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Newly-appointed Proton chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed that the next-generation Proton Saga will be unveiled in about a year’s time. According to a report by Berita Harian, the former prime minister said that the company is rushing to get the its new “Proton Saga 3″ model out as soon as possible.

“To produce a new model usually takes about three years. However, I am trying to accelerate the process and we might be able to produce the Saga 3 in just over a year,” he told the publication.

Presumably based on the upcoming P2-30A Global Small Car, Proton’s new entry to the B-segment sedan market will apparently make great strides in terms of design and quality, and will portray Proton as a manufacturer of high-quality cars instead of focusing on getting the lowest price possible.

“I want to see Proton becoming a manufacturer of quality cars, rather than a company that builds cheap cars,” said Mahathir. “We want to produce a car that is very different than what we have now, with better quality. The current Saga has to be replaced.”

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Mahathir also spoke about the future of the new Proton Perdana, which will make its mass market debut next year. He said that while the car will be based on the eighth-generation Honda Accord like the government version currently in use, it will feature much greater differentiation, possibly even receiving revised engines (the government Perdana gets the Accord’s 2.0 and 2.4 litre engines).

“We may use the same Honda engines and drivetrain as a base, but we will retune the engines,” said Mahathir. “Proton will produce a Perdana that will be completely different from the Honda Accord, so much so that you will not be able to recognise them. The model currently used by the government is basically a rebadged model, and we will not be producing rebadged cars in the future.”

He added that in terms of the proposed strategic collaborations with foreign manufacturers, Proton is now looking at companies from other countries instead of just those from Japan, but has still not decided on which one. The national carmaker was previously reported to be working with Geely to expand its market in China, and might even build cars based on Geely’s designs.

What do you think the next Saga should be like? Should it stay a bargain sedan for low-income families, or should it chase new heights of design and quality in the segment, at the cost (quite literally in this case) of an increased price tag?