Saturday, February 6, 2010
The Proton Saga is a subcompact car, formerly a compact car manufactured by produced by Malaysian auto manufacturer Proton since September 1985. The name "Saga" was chosen from the winner of the contest which was held to choose the first car's name, Ismail Jaafar, a retired military soldier. This name was derived from "saga" (Abrus precatorius), which is a type of soft, fragile, oily, highly combustible but productive seed commonly found in Malaysia, and incidentally, the Proton Saga 1.3 litre engine "is as strong as the saga seed".
The Saga and its variants contribute to most of Proton's sales and revenues since its introduction. For nearly 22 years, the first-generation Saga is the longest surviving Proton model to date, ahead of its mid size car, the Proton Perdana. The original Saga model was originally based on the 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore to avoid R&D costs, and retained it throughout its production lifespan. In 2008, a long overdue successor designed in-house by Proton was launched to conceal the aging platform. In August of that year, the 3 millionth car produced by Proton was a second generation Proton Saga.
First generation Saga (1985–1991)
The Proton Saga was launched in September 1985 by Malaysia's then Prime Minister, Mahathir Bin Mohamed. Before the production of Proton Saga, a contest was held to choose the name of the first national car, and the name Saga was chosen from the winner of the contest, Ismail Jaafar, a retired military soldier. When asked why he chose this particular name, he replied as "saga" (Abrus precatorius) is a type of soft, fragile but productive seed commonly found in Malaysia, and joked that the Proton Saga 1.3 litre engine "is as strong as the saga seed".
The first known Proton Saga to roll off the production line was presented to the Malaysian National Museum as a symbol of the beginning of the Malaysian automotive industry. Tun Dr. Mahathir also drove another Proton Saga with a Jalur Gemilang across the Penang Bridge and to Penang Airport during the opening ceremony of the bridge on 14 September 1985.
Early Saga models were powered by SOHC 8-valve 4-cylinder petrol engines sourced from Mitsubishi, available in both 1.3- and 1.5-litre displacements. Both engines were available with a 5-speed manual transmission, but a 3-speed Mitsubishi Tri-matic automatic was available with the 1.5-liter engine in 1987.
The Saga was originally offered as a 4-door saloon, followed by the addition of a hatchback variant, introduced in 1988 as the Proton Knight and was later known as Saga Aeroback. The Proton Knight was designed for the European market as the hatchback was more popular in United Kingdom.
In 1989, Proton sold the Saga in the United Kingdom with the slogan Recyled Japanese Technology + Hot Malaysian Style = Proton. Since then, United Kingdom contributes most of Proton's export sales. The Saga name was not used and it was simply known as the Proton 1.3 or 1.5. The UK models reverted to the dashboard used in the Mitsubishi Lancer, complete with HVAC controls not found in the domestic model.
In 1990, the line-up was revised with the introduction of 12-valve Megavalve engines, which increased power ratings to 75 bhp (56 kW) (from the original 70.5 bhp (53 kW) in the former 8-valve (Magma) version) for the 1.3-litre engine, and 90 bhp (67 kW) for the 1.5-litre engine. On domestic models, the Saga also gained the "Megavalve" moniker. Minor exterior modifications included a new grill and wraparound black trim pieces. In addition, rear seat belts and a third brake light were fitted as standard.
Saga Iswara (1992–2008)
In 1992, the Saga was given a facelift and its name expanded as Proton Saga Iswara (also known in short as Proton Iswara), after a species of butterfly in Sarawak. Modifications included slimmer headlights, plastic bumpers, side mouldings, coloured door handles, grooved taillight clusters and rear number plate repositioned to the bumper. In addition, new colors for automatic transmission models were introduced as well. This particular model is used as taxis in Malaysia and some are converted to NGV. Due to the modification, boot space was reduced by half to accommodate the NGV tank and there are only a few petrol stations by Malaysian oil-giant Petronas in the Klang Valley that sell natural gas, although there are plans underway to increase the number of stations selling it at various locations around Kuala Lumpur.
Models exported to Singapore and the United Kingdom were available with multi-point fuel injection and catalytic converters to meet Euro I emissions standards. This model was known as the Proton MPi in the United Kingdom. The introduction of the Proton Persona in 1993 replaced the corresponding models in the Saga range in the United Kingdom and this continued until the entire range was replaced in 1996.
In 2001, to regain sales and be competitive with Perodua, Proton introduced a special edition of Saga Iswara Sport based on the Aeroback version which included a new bodykit, metallic rear wing, jewel-effect headlights and Altezza lights, among other changes. It was only available in silver, with a manual transmission and a 1.3-litre engine. The original Saga Iswara Aeroback was still available in a 1.5-litre engine.
While the Iswara Aeroback underwent further modifications in the domestic market to become the Saga LMST in 2003, the saloon variant remained on sale unchanged.
As a loose successor to the Saga Iswara Sport, Proton gave the Iswara a new facelift and renamed it back to Saga (or know as Saga LMST by local car community) in 2003. The interior has an entirely new dashboard, door panels and an instrument panel with a digital display consisting of an odometer, a fuel gauge and a temperature gauge, a very big improvement from the circa 1980 Japanese designs. Meanwhile, the exterior received new headlights and taillights and colour-coded bumpers and wing mirrors. However, the car still looked like it was designed using a ruler and pen. Proton retuned the 1.3-litre carburettor engine, and fitted a new exhaust system and extractors, increasing its power rating to 83 bhp (62 kW). This was very proud accomplishment for Proton, considering they were effectively relying on early 1980s technology to achieve such power. To put this into perspective, the much more expensive and smaller sized Toyota Vitz 1.3, with all its modern Japanese technology, design and electronics put out around the same power and torque as the Malaysian tuned 1980s technology. It is only available with the 5-speed manual transmission.
On March 5, 2007, Proton launched the 50th Merdeka Anniversary Promotion in Malaysia, where they announced new price for the Proton Saga which were sold at RM26,999. Advertising campaigns for the Saga Aeroback used a notable rendition of Justin Timberlake's hit single SexyBack, with the lyrics changed to "AeroBack". The promotion was made as a support to Malaysia's 50th Merdeka Day and also to thank Proton's customers for their support since Proton Saga was first launched, receiving several minor cosmetic changes. The move was also an attempt by Proton to steal potential sales from Perodua's then-forthcoming budget supermini, the Viva. That year, the Proton Saga became the second best selling car behind Perodua MyVi and the best selling saloon car in Malaysia, with over 15,000 orders. This version is quite notably the fastest and the lightest version of the Saga series Proton has ever produced. However, many public complaints have been filed to this version including interior quality problems such as broken power window switches and uncontrollable flow of the air-conditioning system due to Proton's carelessness in skipping strict quality test to ship the car quickly from overwhelming demand during promotion time.
Second generation (2008–present)
On January 18, 2008, Proton unveiled the successor to the 2007 Saga, which was planned to be phased out in June 2008. Retaining the Saga name, the new car is an indigenous design, designed to outperform and outengineer the old Saga compact sedan and aeroback in every way. It's bodywork is essentially based on a stretched Proton Savvy. The new model is an in-house design developed in collaboration with Korea's LG CNS and Lotus Engineering. This model enables the Malaysian company play to its strength in the home market i.e. the three-box sedan. The Proton Saga is not planned for U.S. launch but will be sold throughout Southeast Asia, in China, India and Australia.
As of February 2008, approximately 23,000 customer bookings had been made for the car since its launch and the corresponding waiting time for delivery during that same period stretched up to 5 months.
On July 16, 2009, an electrical version of the Proton Saga was demonstrated at the University Putra Malaysia, Serdang.
The Saga comes in 3 different specifications with the choice of manual or auto transmissions starting from the base specced N model to the fully kitted M model. Aichi Kikai supplies the 5-speed manual while Mitsubishi makes the 4-speed automatic. The basic N model retails from RM31,500 to the RM39,800 high specced M model. The new Saga would be the cheapest Proton once the RM26,999 original is retired. Proton dubs the new Saga as "The People's Car".
Engine and performance
The new Saga is powered by the same 1.3-litre Campro engine (which was co-designed with Lotus) that is fitted to entry-level Gen-2s. Besides the 1.3L engine option, the 1.6-liter version is also available as an exclusive engine option for taxi operators before being offered to regular customers. Like other Proton models powered by Proton's own Campro engines, the 1.3-liter engine is rated at 94 hp (70 kW; 95 PS) at 6,000 rpm and 120 N·m (89 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm, while the 1.6-liter version (not including the Campro CPS engine which is not being used in the Saga) produces 114 hp (85 kW; 116 PS) at 6,500 rpm and 148 N·m (109 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm. Both engines feature the new Integrated Air-Fuel Module (IAFM) which varies the airflow into the engine to improve efficiency, smoothening out the problematic dip in the torque curve in the lower and middle rev ranges. Its output matches that of a 1.3-litre in the Satria Neo. Power delivery characteristics in both cars are remarkably different. The torque could be felt after 2,500 rpm as surging sensation through driver's body, all the way to climax at 4,000 rpm, where it drops off rapidly. The acceleration to highway speeds is good. The 5-speed manual from Aichi Kikai is geared towards the ultimate refinement at cruising speeds, but it does offer a good spread of torque everywhere, not to mention good overtaking power anywhere from 80-120 km/h. Suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar up front with a torsion beam in the rear. Its Lotus designed torsion beam suspension enables it to turn in sharply, hold its stance sideways through corners, understeering to a sizeable extent. Fuel economy is even better, ranging from approximately 6 L/100 km (47 mpg-imp; 39 mpg-US) for the manual transmission to 6.2 L/100 km (46 mpg-imp; 38 mpg-US) . for the auto and can rival a Toyota Prius when traveling at 80 km/h (50 mph) in fifth. Top speed is around 160 km/h (99 mph) As the Saga is designed as a city car , the air conditioning system has been made both more powerful and efficient, even at engine idling speeds. The ignition system has also been updated with coil-on-plugs instead of the traditional ignition cable system, eliminating power loss.
Cabin and interior
It has boot space of (413 l (14.6 cu ft)). Because the new Saga, like its predecessor, is expected to be standard among Malaysian taxicab operators, the car is designed to accommodate a compressed natural gas tank without considerably restricting boot space. There is ample room for 5 Malay adults of average height and bigger than the old Saga. Top-of-the-line version have a set of 14-inch tyres and ventilated disk brakes for added traction, providing the car with strong braking force and better road holding. Only one airbag for the driver is also fitted to the medium-specced models onward. There is no traction control, ABS, LSD or Electronic Stability Control available, despite Proton's numerous attempts at designing or licensing such technologies from other carmakers.
Since the official launch of the second generation Proton Saga in January 2008, the car has won 3 major automobile awards. Autocar Asean, the Malaysian edition of the longest running car magazine in history has awarded the new Saga "Winner of the Small Sedan/ Hatchback Category" for 2008. Shortly after that, the car was voted as the "Best People's Car" at the Asian Auto - VCA Auto Industry Award 2008. In November the same year, the new Saga won yet another major Malaysian automobile accolade when it was declared the "Winner of the Entry Level Car Category" under the New Straits Times/ Maybank Car of the Year Awards for 2008.
The Proton Gen-2 is an automobile manufactured by Malaysian carmaker Proton, and was launched in the third quarter of 2004. The Gen-2 uses a platform which is mostly Malaysian-developed.The platform has been extensively developed by Proton and their partner Lotus. The Gen-2 was initially codenamed the Proton Wira Replacement Model, hinting that the car was to replace the Proton Wira. The name Gen-2 is an abbreviation of 'Generation 2', to symbolized the 2nd generation of the very successful Wira as the 1st Generation.
The Gen-2 was among the first cars to be produced in Proton's Tanjung Malim plant, located in Proton City.
The Gen-2's platform is also used by the Proton Satria Neo (with a shortened wheelbase) and the Proton Persona (with an extended rear hang to form a more sedan-like body).
Proton owns Lotus Cars which was involved in the development of the car. The Gen-2 is the first Proton model to use the new Proton/Lotus developed Campro engine. The Gen-2 has a competitive 0-100 timing of 10.5 seconds for the 1.6 manual, which makes it a highly spirited drive. Even though the S4PH 1.6L engine, the first capacity fitted to the Gen-2, is contemporary in maximum power output, it suffers from poor mid-range torque.
This is due to its torque dip in the crucial 2,000 to 3,000 rpm operating range, where the torque actually decreases slightly before picking up back to its peak torque at 4,000 rpm. This torque characteristic can clearly be seen in manufacturer published engine performance curves and is widely attributed to the missing Camshaft Profiling System (CPS) technical feature that the engine was named after, but which was dropped from production allegedly for cost reasons. The original (non-CPS) Gen-2's ECU's Engine and Automatic Transmission mapping has been modified many times since the car's launch to improve perceived driving characteristics, but the upgrades do not improve what they expected. This undesirable torque dip was eventually corrected by Proton in 2008 with the introduction of the "new" Campro engine, designated Campro CPS, which finally can deliver camshaft profiling (variable valve timing) as part of the engine specification.
In Malaysia, the car goes head-to-head against the likes of the locally-assembled Hyundai Accent (Verna) and Kia Rio (Pride), but undercut these by about 20 percent. Against the ASEAN-made Honda City and Toyota Vios, the discount is even greater, at about 30 percent. Proton's price advantage in Malaysia can be attributed to a discriminatory tax structure that an ASEAN trade agreement was supposed to disallow by 2005. However, the Malaysian government preferred interpretation of the this deadline was 3 years later, by loose application of a 3 year exemption it once negotiated. However, even the 2008 deadline has been ignored as of this writing (April 2009).
Changes and facelifts
In 2005, a lower-spec version of Proton Gen-2 powered by 1.3L Campro engine was made available in Malaysia with automatic transmission option only at RM46,000.00. The 1.3 version is famous of its underpowered characteristics due to the car's heavy body weight and is made worse with the torque-dip genes of the Campro.
In December 2007, a new facelifted Proton Gen-2 was unveiled in Thailand in conjunction with the carmaker's entry into the Thai market. It also marks the first production Proton with the Campro CPS engine installed in the engine bay. The CPS variant is a High Line model only, producing 127 horsepower (95 kW) compared to a normal Campro's 110.
On the 3rd of March 2008, the facelifted 2008 Proton Gen-2 was launched in Malaysia. Two variants are available. The medium line variant is powered by the Campro IAFM engine, while the high line version uses the more powerful Campro CPS engine. Exterior changes include a new front bumper and rear spoiler, while the interior gets a new dashboard incorporating a glovebox, new door panels, and leather seats for the high line version.
Sometime after the launch of the standard Gen-2, comes the special edition. It is fitted with a full body-kit, leather seats and lightweight sport rims. Handling is slightly better with the broader tires fitted and it is more aerodynamic. Comes in Matt Black and Chilli Red colour.
Race • Rally • Research (R3) unveiled a prototype concept of the Gen-2 R3 at the Dreamcars Asia Motorshow 2005 on July 7, 2005. The close-to-production concept was developed to gauge public response to its styling and performance.
EVE Hybrid Concept
At the 2007 Geneva Motor Show from 8 to 18 March 2007, Proton and Lotus unveiled the concept model of the hybrid version of the Proton Gen-2. The hybrid concept is codenamed as EVE (Efficient, Variable, Environmental). The concept model will retain the same Campro engine as the main powerplant coupled together with an electric motor system to form the hybrid powerplant
The Proton Arena (or the Proton Jumbuck in the United Kingdom and Australia) is a small front wheel drive coupé utility manufactured by Malaysian automaker Proton. Introduced in 2002, the Arena is the only form of pickup truck by Proton, and is the only Proton model to enjoy significantly more popularity in its export market than domestically.
The Arena is based largely on Proton's Wira/Persona saloon, sharing similar frontal designs of the then current Wira and mechanics, but having a reduced seating capacity of two confined to a Wira-based cabin and featuring a rear cargo bed measuring 1,636 mm (64.4 in) x 1,349 mm (53.1 in) x 415 mm (16.3 in) with a maximum payload of 570 kg (1,257 lb) and a maximum load area of 1.64 m (65 in) x 1.18 m (46 in).
In Malaysia, the Arena is offered in three variants, which features a variety of cargo bed accessories and trims but do not vary mechanically:
* The "Freestyle", the base Arena model with an open bed, exposed metal sports bars, steel rims and hubcaps.
* The "Sportdeck", an open bed variant similar to the Freestyle with covered sports bars, body trims, and alloy rims.
* The "Fastback", an upmarket variant with a hard, streamlined tonneau cover-cum-camper shell (resembling a fastback body style), body trims, and alloy rims.
Like the Wira, the Arena is of unibody construction, but in order to sustain additional loads from the cargo bed, the Arena includes a load-bearing ladder frame connected to a "torque box" for improved body durability and strength.
The suspension configuration of the Arena consists of a combination of independent MacPherson strut suspensions from a saloon car at the front, and torsion beam, leaf sprung suspensions at the rear. Other modifications include the use of a rigid rear axle, an uprated front stabiliser bar, and 14" front ventilated discs and 9" rear drum brakes with load sensing proportioning valves (LSPV), optimised weight distribution and the use of reinforced high profile tyres. Lotus Engineering provided additional ride and handling enhancements.
Similar to the car it is based on, the Arena is powered by a 1.5 litre, 12-valve Electronically Fuel Injected (EFI) Mitsubishi 4G15 engine fitted with Proton's proprietary EMS 400 engine management system. The Arena was proclaimed to have met Europe's Euro 2 emission standards, and was also claimed to provide a good power-and-fuel efficiency balance by producing an output of 60.6 hp (45 kW) per litre and a power-to-weight ratio of 85.2 hp (64 kW) per tonne. While the engine offers a respectable fuel consumption rating (5.8 litre per 100 km on the highway and 8.5 litre per 100 km in the city), it struggles a lot when heavy loads are carried at the back.
In Malaysia, the Arena is often marketed for both commercial and recreation use. The stripped down Freestyle variant is specified to be targeted exclusively for a variety of commercial interests, while the Sportdeck variant is offered for both private owners and businesses. The Fastback variant, the top-of-the-line Arena, is targeted at private owners. While the three Arena variants are advertised as models for specialised tasks, all three models may be used in any way.
Although the Arena is offered in Malaysia, the truck is not a staple of the local Malaysian market and is mostly an export model (to the UK, Australia and South Africa, where coupé utilities are more marketable). Australia, where the Arena's nearest competitor sells for approximately $8,000 more, is its biggest buyer. It took over a niche left vacant since the demise of the Subaru Brumby.
While freely sold in Malaysia, no stringent third-party safety tests on the Arena were conducted or published publicly in the country. In September 2009, the Jumbuck was crash tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). The Jumbuck fared poorly, receiving a one-star rating out of five. The Jumbuck lacks many of the safety features offered in other modern automobiles, such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. The absence of such safety features in an attempt to lower retail pricing is suspected to be one factor for the one-star crash test result. Proton Cars Australia has criticised the choice of the Jumbuck for the test, arguing the vehicle is the last of an old platform and is due for a replacement in the middle of 2010.
Proton is a Malaysian automobile manufacturer headquartered in Shah Alam, Selangor, with a manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak. Founded in 1983, it was Malaysia's only carmaker until the establishment of its competitor Perodua in 1993. Its name is a Malay acronym for PeRusahaan OTOmobil Nasional (English: National Automobile Enterprise).
It is a core member of Proton Holdings Berhad, the holding company which is listed on Bursa Malaysia. Over 42% of its equity is owned by a government-owned company Khazanah Nasional Berhad, making it government-linked. For more than a decade since its establishment, this stake was jointly owned by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation until they sold its stake in that company.
It was established in 1983 under the direction of the former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Since then, it was Malaysia's dominant carmaker until the establishment of Perodua in 1993. Based on technology and parts from Mitsubishi Motors, production of the first model, the Proton Saga began in September 1985 at its first manufacturing plant in Shah Alam, Selangor. Initially the components of the car were entirely manufactured by Mitsubishi but slowly local parts were being used as technologies were transferred and skills were gained. The 100,000th Proton Saga was produced in January 1989.
Until the end of the 1990s, the car's logo featured the crest from Malaysia's coat of arms, featuring a crescent and a fourteen-pointed star. The new Proton logo features a stylized tiger head, as well as the change from the lowercase italic text "proton" to uppercase "PROTON". In 1993, a model called Proton Wira was introduced based on the Mitsubishi Lancer/Colt. More than 220,000 units were sold between 1996 and 1998. Proton Perdana, based on the Mitsubishi Galant/Eterna, was first produced in 1995, intended for higher end market. The Proton Waja (Proton Impian in UK), which launched early 2001, is the first car model designed internally by Proton. By 2002 Proton held a market share of over 60% in Malaysia, which was reduced to barely 30% by 2005 and is expected to reduce further in 2008 when AFTA mandates reduce import tariffs to a maximum of 5%.
With the acquisition of Lotus technologies in 1996 from ACBN Holdings (a company owned by the owner of Bugatti), Proton has gained an additional source of engineering and automotive expertise. This led to the production of Proton Gen-2 which was code name Wira Replacement Model (WRM) before the launch. The Gen-2 is the first of cars to be manufactured and assembled at the new manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak which is part of Proton City development project. The plant was opened in 2004. On 8 June 2005 Proton introduced the second model to be manufactured in Tanjung Malim, the 1,200 cc 5-door supermini, the Proton Savvy. Both the Gen-2 and Savvy, were models that MG Rover was looking to rebadge when the British firm entered into collaboration talks with Proton. However these joint-venture talks were unsuccessful and MG Rover subsequently collapsed.
In 2007, Proton launch its new sedan as replacement version for Wira Sedan but with new name, Persona, which was previously used as an export name for models outside Malaysia. The new Proton Saga replacement model (codename Proton BLM) was launched on 18 January 2008. The new Saga is based on the Savvy platform, but using Campro 1.3L instead of Renault engine. It was announced on August 8, 2008 that Proton is developing a new, fuel-efficient hybrid car to beat rising costs and address environmental concerns. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters that he had already test-driven the car and urged the company to continue researching energy-saving techonologies. In addition, Proton has entered talks with Mitsubishi Motors once again, and talks are going positive. This includes the Waja replacement based on the Mitsubishi Lancer and the rebadging of Proton Persona and Proton Exora as Mitsubishi vehicles in certain markets.
As of 3 August 2008, Proton has produced 3 million cars since 1985, where the 3 millionth car is a second-generation Saga.