Proton Saga BLM release on January 18, 2008, Proton unveiled the successor to the 2007 Saga, which was planned to be phased out in June 2008. Retaining the Saga name, the new car is an indigenous design, designed to outperform and outengineer the old Saga compact sedan and aeroback in every way. Its bodywork is essentially based on a stretched Proton Savvy. The new model is an in-house design developed in collaboration with Korea's LG CNS and Lotus Engineering. This model enables the Malaysian company play to its strength in the home market i.e. three-box sedan. The Proton Saga is not planned for U.S. launch but will be sold throughout Southeast Asia, in China, India and Australia.
As of February 2008, approximately 23,000 customer bookings had been made for the car since its launch and the corresponding waiting time for delivery during that same period stretched up to 5 months.
On July 16, 2009, an electronic version of the Proton Saga was demonstrated at the University Sains Malaysia, Penang.
On November 30, 2010, Proton unveiled a mid-life facelift version of the Proton Saga at the Thai International Motor Expo 2010, featuring substantial changes to the exterior sheet metal.
The Saga comes in 3 different specifications with the choice of manual or auto transmissions starting from the base specced N model to the fully kitted M model. Aichi Kikai supplies the 5-speed manual while Mitsubishi makes the 4-speed automatic. The basic N model retails from RM31,500 to the RM39,800 high specced M model. The new Saga would be the cheapest Proton once the RM26,999 original is retired. Proton dubs the new Saga as "The People's Car".
Engine and performance
The new Saga is powered by the same 1.3-litre Campro engine (which was co-designed with Lotus) that is fitted to entry-level Gen-2s. Like other Proton models powered by Proton's own Campro engines, the 1.3-liter engine is rated at 94 hp (70 kW; 95 PS) at 6,000 rpm and 120 N·m (89 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm. The engines feature the new Integrated Air-Fuel Module (IAFM) which varies the airflow into the engine to improve efficiency, smoothening out the problematic dip in the torque curve in the lower and middle rev ranges. The ignition system has also been updated with coil-on-plugs instead of the traditional ignition cable system, eliminating power loss. Compared to the (non-IAFM) 1.3-litre in the Satria Neo, power delivery characteristics are remarkably different. Noticeable torque is produced after 2,500 rpm all the way to peak at 4,000 rpm. The acceleration to highway speeds is good. The 5-speed manual from Aichi Kikai is not geared towards the ultimate refinement at cruising speeds, but it does offer a good spread of torque everywhere, not to mention good overtaking power anywhere from 80-120 km/h. Suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar up front with a torsion beam in the rear. Its Lotus designed torsion beam suspension enables it to turn in sharply and hold its stance through corners without much understeering. Fuel economy is even better, approximately 6 L/100 km (47 mpg-imp; 39 mpg-US) for the manual transmission.
Besides the 1.3L engine option, the 1.6-liter Campro version is also available as an exclusive engine option for taxi operators. It also features IAFM and produces 114 hp (85 kW; 116 PS) at 6,500 rpm and 148 N·m (109 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm. Top-of-the-line versions (currently the M-Line) are fitted with a set of 14-inch rims and 185/65 R14 tyres for added traction, providing the car with strong braking force and better road holding. However, the car is not equipped with ABS.
Cabin and interior
The new Saga is bigger and has ample room for 5 Malaysian adults of average height. One airbag for the driver is fitted to the M-line models.However, the signal and wiper switch levers are located at opposite directions, just like BMW and Mercedes. The signal switch lever is located at the left hand side of the steering wheel where as the wiper lever switch is located at the right hand side of the steering wheel, a feature proudly derived from German cars 5x the price of a Saga, so the Malaysian Ah Beng Saga driver can brag to Mercedes-driving Ah Lian 'you know your Merc S-class got windscreen wiper on right hand side haw.. my car also got lah'. As the Saga is designed as a city car, the air conditioning system has been made even more powerful and efficient, even at engine idling speeds.
Like its predecessor, it is expected to be standard among Malaysian taxicab operators. The car is not designed to accommodate a compressed natural gas tank. A Malaysian Orange Taxi Company, Innovasi Timur Sdn Bhd installed a superior NGV System with a modified NGV Cylinder Bracket, giving larger boot space for luggage.
Since the official launch of the second generation Proton Saga in January 2008, the car has won 3 major automobile awards. The Malaysian edition of Autocar Asean magazine has awarded the new Saga "Winner of the Small Sedan/ Hatchback Category" for 2008. Shortly after that, the car was voted as the "Best People's Car" at the Asian Auto - VCA Auto Industry Award 2008. In November the same year, the new Saga won yet another major Malaysian automobile accolade when it was declared the "Winner of the Entry Level Car Category" under the New Straits Times/ Maybank Car of the Year Awards for 2008. On 13th May 2010, Frost & Sullivan awarded 'Best Passenger Model Car of the Year' for the Proton Saga for its excellence and reliability.