20 February 2013

New Saga FLX SE Review – Exciting and Affordable Dream Sedan



If you like the Satria Neo, but commitments like a small family that requires you to have a sedan with four doors and a boot, then you definitely must take a look and a test drive in a Saga FLX SE.  Saga FLX SE is an exciting yet affordable dream car that will appeal to the young. It sports a 1.6 litre engine that delivers 108 horsepower and 150Nm of torque. Compared to the 1.3 litre Saga, this is a different kettle of fish altogether; the additional 14 horses and 30Nm of additional torque opens up a whole new world of performance should you want it. Otherwise, you can still get 6.7 litres of fuel consumption per 100 kilometres.




Put pedal to the metal, and you will hit 100 kph from zero in 12.0 seconds. Top speed is mooted at 165 kph, but a little bird in the motoring media told me that he hit 180 on the clock. Be that as it may, getting to top speed in a shorter time does make an impression – and when I was riding as a passenger while my super-fast media colleague was driving, I certainly had the impression that the Saga is a fast car (for its capacity) indeed. It is no German made super-turbo, but it also costs about a third of what you would have to pay for one of those machines – if you have a small budget, this is certainly the car to consider.
If you are familiar with the Proton brand, you may have also noted that all the cars launched by this maker in the last decade have been good at handling, what with the experience gained from Lotus Engineering, and the Saga FLX SE is no exception. I had good fun pushing the new Saga through a memorable 28 kilometres of high speed sweepers between Kuala Dungun and the Bukit Besi junction along the inner highway on the east coast.



Proton decided to mate the 1.6 litre engine to a CVT; at the product presentation, the design team were up there with us, and they stated that according to their test data, the CVT gives the best combination between power and fuel economy, hence the 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, based on a consistent 90 kph. Personally, I have no objections to the CVT, and it is a fact that they generally contribute to good fuel consumption, and I am sure that many of the buyers of this car will reap the benefits in the long run.



It is not that the Saga FLX SE is not fast enough, nor is it not exciting to drive – any small car with a larger than normal capacity engine would be good to drive, but I just feel that a manual gearbox, even a 5-speed would do wonders for the Saga. After all, the exterior, with the front, side and rear skirts, plus the rear tail spoiler, coupled with the smoked headlights and LED tail lights, also smoked; already give the Saga FLX SE the boy racer look. Maybe the people at Proton will consider what we motoring media (almost without exception) said, and come out with such a model.
The suspension is Macpherson struts in front, and the same torsion beam at the rear, although I suspect that at least the front struts and springs have been beefed up to cater for the additional weight of the engine; this I glean from the fact that the front suspension hardly dips even under heavy braking, and seems hard enough to go rallying without any modifications.


The brakes are ventilated discs in front, while drums are fitted at the rear. Although they do stop the Saga well, I would have preferred a set of discs at the rear, and perhaps slightly larger discs in front. ABS comes as standard equipment. Under an instance of panic braking, the brakes responded within the first half inch of brake pedal movement – and stayed there – a longer throw for the brake pedal would have been preferred, as this gives the driver more feel.


Inside, the upholstery is in black leather, with red stitching, and the gear lever and steering are similarly leather bound – again these add to the boy racer image. I think there is another model, similar, but without all the trim – for those who just want the engine capacity but don’t need the looks, at a lower price.
I felt the Saga FLX SE to be very good in acceleration. I drove fast, despite the fact that it had been raining heavily, and although it was just drizzling, the road surface was quite wet. Still, the Saga stuck to the road very well. Over a crest, with a long line of traffic led by two trucks approaching us, I encountered a textbook case of another truck on our lane, trying to take both slow trucks at one go – it was brake pedal to the metal – we skittered a little on the wet road, but the car held, and we slowed down to almost a complete stop to allow the truck to make it through – after that, I insisted we lower the pace.


I took the last leg, and this included the twenty eight kilometres of fast flowing curves mentioned earlier and by this time the road was dry – I had great fun with the car, even with the CVT. It was an enjoyable drive, bring back memories of my younger days when I had a similar sized car; it also came to my mind that this would be the perfect first car for a young man or lady who likes driving and how every young man would like to have one.
Overall, the Saga FLX SE is a huge improvement over the standard FLX – it definitely looks better, handles better on account of the bigger wheels, and is certainly more powerful – what the Saga FLX lacks, this car has it.
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