Lessons learnt from the re-calibration of the Proton Persona sedan's powertrain were applied here, resulting in the Iriz B-segment five-door hatchback providing smoother power delivery.
To recap, this refined Iriz also has a 3-point engine mount system, similar to the Proton Persona sedan, which reduces vibration transmission into the cabin, for better occupant comfort.
Proton has also packaged the Iriz well, as the car received the maximum 5-Star ASEAN NCAP (New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asian Countries) safety rating for all variants.
Recently, we test drove the top-range 1.6-litre Premium CVT Iriz which has a black roof for a two-tone colour exterior, and Smart Link feature for the infotainment system.
To recap, the Iriz Premium variant has a 107hp/150Nm 1.6-litre DOHC engine with VVT (variable valve timing), mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission).
It provided a pleasant drive, and power delivery was quite linear, with smooth and steady acceleration.
We noted that on the highway, the tachometer needle hovered around 2,100 to 2,200rpm when we drove at 80kph.
At 100kph, the tachometer needle was at 2,600 to 2,700rpm and at 110kph, we noted the needle hovered at the 3,000rpm mark.
We also found the powertrain to be a tad noisy under hard acceleration, but this did not detract much from the comfortable ride experience and enjoyable handling behaviour on winding roads.
Running on Goodyear Assurance tyres sized 185/55 R15, we found the Iriz Premium to be a smooth, pleasant drive on the highway especially at speeds below 100kph.
The electric power steering is light, and precise.
Regarding the interior, the mixed fabric/leather seats felt firm and solid, while the black plastic trim didn't look cheap.
There's no central storage box between the front seats; instead, you get the convenience of three molded recessed holes to store small items, two USB charging slots and a hand brake.
Another USB slot is found below the air conditioning switches, and the Iriz Premium has a solid infotainment system consisting of a touchscreen audio system with four speakers, Bluetooth and GPS navigation, DVD player, voice command and Smart E-Link.
Audio quality is crisp and high quality, with the audio switches on the steering wheel providing more convenience.
Press a button at the end of the right control stalk, and you get useful data like distance remaining before refuelling, time period and distance before the next scheduled service, trip meter, average speed and fuel consumption.
The reverse camera is a bonus when parking in tight spots.
There are also a engine start-stop button and keyless entry (via button on driver's door), and we must commend Proton for packing all these nice comfort features into the Iriz Premium.
Safety feature include six airbags, ABS (anti-lock brake system) and EBD (electronic brake force distribution), brake assist, ESC (electronic stability control), traction control, hill hold assist, ISOFIX child seat anchors and top tether.
It is priced at RM58,800 on-the-road, and has a 5-year or 150,000km (whichever comes first) warranty.
In summary, the Iriz Premium has improved driveability and represents great value for money.
Proton Iriz 1.6L (Premium)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve, VVT (variable valve timing)
Maximum power: 107hp at 5,750rpm
Maximum torque: 150Nm at 4,000rpm
Transmission: CVT (continuously variable transmission).
Features: Six airbags, ABS (anti-lock brake system) and EBD (electronic brake force distribution), brake assist, ESC (electronic stability control), traction control, hill hold assist, ISOFIX child seat anchors and top tether, reverse camera, engine start-stop button and keyless entry (via button on driver's door), touchscreen audio system with 4 speakers, Bluetooth and GPS navigation, DVD player, voice command and Smart E-Link, 3 USB charging slots, audio switches on steering wheel, remote trunk release, EPS (electric power steering)
Price: RM58,800 on-the-road, and 5-year or 150,000km (whichever comes first) warranty