Have you been to Proton’s Centre of Excellence (COE) in Subang along the Kesas Highway? More than just a big showroom and service centre, the place is also Proton’s HQ and there was a display of past models in the lobby, a mini museum of sorts. If you’ve seen that before, things have changed, a lot.
Launched today, Proton’s new “Gallery of Inspiration” is modern and spacious, and very interactive. It seems like the entire ground floor of the COE has been revamped, although the canteen overlooking the service centre and the showroom portions are actually unchanged.
There are six areas to this new brand gallery, and you’ll start off by registering at the new front desk. Here, you’ll notice a new dark look dominated by grey tones. In front of the counter is a podium for the hero car of the moment, which will be Proton’s latest model – currently, it’s the X50 SUV. To the right of the reception counter is the “Inspiration Lounge” with an open area and two rooms for special guests.
To the left of the reception is the main event, the Experiential Zone with six sub-sections. This was where all the heritage cars were parked tightly before, but it’s now a spacious place with just one car – the original 1985 Saga in red. Here, you can look at static display boards to learn about the significant moments of the company, with nostalgic old pictures.
The milestones listed span Proton’s incorporation phase, growth phase, enhancement phase and the current transformation phase that started in 2017. The red Saga is next to it, and behind the car is a big screen playing testimonials and Proton stories. Next to it are touchscreen panels that give an overview of the carmaker today, from models to company values.
It’s not all reading and watching though – the connectivity section has booths with the actual ‘Hi Proton’ voice command system and screen that you can try out for yourself.
Next to it is a powertrain section featuring actual engines. Each of the three engines currently featured – the X70’s 1.8T, the X50’s 1.5T and an upcoming new 1.5T mild hybrid with BSG (belt starter generator, more on this later) – have an rotating iPad with AR (augmented reality) function. Point the tablet at a particular section of the engine and an explanation pops up.
Lastly, the VR simulator, which has two seats. Sit in, put on the VR (virtual reality) headset and drive through a virtual city with autonomous driving features. Experience the future, basically. The virtual city is very local, and car fans can have fun playing spot the car models – the range of non-Proton cars in the city are wide and very realistic, but it’s super strange to have a KL without any Peroduas!
After the fun, sober up by checking out the serious business stuff at Proton’s business overview and network area. There’s a cool-looking world map feature wall with a list of all the countries Proton has entered in the past – you’ll be surprised. What’s more impressive is that there’s a Starbucks outlet next to the world map, called Proton Cafe.
Proton Edar CEO Roslan Abdullah said that Proton Cafe is run by a new subsidiary called Proton Global Services, and the sales arm will be expanding this concept to Proton dealerships, so you can expect Starbucks coffee in your local 4S in the near future.
What’s a brand experience without the heritage models? Red Saga aside, they’re still around, tucked away in a separate wing that you won’t miss as you’re heading out (for car fans, it’s the first thing you’ll see as you walk up from the carpark). Included here are a Wira that reached the North Pole, Putra, Satria GTI, Waja in F1 livery, Perdana V6 (Alfa facelift) and concepts of the Satria Neo, Persona and Preve.
Check out all of the above in our live gallery below, and when you’re free, head to COE and check out the Gallery of Inspiration and experience the interactive parts in person. It’s open to the public every Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm. If the partner isn’t interested, at least there’s a Starbucks to chill and wait.
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