Proton has listened to the feedback and criticism, and in response, has possibly delivered a game-changing car not just for Malaysians, but also with the international market in mind.
With close to 30,000 initial bookings and counting, Malaysians have taken quickly to the Iriz’s potential - and I can see why.
My first impression of the Iriz is that the car looked like a re-imagined version of the Perodua Myvi.
In my opinion, Proton has a car that stacks up competitively against its highly favourable Perodua counterpart, both aesthetically and technically.
The Iriz, as I found after spending two days with the 1.6L premium variant in Penang recently, packs quite a punch in terms of power and handling.
Its 1.6-litre engine comes with a maximum power of 107bhp and torque of 150Nm.
The Iriz has essentially been designed with driving pleasure and comfort in mind, everything from the seats to the interior.
In that regard, the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is a minor obstacle to comfort.
The CVT still causes the engine to revv unnecessarily to higher speeds, thus making the engine noisier.
This also causes the acceleration of the car to be restrained and requires me to step more on the accelerator pedal.
It gives me the feeling that the car is underpowered but that is not really the case.
The CVT issue is a recurring one across Proton’s range of models - I’ve encountered similar issues with my 1.6L Saga FLX.
It is something that the national carmaker must look to rectify as soon as possible if they are to fully leverage on the other technologies that went into this car.
The Iriz is able to navigate sharp bends and winding roads competently.
This is in large part thanks to the advanced electric power steering system (EPS) installed on the Iriz, which makes a long journey far less tiring.
Two things that make the Iriz a value-for-money buy are its safety and convenience features, which Proton clearly did not stinge on.
All variants come with dual airbags (six airbags for the premium model), traction control, anti-lock braking system and brake assist for emergency braking.
The Hill-hold Assist is useful while stopped on slopes as it allows you sufficient time to move your foot from the brake to the accelerator without causing the car to slide backwards or onwards.
The Iriz is well prepared in the event of an accident, as it is equipped with an impact sensor that automatically unlocks all doors in the event of an emergency, while the head restraints provide added protection against whiplash injury if the car is hit from behind.
What impressed me was the Iriz’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a feature that is usually found in luxury cars, which allows the driver to make sudden lane changes safely during emergencies.
To make its point, Proton even invited members of the press to perform an emergency lane change demonstration of the Iriz and a competitor.
The outcome. . . the Iriz fared a little better.
These features and more justifies the Iriz’s 5-star Asean NCAP safety rating, which impressively enough, was obtained before the car was officially rolled out.
The sporty looking interior and 3D-stitched textured instrument panel give the Iriz a measure of youthfulness, and in a sense, emulates the kind of vibe you get from the sportier Myvi SE variant.
The Android-powered infotainment system, which is available in the 1.6L variants, also gives added value to the driving experience, even if many would view it as more of a luxury accessory than a necessity.
The built-in GPS and bluetooth connectivity is particularly useful I find, as well as USB ports to access media files and charge your mobile devices.
The Iriz has ample space to fit a family of five. Its trunk is also similar in capacity to most hatchbacks of its class.
One thing that bugged me about the car was that you get a significant volume of outside noise when driving at high speeds on the highway.
I’ve experienced a similar issue with the Saga and Myvi, which is why I was hoping that the Iriz would come installed with windows that were more soundproof.
However, if you enjoy blasting the stereo like I do, then it should be no problem.
Those who are worried about the hike in fuel prices will be happy to know that the Iriz is rather fuel efficient.
A drive of 100km from the Proton headquarters in Shah Alam to the Gopeng rest area only used up 7.5 litres of fuel.
The fuel consumption is displayed on the car’s digital instrument panel and makes for easy reference.
All in all, the Iriz looks like a promising attempt by Proton to regain its market dominance and brand desirability.
It could be the national carmaker’s ‘diamond in the rough’ if its long-term reliability holds out.
The Iriz Premium comes with an on-the-road with insurance price of RM61,743.
Available colours are Citrus Green, Silver Moon Dust, Atlantic Blue, Fire Red, Genetic Silver, Solid White, and Tranquility Black. - AKIL YUNUS