Proton Iriz has finally been launched here in Malaysia after 4 years of R&D and an investment of RM560 million. Proton have big plans for the Iriz as it has been tasked to go up against the Perodua Myvi as well as the Japanese competitors.

 

Well, it’s finally here. The highly anticipated global small car better known as the Proton Compact Car, which has been under extensive development for years and cost Proton a small fortune, has finally been launched here at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant. The PCC, which now goes by its official model designation – Iriz (named after the flower), is Proton’s B-segment competitor for the global market.

As reported earlier, the Iriz measures 3920mm long, 1722mm wide and 1554mm high, making it a little bigger and taller than the Perodua Myvi. The vehicle is being offered in three different variants, namely, Standard, Executive and Premium. There is a choice of two engines, a new 1.6-litre VVT (Executive and Premium only) engine and a 1.3-litre VVT one (Standard and Executive only).

Both powerplants can be had with a choice of either the company’s CVT transmission or the tried and tested five-speed manual gearbox. The Iriz with the 1.6-litre engine is said to offer 107bhp and 150Nm of torque while the 1.3-litre power plant can deliver 94bhp and 120Nm of torque.

Though all three variants look fairly similar from a distance, up close and with severe scrutiny, is when the disparities between the three variants become apparent. The base car or the 1.3L Standard (starting from RM42,438.00), eschews a lot of the features that make the premium model a real looker. It has to do without the aero kit, various chrome trim pieces, extra USB charging ports, touchscreen infotainment system as well as the fancy wheels. It’s a a no nonsense compact car for those wanting a back to basics runabout. It only has 2 airbags, no remote tailgate release, and only 2 speakers, which is going to be a major deal breaker for the audiophiles.

Moving up a level to the Executive variant (available for 1.3L and 1.6L variants), things get a little more ‘upmarket’ and as a result, more interesting. The Executive model is lavished with better stuff all-round. First off, it costs RM46,438.00 for the 1.3-litre car and RM53,438.00 for the 1.6-litre one. For that you get a 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system (not applicable to 1.3L Executive), front fog lamps, rear view camera (not applicable to 1.3L Executive) and so on.

The differences between the Executive and Premium variants of the 1.6-litre car are subtle at best. Both get the touchscreen infotaimnet system, 4 speakers, , 4G In-Car WiFi and so on. What the Executive variant has to do without however, is auto headlamps, Auto Fold mirrors, Daytime Running Lights, Anti-trap power window (driver side only), 6 airbags, as well as leather seats and door trim inserts.

What is most interesting about the Iriz is, what’s available across the board. All variants get Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill-Hold Assit, as well as the seat belt warning buzzer and indicator just to name a few.

Here are the offical prices for Proton’s new pride and joy:

The rationale behind the name Iriz is fairly simple and conflicts with what was said initially. It comes from the word ‘iris’, a structure of the eye that controls the dilation of the pupil thereby, controlling the amount of light allowed to reach the retina. Proton believes that this car behaves just like an Iris in that, “it signifies forward looking, thus, setting the standards of safety to Malaysians”. The letter ‘s’ was replaced with ‘z’ as it’s the last letter of the alphabet and it represents the positioning of every element in the right place and order, from A to Z, showcasing form following function – a completion of their ambitious project.

Proton enlisted the skill and knowledge of their entire workforce of engineers, designers as well as those from other disciplines to come together and create the best Proton has to offer. The Iriz is said to be 100 per cent Malaysian, meaning the car is built completely in-house at the firm’s Tanjung Malim plant, which also acts as the distribution centre of Iriz cars for the country.

The project took the company about four years to complete, from inception to completion and required an investment of RM560 million. According to Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of Proton, the project took as long as it did because Proton wanted to get things right. It knew that, to have an appealing product in the highly competitive car market we have today, it had to come up with a car that could truly be considered world beating.

Officiating the launch of the Iriz was former Malaysian Primer Minister and current chairman of Proton, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In his speech, he stated that Proton has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1980s and that the Iriz is the culmination of the collective hard work and dedication of the Proton workforce to deliver a truly Malaysian car that is able to stand up to global standards.

The Iriz is touted as the most advanced and well-built car to come out of Proton, and the company is adamant that they now have a truly Malaysian car that can stand shoulder to shoulder with global marques. Through extensive research and development and the use of the Hot Press Forming (HPF) structure, Proton was able to create a car of world standards in terms of safety. ASEAN NCAP has awarded the Iriz 5 stars, the highest rating possible, blitzing the Perodua Axia’s more modest 4 stars. In a head-on impact as seen during the crash tests, the cabin and A-pillars remain relatively intact, which in a real crash, is vital to the survival of occupants.

A feature called Impact Sensing Door Lock, is a system that, in the event of a collision, senses what’s happening and automatically unlocks the doors for quick and easy exit of the vehicle. It’s also good to know that when it came time to reducing the number of features for the less pricey cars, the company didn’t stint on safety equipment. Regardless of which car you choose, the Iriz comes with a plethora of driver aids including Vehicle Dynamic Control and Electronic Stability Control, computer systems that keep the car pointing in the right direction during sudden change of direction and when dealing with tricky road surfaces.

If you truly want to experience the Iriz at its full potential, the 1.6-litre Premium variant is the one you want as other variants including the 1.6-litre Executive car have to forgo a considerable a number of ‘high end’ features for rather basic ones. This includes push start ignition, a simple feature, but is one you will have to live without should you opt for anything other than the Premium variant.

The Premium variant also gets six airbags but the others have to make do with only dual front airbags, which isn’t a major deal breaker but will certainly disappoint those wanting maximum safety without needing to shell out more than RM60,000.00 on a car.

That said, the Iriz in it’s basic form is still a spacious B-segment car that has the same safety rating as the Premium variant and the same number of driver aids but will cost significantly less. The Proton Iriz is available in seven different body colours, Citrus Green, Silver Moon Dust, Atlantic Blue, Fire Red, Gnetic Silver, Solid White, and Tranquility Black. As of now, the Iriz is available on order at any Proton showroom nationwide. Should you need further details regarding the car or other Proton vehicles in general, visit the company’s website at www.proton-edar.com.my.

[Naveen Victor]

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