We’ve seen the spyshots and teasers, and we’ve even driven it, but now it’s finally time for the new 2016 Proton Saga to face the world. The budget sedan has officially been launched at the Setia City Convention Centre today, and while it’s the last of Proton’s three sedans to be introduced this year, it’s arguably the most important, as it represents the national carmaker’s bestselling model.
Sitting at the entry level of the company’s range, the new Saga is priced at RM36,800 for the Standard manual variant and RM39,800 for the CVT. Moving up, the Executive CVT retails at RM42,800, while the Premium tops out at RM45,800. All prices are on-the-road inclusive of insurance and a five-year/150,000 km warranty, up from the old model’s three-year/100,000 km coverage.
The new car is built on the bones of the outgoing Saga, but don’t let anyone tell you that it’s just a facelift. There’s a lot that’s changed since the second-generation BLM model was originally introduced way back in 2008, so let’s get to it.
Based on outgoing Saga, but heavily revised
The measuring tape alone indicates that there’s been a significant rework – at 4,331 mm long, 1,689 mm wide and 1,491 mm tall, the Saga is not only 74 mm longer than before, but also 9 mm wider and 11 mm lower. Only the wheelbase remains the same, at 2,465 mm. The longer overhangs are likely the reason why the boot is now seven litres larger, at 420 litres.
Also getting a revamp is the design – the front gets more organic reflector halogen headlights (with Proton script on both the head- and tail lights), a new dual-bar grille reminiscent of the Perdana (and the original 1985 Saga) and a massive Persona-esque lower grille that flows under the front fog light surrounds.
Moving back, the surfacing has been made less angular than before, with a rising shoulder line that carries the Iriz-derived door handles and terminates at the tail lights – providing a more dynamic appearance. The C-pillar also gains a new BMW-style kink.
At the rear, there are new trapezoidal two-piece tail lights (now using regular bulbs instead of the previous LEDs, unfortunately) joined together by a horizontal bar; a more aggressive rear bumper with a diffuser-style black insert completes the look.
A considerably revised cabin features inside. Up front is a redesigned centre console incorporating the centre air vents, the head unit, a wider row of buttons (needed to control additional functions, such as central locking, front parking sensors and front and rear fog lights) and the carryover air-con controls.
Other details to note are the rectangular air vents with increased slats (no longer able to be closed), Iriz-style faux dashboard stitching, a new gearlever (also derived from the Iriz) for the CVT, revised instrument cluster graphics and a new three-spoke steering wheel from the Exora, Prevé and Suprima S. The door cards have also been restyled, while a new folding rear bench adds an extra dimension of practicality.
New VVT engine, 1.3 litre only, improved chassis
All models are powered by the 1.3 litre VVT four-cylinder engine, and only that engine. The removal of the 1.6 litre option offered on the previous model is part of a range-wide restructuring, providing some breathing space for the Persona that’s only available with the larger mill. Despite being a new engine, outputs remain identical at 94 hp at 5,750 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Transmission options have also been streamlined, with the five-speed manual gearbox only available on the base Standard variant; by contrast, all models get a CVT. The latter is a CVT2+ unit, and is said to be significantly improved over the one in the Iriz.
Other refinements to the powertrain include drop in engine mount count – which themselves have been redesigned – from four to three, in order reduce the transmission of vibrations into the cabin. The ECU has also been retuned for a more linear throttle response.
Despite similar outputs, the Saga is now quicker than before, with the manual clocking a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 12.2 seconds (0.8 seconds faster), and the CVT model doing the deed in 13.1 seconds (1.4 seconds faster). It’s also more fuel efficient – Proton quotes consumption figures at 90 km/h of 5.4 litres per 100 km with the manual (down from 6.0 l/100 km) and 5.6 litres per 100 km with the CVT (from 6.3 l/100 km).
The body is now 20% stiffer, and the doors require less effort to close. Underneath, the chassis has been revised with new springs, dampers and engine bay strut bar to ensure better handling and control, while the steering has been made quicker and lighter; the steeper steering rack angle also tightens the turning circle.
More equipment, improved safety
Kicking off the new Saga range, the Standard variant gets taxi-style 13-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, a rear fog lights, black plastic exterior trim, front and rear parking sensors, plain black upholstery, a single-DIN head unit with Bluetooth connectivity, USB rear charging ports and an ECO Drive Assist indicator from the Persona.
The mid-range Executive variant adds front fog lights, 14-inch snowflake-pattern alloy wheels, body-coloured exterior trim, black B-pillar trim, a rear bootlid spoiler, gloss grey interior trim and mesh-pattern upholstery.
Stepping up to the range-topping Premium model nets you intricate 15-inch alloy wheels, a chrome rear horizontal bar, wave-pattern upholstery, multifunction steering wheel controls, a gloss grey gearlever, a double-DIN head unit from the Exora and a reverse camera that feeds the view to a small display on the rear-view mirror (also from the Exora).
Dual airbags are standard on the new Saga, along with ISOFIX child seat mounts with top tethers – putting the whole tethergate saga (hah!) to bed. Impressively, the Premium model also adds stability control and hill-start assist; however, ABS with EBD and brake assist is only available on the Executive variant upwards, which is a right shame. All models get a four-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating, up from three.
Here’s the variant breakdown in detail:
Proton Saga 1.3L Standard – RM36,800 (MT), RM39,800 (CVT)
- 1.3 litre VVT engine
- 94 hp at 5,750 rpm, 120 Nm at 4,000 rpm
- ECO Drive 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, two speakers
- 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
Proton Saga 1.3L Executive CVT – RM42,800
- 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
- Single-DIN headunit with Bluetooth, USB and AUX input, four speakers
- Fabric seats – mesh pattern upholstery
- Front seat back pockets
- ABS with EBD and BA
2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium CVT – RM45,800
- 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, four speakers
- Reverse camera (with integrated rear-view 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). Colours available are Topaz Blue, Metal Grey, Fire Red, Sterling Silver, Cotton White and Midnight Black. We’ve already driven the 2016 Proton Saga – read our first impression of the new model here.
GALLERY: 2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium
GALLERY: 2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Executive
GALLERY: 2016 Proton Saga 1.3L Standard
GALLERY: 2016 Proton Saga official images