Proton has launched an all-new version of the entry level Saga, the car that put the company on the map in its home country Malaysia.
The new Proton Saga was launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi with the company's new entry-level offering generating huge demand in the first week on the market.
Like its predecessor which was launched 21 years ago the new model has been designed very much as a people's car, with a low overall purchase price and frugal running costs.
The new Saga will have a starting price in Malaysia of approximately $AUD 10,000 ranging up to around $ AUD 13,000 for the premium model and sips fuel at the rate of just six litres per 100km for the manual and around 6.3 litres for the auto.
The new Saga is powered by an improved 1.3 litre version of Proton's own Campro double overhead camshaft multipoint injection engine fitted with a new Air-Fuel Intake designed for better torque and driveability.
Proton Holdings managing director Syed Zainal said the company has very much targeted the new for the Asean region and has targeted initial production of between 5500 and 6000 units per month with initial demand running at even higher levels.
"This car, we believe, has high export potential for growing market segments such as the Asean countries, China, India and the Middle East. In terms of packaging, it has a potential global reach," Syed Zainal added.
"The initial foray will be in right-hand drive markets during the first half of the year in Asean countries, such as Indonesia and Thailand while the left-hand drive version will follow in the second half targeting export to China," he said.
Code named BLM, the Saga was developed in a record 17 months, and is the second new Proton to be launched in the past six months following the Persona.
"The total approved budget for the BLM development was $AUD 171 million but the new car will come in well under budget at around $AUD 146 million saving us around $AUD 25million," Syed Zainel added.
In terms of overall size the new Saga is slightly shorter but wider and taller than the model it replaces with Proton achieving some critical space and efficiency gains with its conventional four-door sedan design.
The new car boasts more interior width and length than its predecessor, while there is significantly more headroom and legroom.
Importantly the new Saga's overall cabin space is significantly ahead of its major competitors on the Malaysian domestic market.
The new Saga is being offered in Malaysia in three different trim levels and with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic transmission.
The Saga boasts maximum power of 71kW at 6,000rpm and a maximum torque of 120Nm at 4,000rpm.
The car sits on front MacPherson struts and a torsion beam axle rear while braking is handled by front discs and rear drums, while the entry and base line models come with 13-inch steel wheels and 175/70 R13 tyres and the highest spec model uses alloy wheels and 185/60 R14 tyres..
Safety is a high priority for the new Saga with both SRS airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners being featured.
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