The all-new Proton Saga is expected to be launched by the end of September. Unlike its elder brother the Persona, which is a sedan version of the Iriz and is aimed at the B-segment Toyota Vios/Honda City/Nissan Almera crowd, the A-segment Proton Saga will have its sight set on the Perodua Bezza.
Official photos have yet to be released by Proton but there are enough leaked images and spyshots floating around the Internet to give us a good indication of how the all-new Saga will eventually look like.
While the larger Persona is built on an all-new platform that’s shared with the Proton Iriz, we understand that the all-new Saga will ride on a heavily modified version of the outgoing Saga’s platform, and is likely to retain the current car’s 2,465 mm wheelbase. It will however feature totally revamped body styling and a new engine.
Based on information collated from unofficial sources familiar with the matter, here’s what we know of the all-new Proton Saga:
Indicative pricing puts the 1.3-litre Saga within the RM35,000 – RM45,000 range. That’s quite competitive considering that an equivalent 1.3-litre Bezza ranges from RM42,800 to RM50,800.
Of course, there also a significantly cheaper 1.0-litre Bezza which ranges between RM37,300 and RM39,300, an entry-level variant which Proton has no answer for.
Unlike the Perodua Bezza, which is available with two engine options – 1.0-litre VVT-i and 1.3-litre Dual VVT-i - the Saga will only be available with a 1.3-litre VVT engine. It’s the same engine that’s shared with lower specification variants of the Iriz.
There will be two transmission options, a 5-speed manual and a CVT-type automatic. We’ve also been told that the Saga will feature several improvements to reduce the ‘droning’ transmission whine that plagued earlier models of CVT-equipped Proton models.
Recent Proton models have typically feature significantly higher levels of safety features over Perodua’s offerings and we don’t expect the Saga to be any different.
Compared to the current Saga, the all-new Saga might even move the goal post further by offering electronic stability control (ESC) and Hill Hold Assist (HHA) as standard. Considering that these features are available as standard across all variants of the Persona and Iriz, there is a high chance for the same to be offered to Saga buyers.
In contrast, Perodua only provides VSC (the company’s equivalent to ESC) on the most expensive RM50,800 Bezza 1.3 Advance.
Dual front airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) will certainly be offered as standard for the Saga.
We understand that the vehicle has already been tested by ASEAN NCAP, and the results (like to be 5-star, considering Proton’s past performance) will be announced in the coming weeks.
If safety is a top priority, then you should consider the Saga.
UPDATE: The all-new Saga managed to score just 4 stars in ASEAN NCAP. Contrary to earlier speculations, the upcoming Saga wasn't able to match the Persona's excellent scores, or even that achieved by the Perodua Bezza.
Frankly Perodua’s technical partner Daihatsu has one of the best talents in the industry when it comes to vehicle packaging. Thus, interior space will always forte of Perodua.
If space is a top priority, then the Bezza might better meet your needs.
Having said that, we understand that the all-new Saga will have a 430-litre boot space. In comparison, the Bezza offers 508-litres of boot space.
The Saga’s cabin is unlikely to match the spacious Bezza’s.
Ride and Handling
This is an area where the Proton is expected to trump the Perodua. The Bezza, while cheap, is based on the Axia and its low-cost underpinnings are very evident once the car driven at highway speeds.
Even when driving at well within the highway speed limit, the Bezza is very susceptible to crosswinds and does not offer much to instill confidence to the driver.
Looking at the driving experience offered by the Iriz, Persona, Preve and Suprima, it is reasonable to expect the all-new Saga to offer above an average driving experience.
Thanks to a new three-point mounting that is said to be able to better isolate engine vibrations, the all-new Saga is expected to offer a significantly more refined ride.
When will it be launched?
The all-new Proton Saga is expected to make its local debut within the next few weeks. Watch this space for more information.