and rear passengers and there are courtesy lights on both front doors. Either side of the new model's distinctive front grille are twin projector-type halogen headlamps, with indicator and auto-cancelling fog lamps integrated in the body-coloured front bumper. A high level brake light is incorporated into the boot lid, while one-piece tail light assemblies incorporate reverse and auto-cancelling fog lamps.