Seven long years. That’s how long the Proton Iriz has been on sale in Malaysia. Over the years, the little Proton Iriz gained numerous improvements and upgrades along the way, including a restyled exterior.
Seeing that its core rival, the Perodua Myvi, is slated for a facelift later this year, what does Proton need to address in the Iriz in order to keep it competitive against the Myvi?
Let’s dig in.
The CVT is nasty
Let's address the elephant in the room, or in this case, the Achilles' heel of the Proton Iriz - its Punch-sourced CVT-type automatic transmission.
Unlike other CVTs, the Iriz’s CVT is jerky in stop-go traffic and it is also noisy and unrefined – very uncharacteristic for a CVT.
Not just that, as there is a mild delay in power delivery, resulting in less-than-ideal in-gear acceleration. Did we also mention that the Iriz's fuel consumption is average at best?
To remedy this, it would be great if Proton dropped the Punch-sourced CVT altogether and replace it with the tried-and-tested Hyundai-sourced four-speed torque converter unit found in the refreshed Proton Saga.
Why no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay?
The Proton Iriz received a number of head units over the years, but never once did it receive support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Instead, for whatever reason, Proton felt that a voice command system would be more appropriate, thus fitting upper variants of the Iriz with such a system.
Not only does the Iriz get a Joox music player, it also gets navigation by Baidu – both of which are incomparable to Spotify / Apple Music and Google Maps / Waze. Don't get us started on the "Hi Proton" voice command and its "Coming!" response.
You could argue that the infotainment system allows you to mirror your phone, but that has its own drawbacks, seeing that you have to keep your phone’s display on all the time and it has to be in the right orientation.
The Iriz definitely needs some ADAS features
When the Proton Iriz was launched in 2014, it boasted some impressive safety kit, encompassing features never-before-seen on a Malaysian hatchback, like six airbags and stability control.
But that was before the third-generation D20N Perodua Myvi arrived. It introduced features such as Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on an affordable hatchback, which upped the game significantly.
If Proton wants to one-up the Myvi, the updated Iriz should come with some form of ADAS feature. Currently, none of Proton’s homegrown models offer ADAS features; only Geely-based models have it.
Shine bright with LED headlights
In addition to the aforementioned ADAS suite, the Perodua Myvi also introduced LED headlights across the range. Impressive, considering that, historically, the Myvi was never at the forefront of introducing new features.
As for the Iriz, well, Proton removed the older model’s projector headlights and replaced it with somewhat inferior halogen reflector units. Whilst the cheaper reflector headlights do the job well, there’s no denying that LED headlights offer more wow factor.
Question is, will Proton offer LED headlights on the Iriz? And if they do, will it be offered across the range like the Myvi?
The Proton Iriz is a genuinely good little hatchback from Proton, albeit marred by its CVT-type automatic, poor infotainment system, and lack of modern-day gadgetry.
Having sampled a number of different Iriz variants over the years (from the Executive 1.3 Manual all the way to the Premium 1.6 Manual), I’ve came to appreciate its superior ride and handling compared to the Myvi. That, and its seats are definitely better than the Myvi.
Considering that the Myvi has upped the local B-hatchback game, Proton just needs to take a leaf out of Perodua’s books in order to improve the Iriz’s shortcomings.