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Car Info: History of Proton Wira

The Proton Wira is a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer, in this case the year 1992 6th generation Lancer.

There are several variants of the 6th generation Lancer and the most special one is the 1992 CD5A Mitsubishi Lancer GSR RS. It is sold for modification purposes in mind, the RS spec is a no frills trimmed out version of the highest spec Lancer at that time. Unnecessary features were deleted in the RS spec to save weight while the essential performance bits of the Lancer GSR was retained. The Lancer GSR came with a 200 horsepower 1.8 litre DOHC turbocharged 4G93 engine matched with a full time 4WD drivetrain system.

This generation of Lancer came with a wide range of specifications and engine options. The ones pictured here were equipped with a 1.6 litre DOHC V6 engine for the MX Extra spec which was the world's smallest V6 engine back then. The MX spec came with a 1.5 litre 4G91 DOHC engine in 2WD and 4WD chassis. The MVV Saloon was equipped with a more familiar 1.5 litre 4G15 SOHC engine like those found in Wira but this one here was slightly different as it came with a special MVV (Mitsubishi Vertical Vortex) electronic fuel injection system that helps to improve fuel efficiency.

This generation of Lancer had also started the famous Lancer Evolution lineup (EVO 1,2,3). The powerful Lancer Evolution chassis and body is similar to the Lancer but it was further reinforced with extra welding to withstand the extra power and improve handling. This is the reason why parts from these earlier Lancer Evolution are so popular with Wira owners as most of the parts are actually interchangeable. However, the 4WD drivetrain system from the Lancer Evolution is not directly compatible with the Wira chassis but it can be fitted with major chassis welding and modifications.

In 21st May 1993, the Proton Wira was launched by Proton. Three specifications were available at launch back then:

1.5 litre GL Manual priced at RM39,278
1.5 litre GL Automatic priced at RM42,301
1.6 litre XLi Automatic priced at RM54,306

The Wira 1.6 XLi was the highest spec Wira during launch. The Wira XLi came with a 4 speed automatic transmission, 4 power windows, electric side mirrors, rear disc brakes and rear anti roll bar. A Wira 1.6 XLi manual transmission variant was added to the lineup in 1994. The 1.6 litre SOHC 4G92 engine in the Wira 1.6 XLi was sourced from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC). This is also the first electronic fuel injected engine from Proton's local Malaysian market lineup. The 1.5 litre carbureted SOHC 4G15 engine in the Wira 1.5 GL. Also sourced from Mitsubishi, this engine is exactly the same engine as the one found in the 1990 Proton Saga 1.5 Megavalve.

The Wira's front design is very different from the Lancer as it is more rounded compared to the squarish design found in Lancer. However, only the hood and grill was designed by Proton as the rest of the front end was adopted from the 1992 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan. A 1992 Mitsubishi Mirage sedan. The front lamp, fenders and bumper design are exactly the same as the one found in Wira.
Wira's rear lamp design is completely different from the Lancer. In fact, the rear boot section of the Wira is slightly elongated compared to the Lancer. Therefore, the Wira is actually longer than the Lancer. But again, this rear design is not entirely from Proton as well. It was adopted from the 1987 Mitsubishi Galant hatchback. A 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer with the right side rear lamp reflector taken off compared to a Wira with facelifted rear lamp. A 1987 Mitsubishi Galant hatchback. Notice the similarity of its rear lamp with the Wira.

Unlike the simpler torsion beam suspension found in Proton Saga and Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore, all Proton Wira came with independent rear multi link suspension which is the same as the 1992 Lancer. A multi link rear suspension is more complicated than the simple torsion beam suspension but it offers better comfort and handling to the car.

Later on in November 1993, a hatchback version of the Wira was introduced. This is known as the Wira Aeroback which is similar to the Saga Aeroback.

In 1995, a diesel powered Wira was also introduced by Proton. Known as Proton Wira 2.0D, it uses a 2 litre 4D68 engine that was also sourced from Mitsubishi.

In 1995, the Wira received a very minor facelift that changed the front grill design and rear lamp. During this time, a lower spec 1.3 GL variant was also introduced to the market. It uses same carbureted 1.3 litre SOHC 4G13 engine that is the same as the one found in the 1990 Proton Saga 1.3 Megavalve. The Wira 1.3 GL was only available with a manual transmission and several interior trims were removed such as the RPM gauge and rear power windows. The facelifted Wira rear lamp that features a clear signal lamp indicators. The lamp design were no longer grooved unlike the earlier ones. 

In 1996, the most sought after Wira was introduced. The Wira 1.8 EXi. The Wira 1.8 came with a different grill design compared to the 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6 variant. All Wira 1.8 EXi chassis were further reinforced and stiffened compared to other Wira chassis. These Wira 1.8 EXi came with two slightly different engines. The manual variants came with a DOHC 4G93 engine while the automatic variants came with a SOHC 4G93 engine. There were a small amount of automatic variants that came with a DOHC 4G93 engine.

The rarest Wira 1.8 EXi of all would be this, the FIA Homologated Special Edition. 2500 units of these special Wira 1.8 EXi were built for the WRC (World Rally Champtionship) homologation. These Wira came equipped with Recaro seats, Momo steering wheel, Momo gear knob, larger disc brakes, larger anti roll bars, extra welding reinforced chassis, twin tip exhaust muffler and an optional rear spoiler. The 1.8 litre DOHC 4G93 engine in a Wira 1.8 EXi. This engine is also sourced from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and it is the first DOHC equipped car from Proton. This engine produces around 130 to 140 horsepower which is much more powerful than all the other Wira at around 70hp for the 1.3, 90hp for the 1.5 and 110hp for the 1.6.

In 1999, the Wira 1.5 and 1.6 received a different grill facelift which is the same grill as the one found in the Wira 1.8 EXi. The 1.3 variants retained the same grill. It was also at this time, all carburetor powered Wira 1.3 GL and 1.5 GL were changed into electronic fuel injection. It was also renamed as GLi where the i stands for injection. The illumination for the metre cluster was also changed to green instead of white following this facelift.

In year 2001, the electronic fuel injection module and components were changed. Instead of using parts from Mitsubishi (MMC), the parts are now locally made by Siemens VDO, a German company. Several things have been changed such as the change from a mechanical based distributor found in earlier MMC into a fully electronic distributor. More additional sensors were also added into the VDO 4G13 and 4G15. Power is also slightly reduced in VDO powered units compared to the earlier MMC ones. One point to note that during this time, the Wira 1.6 XLi and 1.8 EXi was discontinued, so the 4G92 and 4G93 engine in Wira never received a VDO ECU update.

The fourth and final facelift for Wira came in year 2004. This time, the front grill was changed again and the old Mitsubishi Mirage based front bumper was changed into a Proton designed bumper. It was also believed that these Wira received suspension tuning from Lotus as Lotus was acquired by Proton several years ago. At the same time during 2004, Wira Special Edition (SE) was introduced. The Wira SE is only available with the hatchback Aeroback body style and it came with the 4G15 engine.

Priced at RM49,476, the Wira SE was priced higher than normal Wira 1.5 GLi. The Wira SE received many additional equipments compared to the regular 1.5. These are some of the things included in the Wira SE:

- 4-2-1 exhaust manifold
- 16 inch wheels
- Sports S flow exhaust muffler
- Different seats
- Steel pedals
- Rear disc brakes
- Rear anti roll bar (it din't came in 1.3 and 1.5 models)
- Speakers at front doors
- Different interior trim
- Stiffer coil springs with larger shock absorbers

Though there are many additional add ons for this Wira SE, it wasn't as good as the add ons included in the older Wira 1.8 EXi.

Sadly, many of these add ons were slowly removed in newer batches of Wira SE until only a small amount of cosmetic add ons were left. The 4-2-1 extractor, rear disc brakes, rear anti roll bar, Sports exhaust muffler were all removed later on.

To conclude it all, the Mitsubishi Lancer based Proton Wira played its role very well as the second national car from Malaysia. It was a solid well built car with low maintenance cost. Today, a common used Proton Wira can be had for about RM3,000 to RM6,000.

Despite its age and poor reception, the Wira had faithfully catered the needs for many Malaysians like the Saga before it. With its versatile chassis, it can fulfill a variety of roles depending on the needs of its owner. It can be a dependable family car, a daily driven car for work, a first car for new drivers, an entry level performance car for those who are into modifications (although Mitsubishi Lancer halfcuts are way lesser now and cost more). Just keep in mind that one cannot expect a car designed more than 20 years ago to perform modern tasks that new cars today can achieve.

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