Proton has entered a completely new market segment with the Arena, a Wira-based three-model pickup truck range the Malaysian national carmaker hopes will attract buyers with its ‘lifestyle’ features, AutoAsia Online reported.

The website said the Arena, just launched, is a front-wheel-drive pickup truck designed to offer solid load carrying capabilities but to drive and ride like a passenger car.

AutoAsia Online said the new line is based on the tried-and-tested [old Mitsubishi Lancer) mechanicals of the Proton Wira 1.5 sedan but with a two-seat cabin and flat cargo bed.

The website said the pickup is created by combining the monocoque construction of the front end of the sedan with a rear section of ladder-frame construction and a flatbed rated to carry a maximum 570kg plus a tailgate that can take a 300kg load.

AutoAsia Online said Proton is offering three variants: a base Freestyle model with prominent chrome roll bars, a mid-level Sportdeck with rigid tonneau cover and a top- line Fastback with detachable hard top.

The website said all models have the Wira’s 12-valve 1.5 Mitsubishi-designed EFI engine, five-speed manual transmission, independent strut front suspension and torsion beam rear set-up at the rear with an uprated front stabiliser bar and tweaked chassis for better handling.