Thursday, April 25, 2013

Used Car Review - Proton Wira (1995-2000)

Curious about this vehicle? Well, Myk Belmonte saves the day by giving out information about this car.

1995-1998 Proton Wira

Upon reading this very first paragraph, the first question you will ask why would Myk review a Proton Wira which is essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer Itlog?? My dear friend, this is because that some buyers on a budget are interested about the details of this car and for the aim of reviewing every used car (from legit car makers and distributors) available locally.

If the Lancer Itlog was made available in 1991, the Wira arrived in Proton showrooms two years later. It supplanted the Proton Saga (with the first generation a fixture in Malaysia's taxi industry) and this was the second Mitsubishi based Proton. Everything from the Lancer was lifted except the taillights, bumpers, and dashboard. Body configurations include a sedan and hatchback while the engine menu consists of a carburetor and electronic fuel injected four cylinders and a rare diesel mover. This nameplate remained on sale until 2007 with the Proton Persona replacing it.

Fidel V. Ramos was very supportive of the automotive industry before that allowed Proton to set up shop in the Philippines through Proton Pilipinas Inc (later renamed as Auto Prominence). They did have an assembly plant in Alaminos Pangasinan (that was not used in the long run) but with the financial crisis affecting Asia, the Malaysian car maker was thrown in the towel. Available variants includes the GLi for the 1.3 and 1.5 and the XLi for the 1.6. The XLi can be ordered in both sedan and liftback dubbed as the Aeroback.

Value and Costs
When it was brand new, Proton's retail prices are lower and fully equipped than that of the equivalent Lancer, however no thanks to the "Pizza" body from Mitsu the Malaysian's advantage disappeared. Even Korean car makers had units driving off showrooms but because they are cheaper. Nowadays, second hand prices can range between P55,000-P100,000, lower than the Lancer Itlog of course. There also exists a sports edition with body kits and a different set of rims released in 1998, which is priced in the upper side of the spectrum.

Rumor has it that Proton service technicians advised owners that they can service their Wiras in Mitsubishi dealers only to find out that they have been rejected. If some people advise you not to buy one because of parts scarcity, you can purchase Lancer parts because they are identical. However, some parts like OEM tailights and bumpers requires patience, but this is impossible with the internet age since you can order them anywhere in the world. Suspension problems inherited from its Japanese cousin can be carried and with that, better check the unit well.

Exterior and Interior
Honestly speaking, there is not much to describe about the Wira's design due to the fact it is a rebadged Lancer. However, the difference from one is the availability of rear disc brakes in the XLi trim, different set of alloy wheels and the tailight design. The Aeroback version is one sexy car and oozing with appeal.

Thanks to the designers at Proton, they decided to use their own dashboard design than using Mitsubishi's, it was brittle controls no more. Room inside is comparable to the Lancer Itlog, so passengers no need to complain.

While the Wira offers the same engine palette as the Lancer, the 4G13 engine which offers 73hp has its fuel delivered through an electronic fuel injection system than that of the Lancer's carb. Otherwise, the 4G15 with 92hp and 4G92 with 114hp at 6,000rpm and 134Nm at 4,500rpm are the same when I describe it. To sum these engines, they offer the best balance between low and high end torque.

Driving Impressions
Surely the Wira carries the same suspension combination that the Lancer has, but driving dynamics is below par no thanks to the small diameter wheels with narrow section tyres. Still, the suspension and steering are inherited which makes up to this shortcoming.

Having a small budget can mean catastrophe, but one must have the patience of researching for vehicles falling under the price bracket. The Proton Wira is a left behind choice but offers more than what the Lancer Itlog had at a lower price. Parts is not trouble since you can get them from the Japanese counterpart. It is a five digit economy car no more no less.

The Good:
  • Cheaper and well equipped than the equivalent Lancer Itlog
  • Available Aeroback version
  • Accommodation is excellent
The Bad:
  • What problems may the Lancer Itlog have, the Wira also has
  • Some quality problems
  • Some parts are not available
The Pick: 1.6 XLi MT Aeroback

Engines: 1,298cc 4G13, 1,485cc 4G15, and 1,597 4G92 I4 gasoline
Power: 73hp (1.3), 92hp (1.5), 114hp @ 6,000rpm (1.6)
Torque: No data available for the 4G13 and 4G15. 134Nm @ 4,500rpm (1.6)
Fuel Consumption: 8-11km/L (city), 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut with stabilizer, rear multilink with stabilizer

Price (New): P300,000-P500,000 (estimated)
Price (Now): P55,000-P100,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic, Mazda 323 Familia, Daewoo Racer, Daewoo Espero, Daewoo Cielo
On Sale: 1995-1998

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