How It All Started
I have had a passion for cars ever since I was a kid, Honda was one of the car brands that I love the most especially the Honda Civic but it was all just a dream back then. I promised myself to own it one day but that's just a story for another day. My intention to buy a car was when I started my University life, thinking how good it'll be to go anywhere I wanted without asking my parent's favour to fetch me around. Of course it didn't happen back then as our family was living a moderate life without any extra budget to purchase a car. It was until the end of my degree life where my younger brother started to go college and that's when my family and I thought that we needed a car for daily usage where I can fetch my brother to campus while I can use it for my upcoming intern to work.
As I was looking into which car I should buy, I looked into the 3 main points, which is reliability, cost of maintain and of course most importantly for me, the price. I shortlisted 2 cars which are Proton Iriz Executive 1.6 and Perodua Myvi H 1.5. I love hatches and the facelifted Iriz Executive 1.6 and Myvi H 1.5 caught my liking, with superb fuel consumption on both and great ride and handling on the other hand. However I have ruled out Myvi as my option as it was the most expensive among the 3 with the price at around RM50K and too mainstream. I really loved the Iriz, but after watching the review of the car time and time again, I still can't digest that front grille with that so called "Arterial Bow" design, I would have definitely chosen the Iriz if it has the same "Infinite Weave" front grill as Proton Persona which looked more balanced as I would say in the front.
Then came the facelifted 2019 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium AT, I remember I was watching their launching event on Facebook Live, anxiously waiting to see how will the car look like. Then came the car and my goodness, what a beautiful car it is. With its "Infinite Weave" front grill, and nice-looking bumper, sporty rims and the floating display head unit. What's more beautiful is the price, it is priced just under RM40K and that the transmission has changed from the jerking and problematic CVT to a Hyundai's 4AT then I knew this car fits all the 3 main points that I want although the 4AT fuel consumption will not be as good as CVT but I couldn't care less as the whole package of the car was just, tremendously good. At the end, even though it wasn't a hatch, the price and looks changed my decision.
I went to Proton's year end carnival to look at the car myself. I made the decision to buy the 2019 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium AT on the spot without even test driven it on the on December 7 2019. I waited almost a month for me to get the car because the salesperson told that on the month itself it has over 2000-ish booking and told me that if I were to be picky on colours I might have to wait even longer but I insisted for Armoured Silver and therefore the 1 month wait, I can still remember clearly it was the 14th of Jan 2020, the salesperson was based in Setapak KL and I lived in Puchong so that was a good 30 mins drive to the showroom. While on the way to the showroom with my mum and brother, we are so excited and bringing it home for the first time was such a great feeling.
I have owned this 2019 Proton Saga 1.3L Premium AT for about 5 months now and have clocked in roughly 3500km on the mileage. Let's start with fuel consumption, the Proton Saga's fuel consumption is okay for proper city drive to be honest with an average 8.5 L/100KM and on the long distance it was quite impressive on a smooth drive from KL to JB have an average of 6.5-7L/100KM so I must say pretty decent for the fuel consumption.
The boot space for the car is pretty massive too, although it is not as big as the Persona but it is more than enough for me as it can fit a set of 14 inches rims in it without a problem and still have plenty of spaces too.
The Infotainment sound system was very good but the "Easy Connection" is not very easy to connect and use at all and the touch screen function will be disable when you mirrorlink from your phone. But the reverse camera was good for me.
Interior Rattles and Exterior Defects
On my first week of driving, I noticed a strange noise whenever I go through an uneven road. There's a knocking sound on the front passenger side of the car. It was quite annoying given that the problem is there whenever I drive past an uneven road or a slope. The second issue that I faced was quite controversial as my ducktail spoiler's paint started to peel off, yes you heard that right during my usual car wash at home, I was using a normal sponge and a normal car wash detergent that I brought from Mr D.I.Y and mind you that I have already washed my car a few times with the same detergent and it was fine, but after my car wash that day and letting my car to dry, the paint started to slowly bloated up and fall of eventually.
On my 1000km service, I bring my car to the nearest service centre at my area Atiara Johan 3S for my first service and I told them my problem with the car and they fixed my knocking noise issue by putting a few sponge and foam tape to absorb the vibration and knocking for the front passenger side of the car and that was solved and as for the paint they told me that they are a 3S centre, understandably and advise me to go to Cose Proton service centre which was the HQ to lodge a complaint and claim my warranty for the paint issue.
On the same day I immediately booked an appointment for the checking on the following week at Cose Proton service centre. As my appointment came which I was booked for 9:30 am in the morning they asked me to wait for my turn and I'm not sure why when I already have my time slot arranged I was still asked to wait for almost another hour which was weird. Before it was my turn to meet an advisor and explain my case. After I sent my car in for inspection, they took a few photos and asked me to wait for their call whether the warranty is able to be claimed.
Then another week went on and I had received the call to replace my spoiler for a brand new one. I was quite happy with that and when I reached to install my new spoiler they apologised to me about it and said that it might be some QC issues and so on and I leave the service centre that day with my new spoiler without paying anything and got a free meal too!
As a car enthusiast, modifying the car to look nicer is definitely one of the must when getting a new car. And during the MCO period I have tons of time to do some DIY in my car interiors and exteriors.
- Shark Fin Antenna
Got to admit although the whole car looks nice I feel like the bee sting antenna doesn’t really look nice so I swapped mine for a shark fin antenna to make the car look more sporty on the rear end.
- Door Handle Cover
An item to protect the door handle bowl I installed because I feel that the part is very vulnerable to scratches and by having the cover it'll protect them well.
- Arm Rest
An arm rest is a must especially in a car where storage space is limited, it gives me more storage to store my items and of course, resting my arm on it.
- LED Turn Signals on Side Mirrors, LED Door Side Sill Plates and Sequential LED Signal Strips
I think it is one of the best DIY things that I have done to my own car, and I enjoyed it although it wasn't an easy process, it gives me more of a luxury and advanced vibes to the car and I love it a lot.
- Leather Wrap Steering Wheel
Sadly even the range topping premium model does not get a leather wrap steering wheel so I decided to DIY wrapping the whole steering wheel by myself, it took me almost 4hours to wrap the whole steering wheel but it was worth it in the end with better grip.
Pros and Cons
The Pros :
- Superb NVH and space
The car feels very quiet even at a high speed drive for this segment and at this price I can confidently say this is one of the best in the segment. Not to mention the boot space was pretty good for me.
- Safety features
Although it only comes with 2 airbags but the proper ABS, EBD, BA, Traction control and ESC is all provided at this price range so nothing much to complain from me.
- Ride and handling
The ride and handling of Proton has always been superb and going in corners and turns is such a breeze for me.The car was very stable in high speeds cruising and you feel safe driving it on highways.
The Cons :
- QC Issue
Something that Proton really needs to step up their class if they’re really serious in competing with other Asians brands, you can make a great car but without proper QC checks the car won’t sell well at all. Mine was a great example.
- The stock tires
The Silverstone tyre was extremely poor and the road noise was very loud but that was not the case, it was extremely dangerous to drive it in wet conditions and for this I hope Proton to seriously consider sourcing other brands for the tyres.
- Rear boot release
The rear boot release button on the key is pretty useless in my opinion, you have to press and hold for a good 2-3 seconds for the boot to be open and if slightly mispress it you’ll have to wait all over again, much better with an electronic open button on the handle.
- Proton add ons (Rear trunk boot cover)
Now this is very specific as I can’t comment on the models of proton or the other add ons of Proton Saga. But the one that I purchase which is a at a Proton Service centre for I think RM 70 and I can say it does not worth even a penny, the cover fell off after a few days as it is just an adhesive pad rather than clips covering which was very disappointing given that it cost that much.
Total Score: 4/5
Quality & Features: 4/5
Ride Comfort: 4/5
Fuel Economy: 3/5
Price & Cost: 5/5
If you asked me whether I regret buying this car or not, it would be a no. For me the Proton Saga has been a great daily drive car where you don’t mind seeing the mileage goes up, it is extremely comfortable to drive and easy to maintain. Proton Saga has been the pride of the nation for 31 years, without Proton there will be no Saga, and without the Saga there will not be a Proton we know today. This facelifted model definitely shows what Proton are capable of doing with their cars in the future and I definitely hope Proton will flourish in the upcoming years because as a Malaysian I am indeed very proud that we are a country that has a car company that produces and helps the automotive industry.