Review: 2022 Proton Iriz Active – more tech, but has the CVT improved enough?
Shaun · Sep 25, 2021 06:00 PM
What do you look for in a daily runabout? I would hazard a guess and say – fuel efficiency, space, and low maintenance cost. With those criteria, it’s little wonder that the Perodua Myvi tops the sales chart year after year.
Proton’s attempt to steal the thunder was, and perhaps still is, with the Iriz. Evidently, that didn’t go as well as Proton had hoped, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Proton Iriz. The biggest bugbear personally is the CVT despite the continuous updates.
Has the 2022 Proton Iriz facelift finally ironed out all the kinks? Well, I’d say nearly, and we shall get into that in a moment.
Exterior - Cladding galore
The Iriz we have here is the range-topping Active variant, with crossover styling elements such as the black cladding along the sides of the car and roof rails. General feedback on its exterior has been rather negative, most of it aimed at the cladding.
Personally, I’m inclined to agree. The lower rung Executive variant does without the cladding and I find that it looks cleaner.
Headlights are now LEDs on this range-topper, though halogen position lamp triggers my OCD with its disparity in colour temperature. Swapping it out for LED units might be the first thing on my to-do list if I were to get the Iriz Active.
The bow-shaped chrome piece on the front grille is no more, it now gets gloss black treatment along with the roof and rear spoiler. I find that these are the more agreeable visual updates but then again, it’s entirely subjective.
Wheels are 16-inch items now, wrapped with 185/55 profile rubbers, which makes it literally an inch larger than before with 15-inch wheels on the same width and profile tyres. It partly explains the increase in overall height, the other part being the roof rails.
Interior - Welcome revisions
Inside is where it gets even more interesting. The redesigned dashboard sees a floating-style infotainment display and there’s also a completely new centre console with an armrest.
Let’s talk a bit about the star of the show here – the new 8-inch touchscreen unit. And I’ll just cut to the chase, it’s been rather underwhelming. Boot up time takes longer than I would appreciate, the screen itself isn’t bright enough during the day, and the operation is a little clunky.
The Proton Saga’s infotainment system feels more fluid to use and interact with (yes, I’ve tried them both back-to-back). The voice command feature mishears instructions half of the time and the situation ends up looking like an elderly couple having an argument.
Having said that, these are quirks that can be rectified via software updates and I trust that Proton and ACO Tech will continue refining the software.
The new digital control unit for the air-conditioning is as straightforward as it gets to use, and there’s a slot beneath it that is decently sized for most modern smartphones. Though your phone wouldn't fit if it's charging as the cable would be obstructing.
Now onto the build and material quality. Material quality is commendable for its price point, better than the Perodua Myvi with less sharp edges around the plastics. Build quality is said to be improved but to be frank, there were buzzing noises coming from the touchscreen on our test car.
We had the 2022 Proton Persona at the same time as well and it too suffered from similar noises. Generally, we refrain from commenting on such a matter as it could be an isolated case, but having two cars with very similar noises make it compelling to point out.
Elsewhere in the cabin, it’s pretty much identical to before. Space wise, there’s two tennis balls of kneeroom and one tennis ball of headroom for a 175 cm tall individual. Not as spacious as a Myvi, but it’s adequate.
Driving Experience - Third update's the charm
Having driven all iterations of the Proton Iriz since it first launched, I’ve experienced the progress of refinement. In its early years, the Iriz felt rough around the edges; the transmission was an example of a poorly executed CVT and the cabin can get quite boomy at times from the vibration and resonances.
The 2017 update improved the refinement and transmission calibration, which made the car quieter and the CVT more responsive. However, it was still inconsistent in stop and go situations, lurching forwards at times at crawling speeds.
The 2019 facelift made the Iriz even more responsive, but the transmission is still a let-down in traffic. It lacked consistency; at times it would lurch forward at a gentle prod of the throttle, and other times it can engage smoothly.
In this 2022 Proton Iriz, I am pleased to report that the CVT is now acceptable in traffic. It creeps forward naturally when the brake pedal is released and gently accelerates as throttle is applied.
If you were to jab the throttle pedal and be unsmooth in general, it would still give that characteristic lurch. It’s just how a clutch-based CVT behaves and no amount of calibration can change that.
But it is now consistent enough and at a point that I find to be unintrusive in daily driving. And I don’t think the CVT should be held against the Iriz anymore.
The CVT gets two additional features – Neutral Idle Control that disconnects the clutch at idle to reduce strain on the transmission, and Eco Mode with clutch disengagement during coasting at under 70 km/h.
The calibration work has also somewhat dialled down the enthusiasm; it’s no longer as eager to rev as the 2019 model and has a more matured response. Selecting the stepped ratio mode will bring the eagerness back.
Apart from the transmission calibration, the Iriz drives as well it always have been. Steering is well-weighted and feels natural. Suspension is pliant and yet maintains a good level of body control. It does feel a little heavy around bends, but the communicative chassis means you’ll know what’s happening at all times.
Ride Comfort - Suspension tuning at its finest
There’s no two ways about it, the suspension is brilliant. It is the example of how to strike the perfect balance between comfort and handling. The Proton Ride and Handling has had its fair share of praises and all of them are completely warranted.
Whether it’s at low or high speed, the Iriz just flows on any type of road. Sharp edges are nicely rounded off so it never gets crashy, and it settles quickly over larger undulations. The Perodua Myvi can only dream of having such well-sorted suspension.
Seats are comfortable as well, with decent thigh and side support. This has been the case since the 2017 update.
In terms of cabin noise levels, it’s reasonably quiet at its price point. Powertrain noise is apparent when pushed hard, but fades to the background at a cruise. Tyre noise is audible without being intrusive. Though wind noise gets quite noticeable at triple-digit speeds.
2022 Proton Iriz cabin noise
Fuel Consumption - An improvement from before
Two fuel consumption tests were conducted with the first returning 7.4-litre/100 km from a 101.8 km trip and refuelling 7.57 litres.
The second test returned 8.8-litre/100 km from a 115.1 km trip which required 10.11 litres to brim the fuel tank.
This gives us an average calculated fuel consumption of 8.1-litre/100 km. The 2019 Proton Iriz returned 8.4-litre/100 km, which means the 2022 Proton Iriz has indeed improved its fuel efficiency as Proton claims.
The 2022 Proton Iriz is the most refined it has ever been. While the tech upgrades appeared promising at first, it fell short in execution, though it can be improved over time with updates.
The CVT is now consistent enough to be unintrusive in daily driving and the changes also made the Iriz more fuel efficient.
However, the Proton Iriz is still not as efficient nor as spacious as the Perodua Myvi. On paper, the Myvi trumps, especially with the inclusion of ADAS. But we don’t drive paper and if you enjoy driving, the Proton Iriz might just win you over on a test drive.
Would I pick the Iriz over the Myvi? Despite its flaws, yes. Like I said, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Iriz and now that the CVT is tolerable, I’d go for the Iriz. Not the Active variant though, the cheaper Executive variant is where it’s at.
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.