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Car review: Proton Saga (2008 model)
Drove this during my recent holiday in Malaysia.
Well it's more an engine and automatic gearbox review. I think we'd all reject the Saga on looks alone; the car has a design (small saloon) which is intended to appeal to Malaysian taxi drivers in the home market. (But Proton do do other more attractive models, which may have the same parts.)
Anyway, it was a 1.3 litre four speed automatic, and I thought it was superb. Even with four adults and a boot full of luggage, there was no shortage of performance at anything up to motorway speeds. The key is the automatic gearbox. All other automatics I've ever driven would only change down to accelerate under extreme persuasion. The Proton did it almost whenever you tried to accelerate. Example: coming out of roadworks on motorway, bus gets out of way, to accelerate from 60 to 70, gently push accelerator a short distance, nowhere near flooring it, drops into third gear, rev-counter heads rapidly towards 4000rpm, two or three seconds, later with target speed achieved, it changes back into fourth.
All gear changes very fast and smooth. On other automatics I've driven a change in demand just as it's changing gear can catch them out and result in a jolt or clumsy gear change. It didn't happen once with the Proton.
I'm giving a lot of credit to the gearbox, but I'm wondering if the engine should get some as well. I know Lotus had some input into it. (Proton own Lotus now.) I'm not sure if the performance is partially due to the engine punching above it's weight, or totally due to the automatic gear box being willing to work the engine much harder than I used to when I drove 1.3 manuals in the past. (I'm thinking 1980's Mazda 323's, which I remember as very sluggish, and taking forever to get up to motorway speeds, even with only two people in the car.)
Last edited by IR35 Avoider; 15th July 2008 at 15:36.