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The 2016 Proton Saga will be the next model to be introduced from the national carmaker, after the new Persona and Perdana. During the first media preview of the Perodua Bezza rival, we were told the bookings for the new Saga will begin from Saturday, September 24, with tentative prices between RM37k and RM46k.

We also got up close with the four variants that will be offered at launch – Standard (MT), Standard (AT), Executive (AT) and Premium (AT). All four will be powered by the same engine found in the Iriz – 1.3 litre VVT (replacing the old IAFM+ unit) – with 94 hp at 5,750 rpm and 120 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Transmission options include a five-speed manual (Standard only) and a CVT (all variants).

Despite similar outputs, Proton claims the new Saga is both quicker and more economical than before. The manual version now gets to 100 km/h in 12.2 seconds (from 13.0 secs), and consumes 5.4 l/100 km at 90 km/h (from 6.0 l/100 km). Meanwhile, the CVT does 100 km/h in 13.1 seconds (from 14.5 secs), and 5.6 l/100 km at 90 km/h (from 6.3 l/100 km). Improvements introduced on the Persona (three-point engine mount for better NVH, revised ECU for better response) are present here too.

Based on the current Saga – with the same 2,465 mm wheelbase – the new car gets different dimensions from the outgoing model – longer (+74 mm), wider (+9 mm) and lower than before (-11 mm). The car also gets a brand-new design, inside and out, plus Proton has also stiffened the car’s chassis by 20%, as well as introduce quicker steering (still a hydraulically-assisted system), lighter door closing effort and an improved ride and handling package.

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As for standard kit, we begin with the Saga Standard, which comes with 13-inch steel wheels (with plastic covers), rear fog lamps, front and rear parking sensors, dual airbags, a single-DIN head unit (with Bluetooth), USB charging ports and Isofix child seat anchors. It also gets unpainted wing mirrors, door handles and rear garnish, plain black fabric seats, as well as a black-themed interior.

Moving to the mid-range Saga Executive, which comes with a CVT only, you’ll find the addition of body-coloured wing mirrors (now power-adjustable), door handles and rear garnish, black-painted B-pillars, front fog lamps and a rear bootlid spoiler. Other addition include 14-inch alloy wheels, added gloss grey accents to the interior (outer air-con vents and steering wheel trim) and fabric seats with a mesh pattern.

Finally, the Saga Premium introduces Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with hill-hold assist, along with fancier 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear garnish finished in chrome. You’ll also get a useful reverse camera, where the rearview mirror features an integrated display to show the camera’s video feed (like on top Exora models), a double-DIN head unit with steering audio controls, fabric seats with a wavy pattern and more gloss grey trim on the gear lever.

All Saga models get reflector halogen headlamps (with Proton lettering), a chrome front grille, folding rear bench seat, 420 litre boot capacity (seven litres more than before), along with a four-star ASEAN NCAP crash safety rating. There will be a total of six colours offered for the new Saga: white, silver, black, red, blue (new) and grey (new). Additionally, each purchase will include a 3+2 year warranty or 150,000 km, whichever comes first (up from three-year/100,000 km coverage).

Here’s the variant breakdown in detail:

2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Standard MT/CVT

1.3 litre VVT engine
94 hp at 5,750 rpm, 120 Nm at 4,000 rpm
Ecodrive Assist
Reflector halogen headlamps
Rear fog lamp
Front and rear parking sensors
13-inch steel wheels (with 175/70R13 Silverstone Synergy M3 tyres)
Unpainted side mirrors, door handles and rear garnish
Manually-adjustable side mirrors
Body-coloured B-pillars
Black interior
Tilt-adjustable steering wheel
Single-DIN headunit with Bluetooth, USB and AUX input
USB charging ports
Fabric seats – plain black upholstery
Height-adjustable driver’s seat
420-litre boot with space saver spare tyre
Folding rear bench seat
Isofix child seat anchors with top tether
Two airbags
Front disc brakes, rear drums

2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Executive CVT

Adds on:
Front fog lamps
14-inch snowflake Y-spoke alloy wheels (with 185/60R14 Silverstone Kruizer1 NS800 tyres)
Body-coloured side mirrors, door handles and rear garnish
Power-adjustable side mirrors
Black B-pillars
Rear bootlid spoiler
Gloss grey trim on outer air-con vents and steering wheel
Fabric seats – mesh pattern upholstery
Front seat back pockets
ABS with EBD and BA

2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium CVT

Adds on:
15-inch turbine split-spoke alloy wheels (with 185/55R15 Silverstone Kruizer1 NS800 tyres)
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Hill-hold assist
Double-DIN headunit with Bluetooth, USB and AUX input
Reverse camera (with integrated rearview mirror display)
Steering wheel audio controls
Gloss grey trim on gear lever and surrounds
Fabric seats – wavy pattern upholstery

All models get these improvements:

1.3 VVT engine (replaces IAFM+)
Manual performance – 0-100 km/h in 12.2 seconds (from 13.0 secs)
Manual economy – 5.4 l/100 km at 90 km/h (from 6.0 l/100 km)
CVT performance – 0-100 km/h in 13.1 seconds (from 14.5 secs)
CVT economy – 5.6 l/100 km at 90 km/h(from 6.3 l/100 km)
Three-point engine mounts for better refinement
Retuned ECU for better CVT throttle response
Improved ride and handling package
Tyres with lower rolling resistance, better wet grip (quieter by 2 dB)
Four-star ASEAN NCAP crash safety rating (from three-star)
Quicker, more direct steering rack (16:1 ratio, from 20:1)
Tighter turning radius (5.1 m, from 5.3 m)
Lighter door closing effort (15 kgf, from 25 kgf)
Lighter steering effort (2.75 kgf, from 3.0 kgf)
Improved torsional stiffness (12,000 Nm/deg, from 10,000 Nm/deg)

Proton is hoping to sell around 5,000 Sagas per month following the model’s launch, with plans to export to right-hand drive ASEAN markets (export production to start four months after Malaysian launch). We’ve already driven the 2016 Proton Saga – read our first impression of the new model here. What are your thoughts on what the new model has to offer? Will you be interested to get one over the Perodua Bezza? Sound off in the comments below.

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