From some unknown sources, there has been some unconfirmed rumors that Volkswagen has identified which B-Segment car they want to use as the Proton Saga replacement. It is the Polo. Well, that could either spell good news for Proton buyers to get cheaper rebadged VWs, or VW owners crying foul. And before I forget, for those old enough, VW used to be in talks with Proton back in 2006, but talks broke down some time in 2007. But ever since the owners of Proton is DRB-Hicom, which is also Malaysia’s VW official franchise holder, things has definitely changed.
Anyhow, discussing this interesting topic are views from three writers of this blog:
In my opinion, I doubt VW would actually want to shoot themselves in the leg with a cheaper Proton-badged VW selling along their own VWs. So it could very well do without the TSI engine and famed DSG gearbox. Most likely it will use the 1.6cc engine with 5 speed manual and 6 speed auto box which was used for the Polo sedan in India and Russia. Which is not bad but pricing at RM70,000 at Persona/P3-21A category doesn’t make sense. It is like Wira, Waja and Gen 2 all together in C segment category, again.
Proton is a manufacturer with almost 30 years of experience in producing car shouldn’t look back and rebadging cars. Didn’t they learn the lesson from Proton Inspira? The Proton Inspira did not sell relatively well by Proton’ standards. Yes, rebadging cars is a method to save developing cost, but a RM70k VW hatchback from Proton? This is seriously hurting VW and proton’s reputation.
The new Saga might look like this, which isn’t bad.
No way we will get DSG, TSI technologies for the new Saga
I felt it is a mixed bag of view. This can be taken from the positive side and the negative side. Positively, this means we Malaysians have the chance of owning better quality cars with German built quality and VW is the best candidate for Proton’s controversial but improving quality issues. VW has transformed a few dying marques in Europe into successful ones like Skoda from Czech and Seat from Spain. As you can see, these brand shares the same platform and technology from their big brother from Germany. To prove if this works, now Skoda is a much admired brand in the UK. Great quality with VW technology and lower pricing makes Skoda favorable in the UK.
However, on the negative side, I think the “Skoda” plan for Proton may work better 5 years back when VW was wooing Proton from the Malaysian government to own Proton’s shares. However, when Proton says no so that they develop their own cars first, things are actually getting better for Proton. Self developed models like the Saga, Exora, Persona and the upcoming P3-21A saloon car has proven to be successful,despite not world class standards. Going back to become a Volkswagen rebadger feels like Proton is shooting themselves on the foot, yet again.
I do hope in future Proton models will be based on platforms developed by VW, as one example on the current Polo is using the same platform with Skoda’s Fabia and Audi A1 models. Although I highly doubt if VW allows Proton to rebadge the Polo for the upcoming Saga replacement, i doubt VW will allow their newer technologies like DSG, twin charging or TSI into it. It could be the most basic technologies given, such as the normal 1.6 NA engine with 5 speed manual or 6 speed auto box like the ones used on the existing Polo Vento sedan sold in India. Still it is a good enough for the Polo to be sold to Malaysians at cheaper price.
Understanding Proton’s reputation as a car rebadger during the Mitsubishi days, I more worried to see the current Polo to be rebadge and sold as Proton “Polo” for the next 20 years or so, with various unlimited special edition introduced when possibility the Polo by Volkswagen that time could have possible flew to the skies.
Furthermore, i believe our biggest concern is the pricing. If the price tag of below RM70,000 is true, in which is Persona league, will make what supposed to be an affordable Saga (max pricing is at RM50K) to become unafforable. Unless if you talking minimum wage has been raised to RM1,500 or fresh graduate rate is RM3,000, which is not right now.