What happened to the Proton Iriz? Why is it not the choice of many?
When the Proton Iriz was created, it had one mission in life, and that mission was to infiltrate and take away sales from the darling of the B-segment hatchback market, the Perodua Myvi.
Things looked well in the development stages. It looked good, seemed to have slightly more power than the Myvi and promised to bring with it that famous Proton ride and handling. It even got Proton thinking that it could be Proton's new global model. Even its codename, GSC which stood for Global Small Car gave us the hint that Proton thought it would be a successful car.
When it finally launched in 2014, it was met with a lot of fanfare, especially when local media labelled it as a car that has sophistication, good build quality, refinement, and of course great ride and handling.
All good right? Not really, because the Perodua Myvi still outsold the Proton Iriz by the thousands. So what happened? Is the Myvi that good? Or was it simply the case that the shortcomings of the Proton Iriz were just too crucial to ignore? Let's find out.
Limp Bizkit was one of the biggest rap-rock bands of the late nineties but the nu-metal trend they helped pioneer was dead by the early noughties. In 2011 Fred Durst and company tried to make a comeback with their first album in six years called Gold Cobra, but it didn't make much of an impact to the public.
Although there is no direct relation between Proton and Limp Bizkit, the Iriz was like Limp Bizkit's Gold Cobra album, and although the national car company is still around today and on the up, the Iriz never performed like how it was supposed to - just like Gold Cobra.
It had all the right ingredients to succeed but just never did. Unlike Limp Bizkit, the Proton Iriz had a tough opponent to fight against, and that nemesis was the formidable Perodua Myvi.
Inherently, Proton was always going to have to put up a tough fight against the Myvi because not only did the Myvi's DNA stem from one of Japan's much-adored compact car manufacturers, Daihatsu but it was also backed by Daihatsu's parent company Toyota, which is arguably the biggest car manufacturer in the world.
Although down on power and handling, the second-generation Myvi was just too well packaged. With its spacious interior for a small car, dependable drivetrain as well as all you would ever need in a basic car, it was hard for people to move away from it. Apart from the stiffer ride as well as rough interior edges, it was pretty much a perfect car for those who just wanted to zip around town getting from A to B. It behaved well in traffic, and was pretty much low maintenance - a winning formula for most motorists.
The Iriz was not too bad either, but depending on ride and handling was not enough for the small Proton hatchback. At the highest spec, it even had more airbags than the Myvi, but people didn't seem to care. Its biggest misgiving was its CVT transmission. It was jerky, noisy, and unrefined which beats the point of having a CVT.
Speaking of the CVT transmission, the second-generation Myvi with its conventional 4-speed auto transmission even returned better fuel economy than the CVT driven Proton Iriz - so yeah, Proton Iriz was good if you wanted a car with a great chassis, but not so good if you wanted an all-around A to B car.
The Proton Iriz has received a couple of updates in its lifetime with the first one being in 2017
and another one in 2019. Although the CVT transmission vastly improved it was all a bit too late as Perodua countered Proton's attempts to propel the Proton Iriz forward in terms of sales with the third-generation Myvi in late 2017.
The third-generation Myvi which is practically a distant cousin of the Toyota Yaris but with a conventional 4-speed transmission chocked the air out of the Iriz, especially now that the Perodua hatchback is leaps and bounds better than the second-generation Myvi.
It's bigger, quieter, and feels more premium than ever which really did put the final blow into Proton's Iriz ambitions.
But all of this happened under Proton's old administration, and the new direction that Proton is in gives confidence of better products. Now we see spy shots of the new R3 Edition Iriz with yellow-black livery as witnessed on the sold-out Proton Saga Anniversary Edition.
Will, any of this make a difference to the fortunes of the Iriz?
Time will tell but we hope this time it's like the original vision that Proton had for it instead of "Ini Kali Lah".
What do you think needs to change for the Iriz to have a shot at dethroning the Myvi?