Malaysian automaker Proton having teamed up with Al-Haj Automotive is in process of introducing its range of vehicles in Pakistan. Proton’s plant that is being constructed in Karachi will be the company’s first factory in the South Asian region. Being built with an initial investment of US$30 million and a targeted capacity of 25,000 units a year, the plant is expected to commence operations by June 2020. Al-Haj has also recently acquired Greenfield investment status to assemble Proton cars in Pakistan.
The company aims to introduce various cars in Pakistani market including sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs and MPVs. Although few vehicles have already been spotted testing on our roads, let us see what possible options we can expect from Proton.
Proton will begin its operations in Pakistan with the launch of 1300cc Saga sedan. Local production of Saga is expected to begin from June 2020, while CBU units can be launched earlier.
Related: The Upcoming 1.3L Proton Saga Sedan
Saga will be powered by a 1.3 liter DOHC VVT engine that punches out 94 hp and a peak torque of 120 Nm. It will be available in both manual as well as automatic transmission option.
According to our information the Saga will ideally be priced around the top-spec Cultus VXL AGS, and in this sort of money can prove to be a good option considering the practicality of sedan.
Other than Saga, the Proton Exora has also been spotted testing on the roads. However official announcement regarding the launch of this vehicle is yet to be made, but considering the fact that people movers are being offered by almost every automaker in Pakistan lately, the possibility of Exora launch cannot be ruled out.
Exora is currently the longest running model in Proton’s lineup that was introduced back in 2009. During these years it received a couple of revisions and has most recently been updated with a facelift called as Exora RC. The 7-seat Exora MPV packs a 1.6 liter 125 hp engine under its hood and comes with manual as well as CVT transmission options.
The Iriz is a hot hatchback that has recently received a facelift, making it inline with the modern Proton family. The Iriz comes in two engine options– a 1.3 liter with 94 hp and 1.6 liter with 110 hp and comes mated to 5-speed manual and CVT gearbox.
Proton Iriz measures 3,905mm in length, 1,720mm in width and 1,550mm in height with a wheelbase of 2,555mm. This makes it longer, wider and taller than the 2nd gen Pak Suzuki Swift & has a longer wheelbase too.
Proton Persona is another subcompact sedan which recently received a facelift just like its sibling the Iriz hatchback. It measures 4,387mm in length, 1,722mm in width and 1,554mm in height with a wheelbase of 2,555mm which makes it longer, wider and slightly shorter in height than the 5th gen City we have here. Both Iriz and Persona share the exact same wheelbase.
Under the hood the Persona gets the same 1.6 liter engine that powers the Iriz with similar transmission options, however there is no 1.3 liter engine on offer.
The X70 is Proton’s first SUV ever, all thanks to Chinese automaker Geely which acquired a controlling stake in Proton back in 2017. At the time of takeover, Geely announced that the company is committed to supporting the transformation of Proton with its expertise, and aims to build Proton into the most competitive brand in Malaysia and a leading brand in Southeast Asia.
The X70 is basically a rebadged Geely Boyue with minor cosmetic changes. Ever since it was introduced in Malaysian market in December 2018, it has helped turn fortunes for the Malaysian brand. The X70 is continuing to set multiple records in Malaysian market and has played a pivotal role in getting Proton back on track as the second best selling car brand in Malaysia.
According to our information Proton intends to market the X70 SUV in Pakistan as well however it plans to begin its operations with the 1.3 liter Saga sedan as mentioned earlier. According to Proton Chairman Syed Faisal Albar:
“We need to position according to the tax structure incentives in each country. We are now focusing on Saga simply because Saga is below 1500cc, while the tax structure of 1600cc and above is different. We are studying (to introduce) other models also. We are also studying the consumer behavior in Pakistan.”
Measuring 4,519 mm long, 1,831 mm wide and 1,694 mm tall, having a wheelbase at 2,670 mm, the Proton X70 SUV is powered by a 1.8 liter TGDi turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 181 hp and 285 Nm of torque with 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmission options.
Features include, but not limited to 6 Airbags, ABS with EBS and BA, Auto headlights & wipers, keyless entry (with active touch sensors on the front door handles), push-start, 360-degree camera, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, climate control with smart air purifier system, electrically foldable wing mirrors, LED projector headlights with LED DRLs, LED fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels etc. There is also a voice recognition support system as well as a fully-digital and configurable instrument panel, which is a first for any Proton model.
Unlike the old Proton cars that landed in our country during the previous decade, modern Proton cars are quite better and more importantly this time they have partnered with a financially stronger group and have made a solid investment to assemble the vehicles locally.
If priced right, Proton cars may find success in our market however the recent economic situation is not showing some positive signs for the auto sector. We will have to wait to see what Proton cars other than the Saga are going to be introduced here, and at what price. Stay tuned to CarSpiritPK for more information.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com