PETALING JAYA, Aug 22 — Driving around in your car only to see a brand-new version of it pull up next to you can be quite disheartening.
It basically looks the same but has been given a “face-lift”, making it better than your current vehicle with new design elements and additional features.
So, there was a tad of jealousy when I saw the new 2019 Proton Saga (I own the 2016 version) upon being invited for a media drive to Ipoh recently.
The Proton Saga is a car that is dear to not only the company but to most Malaysians.
It is after all, our country’s first-ever national car.
With that being said, the team at Proton has taken the opportunity to revamp the honest and humble symbol of the Saga extremely seriously as more than half of the total four million Proton cars sold, are Proton Saga’s.
The Saga team spent around 15 months to create the 2019 model, with 77 improvements made, involving 211 parts, from the previous model.
The 2019 Saga comes in three variants, which are the Standard Manual Transmission (MT), Standard Auto Transmission (AT) and Premium Auto Transmission (AT).
There are five colour sets: Snow White, Armour Silver, Jet Grey, Rosewood Maroon and Ruby Red.
The cars are priced from RM32,800 to RM39,800.
The new Saga now looks more “expensive” especially when compared to the 2016 model, despite still being a budget sedan.
All three variants of the Saga sport new-look front and rear bumpers, with the front bumper now equipped with LED daytime running lights and a classier Infinite Weave front grille.
The rear of the car has seen a change of bumper and the addition of an integrated rear spoiler.
The wheels are updated too, as the new 15-inch alloy wheel design incorporated with floral elements is definitely an upgrade from the 13-inch steel wheels with plastic covers on my 2016 model.
The interior of the car also has several new features including a new sun visor which has a ticket holder and mirror attached, new upholstery and new LED map lights in the front portion of the car.
All variants are powered by the four-cylinder 16 valve 1.3-litre VVT engine, like the 2016 gen model
But there is a new four-speed automatic gearbox which replaces the outgoing Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), resulting in a more dynamic and durable automobile.
In terms of speed, the 2019 Saga is an improvement from its predecessor as it can reach higher speeds with relative ease, as compared to the 2016 model which I must really push to obtain.
With added features like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Hold Assist (HHA), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist and an added Sport Mode, the 2019 model cruised along the picturesque views on the highways of Ipoh almost effortlessly at higher speeds.
Keep it at 120 kmh and under for the Eco Mode to kick in—saving you a trip to the gas station.
The new Sport Mode allows the driver to overtake with ease as well, as the car maintains a higher power band and rev when put into the “S” gear.
The HHA is also intelligent enough, even in “D”, to adapt as the pressure changes when going uphill — so the driver does not have to worry about knowing when and where to change gears.
However, one drawback would have to be the responsiveness of the accelerator and brake pedals.
Getting the car moving from a standstill takes time as there is a slight “lag” or delay from when the pedal is stepped on to the car’s forward movement.
The brake pedal, on the other hand, requires a bit of a push as the “braking” feel only comes after a good amount of pressure is applied — taking a longer time to have an effect, despite its good braking power.
In terms of comfort, the 2019 Saga model has certainly outdone itself as it has newly integrated features which make driving much more comfortable.
The car is equipped with many high-tech additions from the 2016 model with features like, a multi-information display, remote trunk release, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, an overhauled sound system, steering wheel volume control and a 7-inch floating infotainment monitor.
The multi information display was particularly interesting for me as the new look tachometre and odometre are partnered with a digital representation of the car, which works in tandem with the front and rear sensors, alerting drivers when they get too close to an object.
The remote trunk release was also added to facilitate consumer comfort and ease, as there is no longer a “trunk button” on the chassis itself, as the button made way for the reverse camera, which makes parking a lot more relaxed.
Plus, with a 7-inch infotainment monitor, scrolling through your music became much easier as well, as the display screen is exceptionally responsiveness to touch, has a 16Gb internal storage and is also compatible with Android smartphones.
In a nutshell, the 2019 Saga is definitely a smoking deal as it blends the best of performance, beauty and comfort into the iconic Proton vehicle, which is also the lowest-priced budget sedan to come with ESC.
But you might want to opt for the Premium AT variant as features like the HHA and reverse camera, among others, are only available in that variant.