Proton has been saddled with the kuat makan minyak reputation for years now, and the Proton 1-Tank Adventure contest is the carmaker’s riposte. Like last year’s inaugural edition, the 2019 event saw participants experience the sights, sounds and cuisine of Malaysia while trying to squeeze out as many kilometres possible from a tank of petrol.

The Proton 1-Tank Adventure 2019 kicked off in Peninsular Malaysia (there were also also rounds in Sabah and Sarawak) over the recent Malaysia Day long weekend. A total of 60 participants in 30 cars comprising the 2019 Proton Iriz, Persona and Saga set off on a route that covered 650 km from Proton’s Centre Of Excellence HQ in Shah Alam to Johor Bahru and back.

Our Hafriz Shah was part of the drive, and while he didn’t win, our man managed to coax out a decent set of figures from the Saga 1.3 Premium – how about 36.7 litres of fuel to cover 651.8 km? That’s 5.6 litres per 100 km (17.76 km/l) or 11.7 sen per kilometre at today’s RON 95 price of RM2.08 per litre.

By the way, the top FC figures for the Peninsular Malaysia round of the 1-Tank Adventure were 4.98 litres per 100 km (20.1 km/l) for the Saga, 5.43 litres per 100 km (18.4 km/l) for the Persona and an event best 4.94 litres per 100 km (20.2 km/l) for the Iriz.

Hafriz said that around 70% of the route was off the highway, and packed with traffic typical of a long weekend. With videographer Kamal in the passenger seat (you would have seen our resident funnyman in Driven’s #KemonCrew videos), he followed the traffic flow (as opposed to crawling along) and had the air con on the entire time. Highway cruising was done at 80-90 km/h. The conditions weren’t extreme, as it sometimes can be in “eco challenge” events targeted at the media.

“Proton has carried this kuat makan minyak reputation for ages now. Having actual Proton owners driving their own cars through the long journey, with all of them not only reaching the destination but also averaging impressive fuel economy figures, goes a long way to set the record straight,” Hafriz said.

“Personally, I’ve already done the 1-Tank Adventure last year, so the fuel consumption part is not new to me. What is a genuine surprise however, is the 2019 Saga’s improved comfort and refinement qualities. It far exceeded my own expectations of what an affordable entry-level car can be,” he added.

Watch the video for Hafriz’s full account. Of course, driving the 2019 Saga from KL to JB and back also gave him the chance to experience the recently refreshed budget sedan, which now has a Hyundai-sourced four-speed automatic in place of the old CVT, among many changes. Inside, the main highlights are the new instrument cluster and an Android-base touchscreen head unit, presented in a Mercedes/Mazda “floating” style.

You’ve already read our full written review of the latest Saga, now watch the video for additional notes on the Saga’s drive.