During a dialogue session with journalists during the Proton Persona media drive in September last year, Deputy CEO of Proton Dato Md Radzaif Mohamed said that knowledge gained and improvements from the Persona will eventually trickle down to the Iriz.
Ahead of its coming launch, Proton invited members of the Malaysian media to sample the updated Iriz on a brief spin around its Shah Alam test track.
In terms of how the Proton Iriz looks, the company did not rework it heavily, instead chose to give subtle changes instead. The entry-level Iriz 1.3 Standard receives a new glossy black treatment for the upper grille. As for the 1.3 Executive trim, it now comes equipped with a pair of front fog lights.
Then there's the range-topping Iriz 1.6 Premium, which now comes with glossy black side mirros, roof and rear spoiler. Tyre size for the 1.6 Premium has shrunk, as it now rides on 185/55R15 Goodyear Assurance rubbers all round, replacing the predecessor's 195/55R15 rubbers. Two new colours are available, Carnelian Brown and Ruby Red.
Cabin wise, all variants of the new Iriz will receive a new seat pattern, with a pair of blue and red stripes running along the seats. The Iriz 1.6 Premium receives a mix of leather and fabric for the new seats plus red stitching around the carpet and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The dark chrome trim in the range-topping Iriz now has a glossy finish as well, which is found around the gear lever, aircon vents and infotainment system surround. Other highlights include several bits and pieces from the Persona, like the meter cluster and gear shifter for the CVT models.
We did notice that the new Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium has dropped the Auto Headlight feature, though we are pleased to report that the air-conditioning controls have been vastly improved in terms of tactile feel. Elsewhere, Proton has ditched the old Android-based head unit, replacing it with a different unit. They pointed out that the new head unit now features mirroring, dubbed E-Link. Our quick experience with the head unit was largely positive, as the unit responded fluidly.
Visual updates aside, the biggest improvement for the Proton Iriz is in fact what's under the skin. As mentioned earlier, the Iriz is now the recipient for Proton's new 3-mount design for the engine mounts. With less engine mounts to hold the powertrain, vibrations and harshness can be reduced significantly, as there will be less harshness entering the cabin.
Speaking to one of the engineers at the test track, we were informed that the new muffler is designed to reduce noise and vibrations for the rear passengers when the Iriz accelerates. Elsewhere there is also new sound-proofing materials that lowers the overall cabin noise by up to 5 dB when compared to the older Iriz.
Another highlight for the Iriz is the new TCU software. According to them, the new software allows the CVT in the Iriz to achieve max acceleration sooner than its predecessor, on top of reaching a higher maximum acceleration. These translates into a CVT behaviour that is considerably more responsive than before. Behind the wheel, we did notice the changes, mimicking the Persona in terms of refinement.
We asked the head of Proton Edar, Encik Rashid Musa, how soon can we expect the new Iriz. According to him, he expects to see them on the road as soon as 1st June.
Despite our short time with the improved Proton Iriz, we are fairly confident that the new model is headed to the right direction in terms of refinement. The predecessor was not a bad car to begin with, but Proton's engineers managed to improve the Iriz even further.
Stay tuned for our full review.