Owner Review: 2018 Proton Iriz 1.3 CVT - Going a different route when everybody was getting a Myvi?

Owner Review · Aug 25, 2020 06:00 PM

** This article is the personal experience of a 2018 Proton Iriz 1.3 CVT owner and does not necessarily reflect the views of WapCar.

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It was two years ago when my mom decided to get herself a new car for daily commutes. She was looking for a hatchback and sedans were out of her list. Probably because she thought a sedan was too lengthy for her? In my opinion, a sedan gives you more boot space just in case you had lots of things to carry. She also wanted a new car too because she was afraid a used car would run her into a lot of workshop visits. If it weren’t due to all these criteria, I would have recommended many nice used cars to my mom. For RM40,000 back in 2018, one can acquire a used 2nd gen Toyota Vios. I test drove one at the beginning of this year, and boy oh boy did it feel like an absolute rocket. It easily had more power than my mom’s Proton Iriz but we will get there later. For RM40,000 one can acquire a used Myvi 1.5 Lagi Best too. I never drove a Myvi 1.5 Lagi Best before, but with a very light chassis, I believe it is one thrilling econobox.

So as of new cars, there are plenty of options to choose from given that my mom’s budget was around RM40,000. There were the Axia, Bezza and Saga. I asked my mom not to get an Axia for a few reasons. The Axia isn’t that safe of a car though it was safer than the Viva it replaced. Older versions of the Axia also had no ESC but I’m really glad the 2019 facelift saw the introduction of ESC and TC from the GXtra variant and above. The Bezza and Saga were out of the list for already mentioned reasons- my mom doesn’t want a sedan. So with all these options omitted, the only way is to up our budget a little. By doing so, we were now given two different choices- either a Myvi or Iriz. I didn’t choose the Myvi because at that time I was a huge fan of Proton and Proton’s renowned ride and handling was something I have always been craving for. I also know that the new Myvi’s body shell was weak in isolation, let alone compared to the Proton Iriz that has HPF steel. Hence without further ado, I got my mom to purchase a standard spec Proton Iriz with a CVT.

Hold up… a CVT when there is the manual variant for the standard spec?? Well my mom wanted a car for mundane daily commutes. She ain’t no car enthusiast so it was clear to see why she didn’t go for a manual.

Proton Iriz halogen headlights

The halogen headlights of the Proton Iriz are designed for Malaysians as it shines on our roads well. No need for LED conversions, which is an illegal move in Malaysia anyway.

We waited a long time for the Proton Iriz to arrive- one month and a half. Did Proton forget how to produce a standard spec Iriz given the scarcity of standard spec Irizes on the road? I will never know. A long wait it was but when the Iriz finally came, my mom and I were glad the car was well built. Even after two years, the interior still holds up fairly well. But there are a few things that could have been better.

One of the things that bothered me at least in our first year of ownership was the dullness of the interior. Yes there are some interesting Martini Racing stripes on the seats but then everywhere else you looked around, there is just that lack of chrome paint. To solve that, you just had to purchase the Executive spec model, which to be honest felt like a much more premium place. But paying more for the Executive only gives you the same engine and gearbox as the Standard spec. So I guess getting the Standard is a sensible move?

One thing I like though, is the European approach of where the indicator stalk is located. Of course, many Proton owners have been high-key hoping that Proton would one day decide to place the indicator stalk on the right side instead. But then, Mercedes-Benz and BMW also have their indicator stalk on the left, and I see nobody complaining.

Another thing that bothered me was that the standard spec Iriz only came with two speakers. Yo, the Myvi G spec has four speakers bro. The driver side window already has no auto up, and you even make the car more low spec by giving it just a pair of speakers? You’re selling a city car, not a commercial car OMG! But thank God the speakers were OK and the Blaupunk head unit came with Bluetooth. Or else I think we would have gotten an Axia SE, or an Axia Advance because those have Bluetooth and it is a hatchback.

The fabrics used for the seats are not bad. They may not be the smoothest but they do not feel low rent. In fact, the fabrics are comparable with those used in our W211 E-Class (review on that car is coming soon!). Being the cheapest spec of the Proton Iriz, the door trim didn’t come with any fabric inserts. Instead, your forearms are left with smooth hard plastics. Don’t expect soft-touch leather like your parents’ Proton Wira, because the entire cabin of the Iriz is surrounded with plastics. Fortunately, all your daily touch points are well taken care of, but there is the steering wheel. We will get to that later.

Anyone who used to own a Saga FLX would know that the aircon vents can be muted. Not with the Iriz though. Now that really is an indication that the Iriz is an econobox, due to the absence of certain features which we took for granted in more premium rides. But put those small issues aside, the air conditioning is typical Proton. Cooling during hot weather, perhaps a tad too cold at night. As for the steering wheel, the diameter is just nice, but I would suggest anyone with the same kind of car to have a Premium spec steering swapped in because the steering of the Standard spec Iriz is too plasticky for my liking. That disgust has further risen due to the presence of a W211 E-class in my household one year after getting the Iriz. It just feels so good getting to grab a leather steering.

In terms of interior practicality, you have enough cup holders to please cup holder enthusiasts, there are also enough of storage compartments to cater for Malaysians road users. Have a SmartTag? There is a pocket beside your right knee to store it. You don’t get such convenience with the E-Class. LOL. (No one in my family uses SmartTag anyway)

No one buys a hatchback hoping that it has good boot space. Well the Iriz knows itself really well because even if its boot opening is bigger than a sedan, boot space would never exceed any sedan ever. The Iriz has a boot which in my opinion isn’t small for a hatch, but cars like the Myvi and even the Axia have the potential to load bigger items.

From this picture it is clear that the Proton Iriz comes with a very typical 60:40 split folding rear seatback. Oh yea for the Standard spec you don’t get adjustable headrests for the back seats, but oh man do the rear seats feel more comfortable than those in the Myvi. It is ironic to the core that even with a new generation of the Myvi, they just could not improve on the comfort of the rear seats.    

Some people who get a compact city car actually have a family to ferry. When that comes in mind, one would expect a car to have enough of legroom to cater for that. I am 170cm tall, and after having the driver seat adjusted to my seating position, there is still some room for average Malaysian adults. Of course, the legroom of the Proton Iriz is way poorer than what you get in the Myvi, but then sometimes, in fact, most of the time, life is such that when you alter a factor, another factor gets affected as well. In the Proton Iriz’s case, legroom has been sacrificed for larger seats, and if you ask me, its generous seat support is one of the reasons why it has got what it takes for long distance travelling.

At 160km/h, the Proton Iriz is more stable than many larger cars. Ask any Iriz owner and even an Iriz 1.6 owner would tell you that the Iriz is not quick enough haha. The fastest my mom’s Iriz could go is 160km/h. A friend of mine managed to do 170km/h with his 1.3 Executive spec but then the engine has been electronically limited from revving higher than the limit the CVT can take. While that protects the CVT, it always makes me wonder what is the highest speed the chassis can take before the car starts shaking. I will never know. I guess even the 1.6 Iriz cannot tell me the true answer. Perhaps it is time I go to Pickles Auction and buy that Iriz with a 1.3 turbo that is being mated to a 6 speed manual?

Of course, there is no running away from the car’s high noise levels. First of all, there is the CVT that deafeningly whines at 160km/h so that actually makes you reach your destination slower if you wish to set yourself free from all that whine- drive no faster than 110km/h. I mean let’s be real. No one drives at 160km/h all the time, but the 2nd gen Vios I test drove, the engine and gearbox combo was way more muted in comparison when you do 160km/h and the 2nd gen Vios is so much older too. A 2012 car having a quieter powertrain and gearbox combo than a 2018 car is just madness. Why did Proton not go for a 4-speed auto when people with the prefacelift Iriz have been complaining about the CVT’s  jerkiness when you are moving from a standstill and its whine when you’re going too fast? The CVT whine also covers away the tyre noise the Silverstone rubber was making. Wind noise is also not that apparent thanks to the CVT. Very high tech huh? Like what Dr. Jason Leong used to say about his Wira’s noise cancellation technology, that is somewhat apparent on the Iriz Refinement too. Note the irony that my batch of Iriz was called the Iriz Refinement.

The 1.3 Campro VVT engine is smooth, and I like how it sounds because it has that muscular tone to it when you floor it. Did I mention that it is actually powerful enough? I was actually quite worried the 1.3 engine would be a let down because the Iriz is actually heavier than some B segment sedans with a 1.5 engine. But no. Have to climb a hill? Well just floor it. No need to off your A/C like in those Miata memes. In terms of fuel consumption, we averaged 14km/l. I know what you thinking. That sucks compared to a Perodua Myvi, but then if fuel efficiency is what you are seeking for, get a hybrid car. Sometimes I don’t understand what is with people wanting a naturally aspirated car to have crazy fuel efficiency.

Visibility is good if you’re willing to make the seat taller. When reversing, I find the C pillar to be a bit obstructive, but nontheless, the thickness of the C pillar is for the benefit of occupant’s safety.

In terms of handling, the Proton Iriz handles really well. Now, why do I say so?

  1. Minimal bodyroll
  2. Able to take corners at pretty high speeds
  3. Feels hefty when pushed hard

I always hoped the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in my household had the same character the Iriz has. All the soft touch materials and acceleration power of the E-Class has become irrelevant given that the handling is very confidence uninspiring in comparison to the Iriz. If you ask so far whether I have driven anything else that handles better, the answer is no. I’ve definitely had a go in quicker cars, but they just don’t have that golden trait the Iriz possesses. But when it handles so well, does that mean the ride is bad? No. The ride can be a bit firm but nothing too punishing. One thing I hope future Proton models still retain is the ride and handling, because no one knows if Proton would still create in-house designed cars in future, or would they just fully stick to rebadging whatever Geely has. If majority of Geely based models drive well, that is OK. But if Geely cars handled badly, then too bad for people who buy Proton cars for the handling. As this article was being written, the Proton X50 is yet to be launched. No one knows how it handles until someone takes it on a Genting run.

Most people deem the Iriz’s throttle response to be heavy compared to mainstream Japanese cars, but older German cars have it worst. Trust me, the throttle response of the Iriz is ok. I know you always have to step a little deeper to get the car going, but it is nothing as cumbersome as any old school Mercedes. The brakes are also good, not the best but at least they stop the car compared to the brakes of the Axia. The brakes of the Axia really does train you to be a great planner in life.

In terms of looks, the Proton Iriz Standard spec does look like a low spec car. The solid white paint further made its low specness more pronounced. Check the rear of the car out, and you notice that not only does the car have no spoiler, but it has no rear wiper as well! Proton, this car RM45k OK?? Even a RM35k Axia G spec has a rear wiper. The B pillars are unpainted too, so as the side mirrors and door handles. To me the Iriz standard spec should have gotten steel wheels because everything about already looked so low spec, why does it share the same wheels as the Iriz Executive?

Speaking of its wheels, friends of mine always had something to say about my stock Iriz wheels. When my mom just got the Iriz, I actually wanted to give it an Initial D look by giving it the Fujiwara Tofu Shop sticker, a blacked out hood and even wheels that are similar to those on Takumi’s AE86. But as time went on I had a different vision.

One of my goals is to keep the Iriz in stock form, at least visually. That is because now itself, finding a Standard spec Iriz is already quite difficult. What about 20 years down the road? You feel fascinated to see a Wira 1.3 around that is mint right? The same principle should apply to our Iriz.

In conclusion, I think the 2018 Proton Iriz is worth it for those with the budget of buying a new Axia but they just don’t want something that is lacking on safety and performance.

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