Proton will be launching the latest generation of the historic Saga this week, and we got the opportunity to try it out before it’s unveiled to the public.
We started out trying the 1.3L Standard Manual variant, and we were so happy with it, we actually regretted trying it out first.
The initial acceleration was excellent, and it picked up speed smoothly and quickly, easily going up to 140km/h on Proton’s test track at its Centre of Excellence in Subang Jaya.
It felt stable even going on the circuit’s banking at between 120km/h and 140km/h, and the ride felt smooth throughout.
The car’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) had also improved significantly compared to its predecessors, making it a decently comfortable ride.
However, we found the gear lever to feel a bit loose, and the clutch was a bit too high, but these were nothing major and anybody who drives this car daily would be used to it in no time at all.
On the other hand, although the initial acceleration of the 1.3L Premium Automatic was about as good as the manual’s, we felt acceleration while driving was slightly inhibited, and we couldn’t get the speed up as fast as we wanted.
This is most probably due to the electronics kicking in, limiting the rpm and keeping the car stable, effectively limiting the speed in the process.
We had managed to get up to 140km/h on the banking with the manual, but with the automatic we only managed to get to about 125km/h-130km/h by the time we reached the banking.
The stability and smoothness of the drive was the same in both models we tried, but the steering wheel on the Premium was more comfortable under the hands.
We also felt the steering wheel was aligned slightly to the left, but it wasn’t enough to disrupt the driving experience.
As we only drove around on Proton’s test circuit, we couldn’t test the handling fully, but from what we did manage to experience, the handling was excellent, easily changing lanes and turning the corners on the circuit.
The one thing we really didn’t like about the car was the fact that the side mirrors had to be manually adjusted, which is fine on the driver’s side but can be tedious for the one on the passenger’s side if the driver is alone.
In terms of style, we were impressed with the design of the latest generation Saga.
It was designed to have a sporty look, and we believe on the outside this look was achieved quite well.
The full black interior made it look stylish on the inside as well, although the fabrics could be better; but we wouldn’t expect too much from a car made to be affordable to the masses.
Its sloping roof makes it look almost coupe-like, adding a touch of elegance to the historic car.
In terms of comfort, we found the back passenger seat to be more comfortable than the front, as the design of the front seats made us feel like our shoulders were being pushed forward, so we felt a little hunched at the front.
This isn’t noticeable when driving over a short distance, but over long distances this could get uncomfortable for the more broad-shouldered drivers.
The centre console was also a little too low, making the controls slightly out of reach which could make it difficult to adjust air-conditioning temperature and radio when driving.
An especially impressive feature is the reverse camera on the Premium variant, which is displayed inside the rearview mirror instead of on a monitor, which frees up room in the centre for things such as your dashcam, handphone dock or navigation unit.
If you’re looking for an affordable car just to get you to where you want to go, we suggest you include the new Proton Saga in your shortlist.