You can’t feel sorry for those who has just bought the original (mean real) Mitsubishi Lancer GT to start kicking and banging themselves now that Proton Holdings Berhad (KLSE: PROTON, stock-code 5304) has officially announced the replacement for Proton Waja sedan – Proton Inspira. The news of the replacement model which was essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer GT has been in the rumour mill for many months actually so there’s no reason for Lancer buyer to claim otherwise.
Proton group managing director revealed the tentative pricing for Proton Inspira would be between RM79,888 (1.8-liter) to RM95,000 (2.0-liter), obviously lower than a Mitsubishi Lancer GT that starts from RM120,980. Some said Proton should call it Proton Lancar to give Mitsubishi Lancer owners a run for their money *grin*. And Proton group MD Syed Zainal Abidin was right to claim the collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s (TYO: 7211) helped Proton save lots of funds (about RM700 million) and time because basically Proton didn’t have to do much work with the rebadging strategy.
Starting at RM79,888 the Inspira will come with either 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter Mitsubishi engine. The option of 5-speed manual or 6-speed CVT gearbox is available for 1.8-liter engine while those who opt for 2.0-liter will get CVT transmission with added steering column paddle shifters. Other features include auto cruise, automatic light and rain sensors and airbags (finally). The Inspira is open for booking at a RM1,000 deposit from today until Nov 15th 2010 and available in red, white or silver.
It was a clever strategy by Proton to position this latest carbon copy of Mitsubishi Lancer GT in the so-called C-segment which sees players such as Honda Civic and Toyota Altis. Target market in this RM80,000 to RM100,000 segment would be hippies or youngsters who couldn’t afford the Mitsubishi Lancer GT. With such a lower price for a clone copy of Lancer it was expected the buyers would happily pay for the car and immediately replace the “Thundercat” logo with Mitsubishi’s three-diamond logo.
Buyers are practically getting a Mitsubishi car with a local car price and you’re talking about 1.8-liter engine which could rival a Honda Civic 1.8 owner for a fast-and-furious race on the highway, though I’m not sure if you can modify to include a turbo intercooler. Some questioned the name Inspira (from Inspiration or Honda Inspire?) but frankly who cares when 99% of the new owners will come with screwdrivers to take their delivery. You will soon see more Proton Lancer than Honda and Toyota cars combined on the road.
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