I didn't expect to fall in love all over again but the 2020 Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition rekindled my love for Proton and here's why...
The first car that I bought with my own hard-earned money was a Proton Satria 1.3 GLi. I called her Raven after Raven Darkholme, who you may know as Mystique from The X-Men. She was that blue, that kind that shines when it catches the light and makes you do a double-take. She had the 4G13 engine, producing between 75-85 hp. She was a manual but most importantly she was bucketloads of fun. Today we scoff at the horsepower in the cars of yesteryear but my Satria taught me how to handle power regardless of how much you had available on tap.
Her biggest repair was a top overhaul that cost me approximately RM600 circa 2012. That was a lot of money back then for a kid that was independent and lacking any financial support from family. Her first and biggest accident coincidentally was not done by me but my girlfriend at that time who is my wife today. She lost her side skirting. I took real good care of her and unfortunately had to sell her just before I left Malaysia for other pastures.
Ever since that fateful day, I've not owned another Proton.
As chance would have it a very good friend of mine who had managed to snag himself a 2020 Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition (all 1100 have been sold by the way) asked me if I would like to have it for the weekend. I said YES and by golly was it a good decision! It's the most fun car I've driven this year and that is testament to how good the Saga really is.
With a price tag of ONLY RM39,300, you prime yourself to only accept so much from the car but she just over-delivers and then some.
Handling: 2020 Proton Saga 1.3AT Premium
She handles like a dream, quick and precise steering. You point, she goes. No hesitation, no uncertainty. The steering is also properly weighted with the right amount of feedback.
Entertainment: 2020 Proton Saga 1.3AT Premium
The Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition similar to the Proton Saga AT Premium Edition gets the 7.0 inch Android based head unit that comes with Bluetooth and MirrorLink. I found the app clunky to use but pairing via Bluetooth was a breeze and sound quality was very impressive. Crisp, clear with the right amount of bass. Nicely done Proton!
Engine: 2020 Proton Saga 1.3AT Premium
1.3 litre four-cylinder that kicks out 95 PS paired to a 4AT gearbox from Hyundai. It is the same gearbox you find on the Kia Picanto. I'm not fond of the gearbox especially when the RPM drops to below 2000, it is sluggish and painfully slow to pick-up speed. When you're cruising on the highway however she's a gem of a gearbox. Over the past few days that I had her, she was definitely more suited for the highway than the city, oddly enough. It might have been a tuning issue with my friend's car, I can't say for certain.
Interior: 2020 Proton Saga 1.3AT Premium
A nicely laid out cabin where all the switches are within easy reach. Cubby holes for water bottles and miscellaneous items are sufficient. It was a functional cabin but also one that was very homey. The seats provided more than adequate cushioning and grip. I'm glad that Proton stuck to fabric seats because our weather is really not suited for leather.
Looks: 2020 Proton Saga 1.3AT Premium
My mother was shocked to find out that it was a Proton Saga, she genuinely thought it was a foreign make. I was also tailgated by at least three souped-up Satria's, hassled by a Toyota Camry and honked at by a Honda Civic. I've never been bullied so badly in any other car. Now before you comment that I'm a bad driver, etc, I am not. I was merely minding my own business, driving my family to Klang to visit my parents. I can only surmise that all these other drivers were jealous of how good looking the Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition is.
I will admit that when I first saw the 2020 Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition pictures, I was underwhelmed and disappointed. It felt like a poorly thought of edition, a rush job and maybe it still is but after spending a few days with her, I've come to enjoy her looks, she's grown on me. She's also the only car I've been in, in a long time that had me feeling happy to just cruise in her. No need for speed, no rush to get anywhere. Just sit back and enjoy the ride mate she almost seemed to say each time I took her out. So thank you for rekindling my love for Proton, Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition. Maybe I'll be able to convince my wife to get one...plus it's got a functional 420 litres of boot space.