The Proton Inspira has been officially launched. Making its debut at a ceremony held this morning, the much anticipated mid-sized four-door sedan catering to the upper C-Segment has also been delivered to the first batch of customers and will soon be flooding our roads. Pricing for the new Inspira has also been adjusted and is now cheaper than first reported. On the road prices for Peninsular Malaysia with full insurance coverage stand at: 1.8 manual - RM 78,999 for metallic color and RM 78,549 for solid colour. 1.8 CVT - RM 84,999 for metallic color and RM 84,549 for solid colour. 2.0 CVT - RM 91,999 for metallic color and RM 91,549 for solid colour Officiating the ceremony was the Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato 'Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed, who was accompanied by Proton adviser Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamed as well as Proton Chairman Dato' Sri Mohd. Nadzmi Mohd. Salleh and Group Managing Director Dato' Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir. A production of an OEM Collaboration between Proton and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation Japan, the Inspira is built locally and contrary to popular belief, no CBU models will be available. Obviously based on the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Inspira features several significant aesthetic enhancements like the new front and rear bumper, front grille, rims, and a mini tail spoiler. Proton also says that the headlights have been made distinctive but one would be hard pressed to point out the difference. Besides the aesthetics upgrade, the Inspira also features improved Ride and Handling tuned by Proton engineers that have been specifically trained by Lotus for the job in hand. Our pre-launch test drive of the 1.8 manual Inspira found the suspension set up a little soft for curvy roads but perfectly set up for comfortable highway cruising. "We have further enhanced the car with several new features including the unmistakable Lotus DNA of exceptional ride and handling and now, what we present to you here, is a product that is more affordable for Malaysians," said Dato' Syed Zainal Abidin. He went on to say, "we are very encouraged by customers' response since our soft launch on 14th October 2010. As of yesterday (Nov 9th) we have an overwhelming response of 1,800 bookings nationwide. Also speaking at the event, Dato' Sri Mohd. Nadzmi explains the business sense behind the Proton Inspira, assuring that its more than just a rebadge. "We have been working and collaborating with Mitsubishi for the last 25 years and its a natural step forward for us to continue to work with them on this project. Product collaboration between OEM's is a normal practise amongst international car industry players as the partnership will be mutually beneficial to all parties." "One of our product strategy is to introduce non-core models through strategic collaborations which provides a more efficient, timely, and cost effective product to the market. The Proton Inspira is an excellent example of this product collaboration," explains Dato' Sri Mohd. Nadzmi. He goes on to assure that Proton will continue to focus on its own design and production of its own cars. In fact Proton is working on several new models. Customers can expect a new facelift model rolling out from Proton by the end of this year and more next year and a new model in 2012, all done by Proton in total. The Proton Inspira is available with a 1.8-liter CVT or Manual transmission, as well as a 2-liter CVT transmission. The automatic CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) comes with the Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronic Control System (INVECS-III). It is an advanced system that automatically selects the optimal gear ratio based on road and driving conditions with a self-learning ability to match an individual's driving style. The Inspira is also fitted with Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system or in short, MIVEC, a much loved technology that provides optimal valve timing at both low and high revs. The top of the line 2-liter CVT model comes with such features as cruise control, paddle shift, auto light sensor, auto rain sensor, body kit, leather interior trimming, rear spoiler, and a GPS Navigation system. As for the performance figures, the 1.8-liter engines make as much as 138hp@6000rpm and 177Nm of torque available at 4250rpm. The 2-liter CVT churns out 147hp@6000rpm and a whopping 197Nm of torque at 4250rpm. Customers can view the Proton Inspira from today at all Proton Edar showrooms nationwide and it an be booked at a minimum fee of RM1,000. Early birds who book the car before the 15th of November 2010 will get a free two year or first 50,000km (whichever comes first) Service Package which includes labor charges and service parts valued at more than RM1,658. To learn more about the Proton Inspira, visit www.protoninspira.com.