Nip 'n' tuck for Malaysia's favourite

Malaysia’s number one selling car, and one of the cheapest available in Australia, has been face-lifted. The Proton S16 – known as Saga overseas – will gain dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control (ESC) and an optional CVT transmission when the tweaked model range arrives here in November.

Whether or not Proton can maintain the current $11,990 driveaway starting price is unclear, however given the increased specification, the entry-level S16 will likely move up in price by $1K.

The new continuously-variable transmission is built in Belgium by Punch Powertrain, the company that also supplies gearboxes to Kia, Hyundai, Mini and Volvo. It ties exclusively with the 70kW 1.3-litre engine, the base engine of which was previously unavailable with a self-shifter option. Mid- and top-spec 82kW 1.6-litre S16 variants retain a four-speed torque-converter auto option, though Proton has confirmed the new CVT will eventually replace that transmission in both S16 and Gen2/Persona models.

With ESC mandatory for all Australian passenger vehicles from January 1, 2012, Proton will move to equip the Gen2 and Persona with a stability system before the end of the year, while the Savvy, Satria and Jumbuck utility will all be dropped from the range.

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