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Ap­par­ently, Pro­ton is – and it’s about to re­lieve that un­cer­tainty

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

Malaysian mar­ket, and has new man­age­ment at home to back the drive and end the per­cep­tion that the com­pany is just part of the coun­try’s public ser­vice.

The new­comer is the Preve. It will be in show­rooms in Septem­ber with a start­ing price that should be about $18,000.

Pro­ton Cars Australia says the Preve will be a ri­val to the Kia Cer­ato and Hyundai i30. It will fol­low the baby Ex­ora peo­ple-mover, tak­ing over from un­der­whelm­ing ef­forts in­clud­ing the S16 and – de­spite strong sales – the com­pact Jum­buck ute.

It still comes with only a 1.6-litre starter en­gine, although there is also a turbo ver­sion of the small four.

‘‘ No, it’s not our last chance,’’ Pro­ton boss John Startari says.

‘‘ This is the start of a new prod­uct range and a new po­si­tion for the com­pany.

‘‘ There’s never been a time when the com­pany has been able to com­pete on an even foot­ing in the Aus­tralian mar­ket in terms of spec­i­fi­ca­tion, fea­tures and safety (of our ve­hi­cles).’’

Pro­ton has no four- or fives­tar ANCAP cars in Australia. It also has been sell­ing cars with en­gines too small for the lo­cal mar­ket.

Startari says this is chang­ing and the com­pany’s new man­age­ment, un­der the DRBHi­com con­glom­er­ate, is pro­vid­ing ex­tra drive.

Pro­ton is a blip on the Aus­tralian sales charts, de­liv­er­ing 379 cars to the end of April, a 23.7 per cent slide from 2011. Even though the Jum­buck is of­fi­cially gone from its brochures, it is still the best seller with 111 de­liv­er­ies.

‘‘ We’ve got Ex­ora com­ing, which is a new seg­ment for us and will fill a void from Jum­buck. Jum­buck had a niche of its own and it’s the same for Ex­ora, be­cause no one else has a small peo­ple-mover.

‘‘ Then we’re look­ing at a hatch ver­sion of the Preve in 2013, as well as ve­hi­cles in other seg­ments. But I can­not talk about that yet.’’

Peo­ple-mover and shaker: The com­pact Ex­ora will take Pro­ton into anew mar­ket seg­ment

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