Promised to meet world standards, Proton‘s latest bundle of joy has already been burdened with a rather heavy task on its shoulder in its home soil. Having to go against the nation’s favourite that is none other than the Perodua Myvi, the Iriz has to offer more than just good looks in order to usurp the crown from the ubiquitous Myvi.
This is not the first time Proton came up with a small hatch, but the Iriz has to be their first “most Malaysian” little hatch so far. We can recall when Proton flirted with the french in the 90’s resulting the Tiara that lasted in the market for only four years. The Savvy followed a few years after that also uses french mechanical under that tough TÜV-certified shell.
|Name||Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT|
|Engine||1,597cc 4-Cylinder VVT|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)|
|Max Power||107 hp @ 5,750 rpm|
|Max Torque||150 Nm @ 4,000 rpm|
Launched in September 2014, word on the grapevine that the Iriz will be getting a variety of powertrains such as diesel, hybrid, and even electric but currently it is offered with a pair of naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine options of either a 1.3-litre or a 1.6-litre.
Our review unit is the 1.6 CVT in the range-topping Premium guise, which is generously equipped inside and wearing a set of aggressive bodykit on the outside. Listed at RM 61,691, the Iriz appears to provide a value-for-money motoring, so we’re here to find out what the Iriz is all about.
Despite the mish-mash of design elements and sections that look like they were designed by at least four different design teams located in four different continents, the Iriz is an attractive looking car. Maybe because it’s still relatively new on the road or maybe because our test unit comes in the shade called “Fire Red”, the Iriz got most people’s attention everywhere we drove it.
At the front you will find the chrome Proton wings on the grille flanked by a pair of basic halogen headlamps. Below that is a gaping mouth with a single bar splitting the middle to accommodate the front number plate while a pair of LED DRLs brightens up the Iriz’s face, no pun intended.
The base of the A-pillar is located quite low, and the door-mounted side mirrors together with the big front quarter windows is said to aid visibility from behind the wheel. Slashes on the bottom of the doors follow the upswept shoulder line, adding some dynamism to the side of the Iriz. Having said that, against the tall body profile the 15-inch wheels wrapped in 195/55 R 15 rubbers do look a bit too dinky from some angle especially the rear ones.
The rear wheel arch bulges out creating a sporty stance and the back is a busy mix of confused lines and surfaces. The tail lamps feature an LED pattern that resembles a pair of angry eyes especially when lit in total darkness.
As mentioned, this Premium variant is dressed in a full 5-piece bodykit, which comprises of the two-tone front and side skirts, a roof spoiler with cat-like ears when viewed from the back, and a tacked-on “diffuser” on the rear bumper.
Shutlines are far from perfect and there are still inconsistency of the gaps between panels, and the pointy rear spoiler in particular seems to be shoddily fitted as it wobbles with the gentlest touch. Nevertheless the rear three quarter view is probably the Iriz’s best angle for this writer, I mean, have a look at the picture below and try to tell me it doesn’t look good.
Inside, you’re surrounded by a generic but pleasant looking cabin, as long as you don’t run your fingers or tap on any of the surface. The layered dash has that faux leather stitching effect like on the Jazz/City/Vios for a tiny bit of classy touch.
This Premium variant comes with leather upholstery, but the materials used still fall short of being a world standard product. For instance, the buttons on the leather-wrapped steering wheel could be better in terms of tactility and the indicator and wiper stalks behind it feel brittle in your hands. Furthermore, the HVAC knobs on the center console twirl with the precision of a low-rent toy.
Occupying the middle of the dashboard is the Android-based 6.2-inch touch screen head unit with GPS navigation. It supports DVD and Bluetooth connectivity with intuitive interface but operating the laggy touch screen can be frustrating sometimes (especially when you’re on the move) and the angle of the screen is often blinded by the sun.
Finding your desired driving position is easy, except for the awkwardly-placed seat reclining lever that has to be pushed backwards instead of the normal pull-up-to-recline in most cars. Most people will likely to pull up the lever on the side expecting the seatback to recline, but only to find out that the lever is for adjusting the seat base height.
Apart from those shortcomings, useful compartments can be found around the cabin, including dual cup holders on the center tunnel, door pockets that can accommodate a bottle each, and a well-sized glovebox. Next to the glovebox is a foldable tarpau hook, perfect for hanging your rojak and cendol bungkus. The dual USB charger is another neat feature, eliminating the need to use an aftermarket USB charger that plugs into the 12V slot.
There’s sufficient cabin space, even the rear passengers have enough leg and head room. ISOFIX mounts are available on the 60/40 split folding rear seat backs while the rear hatch opens to a rather narrow aperture but at least the cargo space is a reasonable 215 litres. All five occupants are furnished with a 3-point safety belts and there are a total of six airbags in this Premium variant.
Proton claims the 1,597 cc 4-cylinder mill with Variable Valve Timing is a new unit despite churning out similar output with the 1.6-litre Campro in the Saga. With 107 hp and 150 Nm of torque, the engine is mated to a CVT. This front-wheel drive hatch will get from 0 to 100 km/h in a leisurely 11.1 seconds, with a claimed top speed of 170 km/h.
The Iriz sets off very gentle from standstill, even when you floor the throttle you won’t get that immediate response apart from the 1.6-litre VVT unit emitting a soulless drone while waiting for the speed to catch up with the revs.
The CVT fitted to the Iriz has been updated from the previous installations on other Proton models, but I still find it clumsy and slow to react based on the throttle input given. For short bursts, slotting the lever from D to L do liven up things a little but exiting a junction and overtaking tasks will require you a thorough planning before committing.
However when it comes to handling, the Iriz shines. Blessed with a well-tuned chassis, the Iriz handles sweetly with taut body control. Given that our road conditions are far from perfect, the Iriz’s ride quality is impressive as its dampers soaks up road imperfections and bumps with aplomb.
Although the Iriz tend to bob around sometimes on long undulating highways, it feels stable even when traveling at beyond the national speed limit. Engine and wind noise is apparent but it’s fairly acceptable for a car in this category with such price.
When presented with corners, body roll is evident and grip level from the OEM tyres are lacking; but the electric power steering is sharp and weighs up appropriately as the speed increases, making it a hilarious fun car to be driven like an over-enthusiastic kid who just got his driving license.
We also had a go with the 1.3 Manual in Executive trim. While the 1.3’s power deficit over the 1.6 is quite glaring, the 5-speed manual transmission almost makes up for it. Similar to the 1.6 unit, the 1.3 needs a bootful of revs to get going and it will run out of breath quite easily.
At least with the manual box you get to be more involved in the process. The transmission itself is fine, the shift quality isn’t the best but the clutch’s biting point is easy to live with on a daily basis as it should be. The 1.3 mirrors the 1.6 in the handling department but you get less grip from the skinny 175/65 R14 tyres.
IS IT FOR YOU?
If your budget is around sub-60k the Iriz is worth considering. Nothing else rides better in this price range and build quality aside, the 1.6 CVT is easy to live with as a daily commute. Power is adequate to be driven around the city but outstation drives with full passengers on board might be a struggle.
However if you don’t mind taking the task of shifting the gears yourself, you can opt for the 1.6 Manual and we reckon that’s the better car when it comes to delivering driving enjoyment.
At this price bracket you don’t have much option therefore the Iriz 1.6 CVT Premium‘s natural opponent is indeed the Perodua Myvi 1.5 Advance. The Myvi undercuts the Iriz by around RM 4,000 but each has its own pros and cons so opting for either doesn’t really mean it’s the better car.
Being the top variant both are generously equipped inside and outside. A few things they have in common include the exterior bodykit, leather upholstery, and multimedia entertainment system with GPS navigation and reverse camera; but in terms of safety the Iriz is better equipped with six airbags compared to just two in the Myvi.
The Myvi uses a smaller 1.5-litre engine with 102 hp and 136 Nm versus 107 hp and 150 Nm from the 1.6-litre engine in the Iriz. Even though the Myvi has less power it feels quicker and the 4-speed automatic transmission may be antediluvian, but at least it doesn’t have the dreaded CVT rubberband effect.
The Iriz belies its cheap build quality by providing a solid ride and handling with precise steering while the Myvi is the other way round; it’s not as composed as its well-constructed cabin and exterior (compared to the Iriz).
|Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT||Perodua Myvi Advance|
|Type||4-cylinder VVT||4-cylinder DVVT|
|Type||Electrical power-assisted||Electrical power-assisted|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)||4-speed Automatic|
|Type (Front / Rear)||MacPherson struts / Torsion beam||MacPherson struts / Torsion beam|
|Front||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc|
|TYRE & WHEELS|
|Tyres||195/55 R15||175/65 R14|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS|
|Max Kerb weight||kg||1,185||980|
|Luggage Capacity (VDA)||L||215||208|
|Consumption||7.4 L/100 km||6.5 L/100 km|
|0 – 100km/h||sec||11.1||N/A|
WILL I BUY IT?
I have to admit I didn’t set any high expectation before taking the Iriz but I was left amazed by it upon returning the cheeky little hatch. In spite of that the Iriz still doesn’t cut the mustard for yours truly. There are some areas where the Iriz felt rough round the edges, and that’s quite literally as well.
Other than that, Proton has done a tremendous job in developing the Iriz to be a world class contender especially with its great handling and class-leading safety equipment, all rolled into an attractive and affordable package. There’s still a long way to go for Proton, but here’s wishing that they continue a steady momentum to churn out better cars to carry the brand that every Malaysians can be proud of.