The Proton Saga was updated yesterday with some mild design changes and several new features, helping to keep the evergreen entry-level sedan fresh on the market. Of course, we have read your comments, many of which are a variation of “why is this yet another facelift?” and “why still no new Saga?” and “Proton is now a facelift company.”

We put these comments to deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah and he said he understood the public sentiment, although he did list the company’s reasons for opting against a full redesign. He said a company as small as Proton, which derives a vast majority of its sales from the Malaysian market, doesn’t have the volume to recoup the investment of an all-new model. “If we want to follow the footsteps of, for example, Japanese OEMs [in developing a new model] every five to six years, we need a big volume for amortisation.”

Essentially, Roslan is saying that without the economies of scale, the national carmaker needs to maintain the same base structure underneath to keep costs low, only making “enhancements for certain requirements so that the price meets the customer’s expectation.” He likened the Saga to the Maruti Suzuki 800 in India, which received few changes from its second generation in 1986 to its discontinuation in 2014.

“If we change everything, the vendors will surely make noise because of the unmet volume. We could price it higher so that everyone is happy, but then the customers won’t be happy,” he said. “We cannot just change. If customers can afford to pay for it, I’m OK, but actually they cannot.” We should point out that any price increase would put the Saga within range of the larger and more advanced Persona, which starts a RM45,200 – less than RM1,000 more expensive than where the A-segment sedan tops out.

Exports to other countries – including Proton’s largest export market Pakistan, where local assembly of the Saga kicked off in October – are part of the company’s efforts to build sales volume, Roslan said, presumably to justify a larger investment in a new model.

Lest we forget, the Saga has been kicking around for nearly 15 years. It received a comprehensive makeover in 2016, but the car can trace its roots – and its platform – to the Base Line Model (BLM) that reintroduced the Saga nameplate in 2008. It lineage goes back even further than that, as the BLM was essentially a sedan version of the Savvy hatchback, which first made its appearance back in 2005.

The Saga’s roots trace back to the BLM from 2008

That 2016 revamp was significant, however, with far-reaching visual, mechanical and structural changes – enough that Proton refers to the car as the third-generation Saga. The 2019 facelift built on that strong base with considerable updates of its own, including a new infotainment touchscreen and a switch from the much-maligned Punch CVT to a Hyundai-sourced four-speed automatic.

Yesterday’s Minor Change 2 (MC2) was less major but it did bring some welcome upgrades, such as the new Proton logo, redesigned 15-inch alloy wheels, a bodykit on the new range-topping Premium S variant, a retuned chassis, expanded availability of stability control and the third interior makeover in six years.

It also introduced a number of convenience features Proton added to its other models over the years, including keyless entry, push-button start, auto-folding door mirrors and (finally) an external boot release. Pricing ranges from RM34,400 to RM44,300; you can read our launch report here for full details.

GALLERY: 2022 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium S