Thursday, February 10, 2005

Gen.2 - Lotus boogaloo

An interesting perspective from down-under on a car that will never see the light of day here. Proton's Gen.2 looks like a compelling package for budget-constrained motoring enthusiasts. For those who aren't up on their South East Asian automakers, Proton is a Malaysian automaker that started in 1985 as a state-owned entity. For most of the company's history, its cars were based on Mistusbishi technology and were considered basic transportation at best. In 1996, Proton attempted to establish itself as a major world player when it bought ailing Lotus. And that brings us to the Gen.2, Proton's first effort to build a car from the ground up. Lotus engineers, Proton proudly points out, assisted in the development, and from the early reviews that assistance has paid off. For its price, the Gen.2 appears to be a compelling package; Alfa Romeo meets Kia. The interior looks incredibly detailed for a small car and shows clear Lotus influence. Even the lack of a glove compartment can be excused as an homage to the Elise's sparten interior. I envy the Aussies and Brits, Lotus handling for just pennies, that's a sweet deal.

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