After driving the Proton Persona for a few days, I couldn't quite figure something out.
Why did the Malaysian manufacturers go to all the expense of fitting this vehicle with luxuries such as air conditioning, electric windows, remote keyless entry, electric mirrors, park distance control and a great little sound system ... and then go along and fit a steering wheel that looks like it cost R12,50 to produce and wouldn't be out of place on a toy car from Toys-R-Us.
Sure, they've gone to the trouble of fitting controls for the sound system on the steering wheel - which were temperamental as to when they wanted to work - but that plastic feel of the wheel just didn't do it for me.
The exterior design is pleasant and the logo and strip of silver on the boot does make it stand out from the crowd. In fact, the rear definitely has that Chrysler Sebring look to it.
We had the 1,6-litre 5-speed manual on test, and although by no means quick through the gears, there is enough oomph to keep you travelling at a reasonable speed.
The cloth interior on the doors had me breaking out in a cold sweat as memory flashbacks to some seedy Hillbrow nightclub from days gone-by took over.
A simple plain trim would perhaps look better.
For car buyers who put a lot of emphasis on space, the Persona obliges. Boot space is a whopping 430 litres and legroom for the rear passengers ample.
Safety-wise, the Proton gets all the ticks in the right boxes - ABS brakes, airbags, immobiliser and side protection bars come standard.
Dual cup holds front and back come in handy for storing drinks while on a long drive, and the adjustable steering wheel enables you to get a comfortable driving position.
The Proton Persona costs R148995 and includes a 3-year/ 75000km service plan, a 3-year/60000km warranty and a 3-year AA membership.