The Proton Saga is a product that is synonymous with being a part of Malaysian culture and heritage. The reason for this is its representation of Malaysia as a symbol of achievement back in 1985, when it was first unveiled.
With invitation extended to Mitsubishi Motors from then Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, it only took a mere two years from the partnership discussions with Mitsubishi in 1981, before the final prototype vehicle was complete – based on a Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore.
To garner more hype and confidence on the new Proton Saga, weeks before the official launch, Proton set out on a ‘Sagarama’ nationwide drive that included a ‘Sagathon Rally’ in Sabah-Sarawak. The endurance run involved 12 Proton Sagas and 37 participants over a drive of 1,111 km on mountain roads to prove the durability of Malaysia’s first national car. The cars proved well, with a completion of a 4,109 km drive in total without issues.
An abbreviation for Safety, Achievement, Greatness and Ability, the Saga quickly became the talk of the town and it made car ownership for Malaysians more accessible. Those searching for a cheaper Japanese alternative under RM 20,000 became a realistic dream. Priced at RM 17,757 and RM 19,005 for the 1.3 and 1.5 variants respectively, the 1985 Saga eventually gained a second bodystyle – Saga Aeroback, two years later.
Further iterations of the Saga continued years on. The first generation received a second facelift in 1990 which updated the engine to a 12-valve Megavalve unit. The Saga Iswara came not too long after, had multiple editions and stayed for just over a decade before a significant refresh done in 2003 modernised the Saga hatchback.
For 22 years, the first-generation Saga was finally replaced with a second-generation car in 2008 that came with smoother lines and a 1.3-litre Campro engine with IAFM (Integrated Air Fuel Module) that improved torque at lower revs. Today the Saga at its third generation is still relevant and important in Proton’s vehicle portfolio. For example, over 3,000 Saga’s found a home this April, a number unseen since last year’s tax-holiday period.
For those still sceptical of Proton’s build quality today, the brand’s current partner Geely has enhanced the vehicle production line by introducing the company’s Global Customer Product Audit (GCPA) process.
With the GCPA, Proton is able to identify and rectify any possible issues related to design, parts quality and manufacturing aspects related to a vehicle even before it reaches the showroom. With Geely also implementing GCPA as part of its manufacturing process, Proton has a target to aim for in its aim to improve the quality of its products.
What happens to the Saga from here? With the introduction of the facelift model just around the corner, the Saga is certainly in no risk of being replaced. With the launch of the X70 and updates to the Persona and Iriz, Proton is certain to keep it as a model continues to make Malaysians proud.
Want to know more about Proton’s latest 2019 Iriz and Persona? Click here for the rundown!
Also click here for the latest updated Exora!
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