Three down, one to go. The third of four Proton launches promised for 2016 has concluded with the all-new 2016 Proton Saga hitting the showrooms priced from RM36,800 with four 1.3-litre variants to choose from.
As detailed in earlier reports, the new Saga follows an identical line-up of variants as the Persona, starting from the basic Standard trim in manual and CVT guises and moving up to two CVT-only higher trim configurations.
Whilst the Standard manual variant kicks off the pricing range at RM37,800 on-the-road with insurance, all three CVT variants reside on the far side of RM40k. The 1.3 Premium CVT variant tops the range off at RM46,800, level with the entry-level Persona 1.6 Standard manual.
All prices quoted are on the road with insurance, for Peninsular Malaysia.
Built on the outgoing model’s platform enhanced with vast improvements, the new Saga is powered exclusively by Proton’s Campro 1.3-litre VVT engine which first debuted in the Iriz.
Outputs of the 1,332cc engine are rated at 94hp and 120Nm, which is identical to the current model, but with the promise of improved fuel consumption, thanks to the implementation of variable valve timing technology.
As with the Persona, Proton now sits the Saga’s engine on three mounting points as opposed to four previously for improved refinement. Another common enhancement shared with the Persona is vastly improved CVT software calibration that reduces the dreaded droning noise as well as sharpening the transmission’s responsiveness.
Whilst the new Saga’s wheelbase is unchanged from the outgoing model, Proton has lengthened both the front and rear overhangs to effect a 74mm increase in the vehicle’s overall length. The car is also widened by 9mm but stands 11mm lower than before.
Boot space gets a 7-litre boost from 413 to 420 litres and can be further expanded by a single-piece folding rear seat back to carry long objects.
Features & Equipment
The new 2016 Proton Saga comes with the following levels of equipment:
Standard M/T & CVT:
Executive CVT adds on:
Premium CVT adds on:
The Saga’s pricing inevitably puts it as another contender against Perodua’s thus far highly-successful Bezza sedan. Both cars start at similar pricing, but the Bezza only has a 1.0-litre engine to contend with at the lower price ranges; the 1.3-litre variants start at RM42,800 with manual transmission. An automatic gearbox adds a further RM2,000 into the equation.
Whilst the 68PS 1.0-litre Bezza is outgunned by the Saga in outputs, the Perodua claws back some ground in terms of equipment. Given Proton’s recent emphasis on safety, there will be inevitable questions on why the Saga offers ABS only at mid-spec level upwards, whilst Perodua offers it standard in all variants of the Bezza. The Bezza is also safer on paper, being rated 5 stars by ASEAN NCAP compared to the Saga’s 4-star rating.
We expect the Saga to exhibit more surefooted handling than the Bezza on the road, however, but Perodua has always been happy to concede ground in the driving dynamics department. More crucially, Perodua’s supposed weakness in this area doesn’t seem to have deterred people from buying their cars in droves, evidence that the company has a firm grasp on what Malaysians want in a car.
The Saga also faces some internal competition. Despite efforts to segregate its line-up more clearly, the top-spec Saga is priced very close to the entry-spec Persona, which offers comparable kit and a bigger car powered by a bigger engine.
Choices are indeed aplenty for the average Malaysian in the market for an affordable sedan.