The subcompact sedan segment has recently had the addition of the Proton Saga, which looks fairly promising. However, the car has a lot of ground to cover before grabbing a lion’s share in the market, and standing in its way are two quite formidable contenders with footholds in the market — the Honda City and the Toyota Yaris.
The 5th generation Honda City has been in the Pakistani market for over a decade and has been sold in huge numbers over the years. However, its appeal has been fading because it is the same old car that is being sold at a huge premium without the new features that its competitors offer.
The Toyota Yaris was launched last year and has quickly cemented itself as one of the top sellers in the entire Pakistani car market for being a fresh addition after a long time, and quickly grabbed the attention of Pakistani buyers.
However, both these cars cost a fortune and are out of the reach of the majority of the buyers, but the newcomers that are relatively low-priced do not have enough recognition to be considered the top choices for the buyers just yet.
Let us put the old players side-by-side with the most recent entrant — the Proton Saga — to find out if it has what it takes to create a favorable place for itself in the market:
Despite being an old car, the fifth-generation Honda City looks decent owing to the sharp lines, an aggressive front facia, and Honda’s trademark hunkered-down stance that makes it look sporty with a sleek side profile.
While the front of the car looks sharp and aggressive, its rear is quite pedestrian in design. This is not to say that it is ugly. In fact, the similar sharp lines at the back, the slightly controversial pentagonal taillights, and a unique rear bumper design complement the overall silhouette of the car and add to its understated beauty.
The Toyota Yaris was debuted in Pakistan last year to a lukewarm reception that was mostly due to its asymmetrical design.
At the front, the Yaris has a rounded-off look that clashes slightly with the sharp highlight design which covers a rather large portion of the front. The tiny grille between the headlights, the huge bumper grille below, and the unconventional height of the hood make the front look slightly disproportionate.
The same characteristics can be observed on the side as the bulky side profile and small tyre size also seem to clash with each other.
The rear seems to have been designed by a different person altogether. Interestingly, the slightly longer and straightened-out tail of the vehicle along with the elongated taillights and the smooth lines makes the back look like a baby Corolla.
Additionally, the short and noisy front facia versus a smooth and rather subdued rear makes the overall design of the Yaris look unbalanced.
Although the Proton Saga is a bit of a plain jane in terms of design, it has certain cosmetic features like the sharp headlight design, alloy rims (ace trim level only), a modern front bumper, and a unique front grille in addition to mirror-mounted turn signals manage to jazz up the design a little bit.
Around the back are some more cosmetic features like decorative vents and a diffuser, modern-looking taillights, and a decklid spoiler that perk up its looks. In terms of the overall design and silhouette, the Proton Saga looks like a generation-old car, despite being new.
The ‘limited edition’ R3 variant is a special trim-level inspired by Proton’s ‘R3’ motorsports division to feature additional styling cues like the color black as the standard, complemented by the yellow vinyl stickers, a yellow R3 decal on the windshield, a front bumper extension, extended side-skirts and a few trim pieces that add oomph to the design.
The Honda City being sold in Pakistan has a reasonably well-laid-out interior regardless of the fact that it is two generations old. Although its dashboard has a clean look, the quality leaves a little to be desired as it is made entirely out of hard plastics.
The seats are lined with soft cotton fabric and the front ones provide for good posture and ample space. The rear seats also have a decent amount of legroom and headroom, although a person over 6 feet tall might struggle in the back during a long journey.
The interior of the Yaris is quite similar to that of the City in terms of general aesthetics. Although it is clean and nicely laid out, it is also largely composed of scratchy plastics. The silver trim pieces around the vents and the center control stack, and on the steering make the interior appear slightly more stylish.
The seats are also lined with a soft cotton fabric but their sitting position is slightly higher than that of the City. The cabin is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate either a young family of five (two adults and three children), or four adults, but people over six feet tall are likely to struggle in the backseat.
The interior of the Proton Saga is a major letdown. Despite having a fair amount of safety and tech equipment, the interior looks at least a couple of generations older, even when compared to the Honda City which is a decade-old car.
Plus, like the other two cars in this comparison, the interior of the Saga also seems to be made almost completely out of cheap, hard, and shiny plastic, which, despite being durable, does not do the Saga any favours.
In terms of room, the Saga is reported to have decent cabin space for either a family of five, or four fully-grown adults. The beltline is quite low, which means that the drivers and passengers get a clear view of the outside, and the cabin feels nice and airy.
Weight and Dimensions
Following are the proportions of all three cars:
|Measurements||Honda City||Toyota Yaris||Proton Saga|
|Wheel Base||2,550 mm||2,250 mm||2,465 mm|
|Overall Width||1,695 mm||1,730 mm||1,689 mm|
|Overall Length||4,395 mm||4,425 mm||4,331 mm|
|Overall Height||1,480 mm||1,475 mm||1,491 mm|
|Kerb Weight (Top Trim Level)||1,155 kg||1,100 kg||1,065 kg|
The 5th generation of the Honda City in Pakistan comes with a choice of two engines — one is a 1.3 litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 100 hp and 128 Nm of torque; and the other is a 1.5 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 120 hp and 145 Nm of torque. Both can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission, depending on the variant. Note that with both engine choices, the Honda City has the most power and torque in its segment.
The car’s suspension setup consists of a MacPherson Strut in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back. It is also has ventilated disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) technology in the front and conventional drum brakes in the back. However, almost all Honda City owners have reported the ride of the car to be unpleasantly stiff.
The 1.3 variants are known to provide a fuel average of 13 to 16 km/litre, while the 1.5 variants return about 10 to 14 km/litre.
The Yaris also comes with two engine options – the base 1.3 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 98 hp, and 123 Nm of torque, and a bigger 1.5 litre, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 106 hp, and 14o Nm of torque depending on the variant. Both engines can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed CVT automatic transmission
The car’s suspension setup consists of MacPherson Struts in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back. It is also has ventilated disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) technology in the front and conventional drum brakes in the back.
Although Toyota claims that both the powertrains return a fuel average of 14 to 16 km to the litre, the actual figures may differ.
The Saga can be had in three main trim levels — the Standard Manual, the Standard Auto, and the Ace Auto. All the variants will be offered with only one engine option — a 1299 cc, naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 94 hp and 120 Nm of torque. The engine will be paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission depending on the variant.
There will also be a ‘limited edition’ R3 variant which is a special trim-level inspired by Proton’s R3 motorsports division that will feature additional styling cues and a slightly larger 1332 cc engine which is offered as the standard in Malaysia. The engine makes the same power but slightly more low-end torque than the Pakistani 1299 cc engine. The R3 variants will also be offered with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic gearbox options.
The car’s suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts in the front and a Torsion Bar Coil-Spring suspension at the back, allowing for a soft and smooth ride. It also has ventilated disc brakes with an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) technology in the front and conventional drum brakes in the back.
The fuel economy of the Proton Saga is 12 km/liter to 16 km/liter as claimed by several international car reviewers, although figures may vary with respect to each driver in Pakistan.
Specs and Features
The following comparison is between the top variants to determine the complete range of features that they offer.
|Specs and Features||Honda City 1.5 Aspire A/T||Toyota Yaris 1.5 ATIV X CVT||Proton Saga 1.3 Ace A/T|
|Central Power Door Locks||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Immobilizer System and Burglar Alarm||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Daytime Running Lights||No||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced Gauge Cluster with a Digital Screen||No||Yes||Yes|
|12 Volt Socket||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outside Rear View Mirror Electric Folding||No||No||Yes|
|Steering Wheel Multimedia-Control Switches||No||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable Steering Wheel||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ISO Fix Child Seat Anchors||No||Yes||Yes|
This is where the Proton Saga cements itself as a credible threat to the Japanese competition. Following are the prices of all the trim-levels of the three cars:
- Honda City
- 1.3 i-VTEC M/T: Rs. 2,449,000
- 1.5 i-VTEC M/T: Rs. 2,529,000
- 1.3 i-VTEC Prosmatec: Rs. 2,639,000
- 1.5 i-VTEC Prosmatec: Rs. 2,699,000
- 1.5 Aspire M/T: Rs. 2,699,000
- 1.5 Aspire Prosmatec: Rs. 2,859,000
- Toyota Yaris
- 1.3 GLI M/T: Rs. 2,509,000
- 1.3 GLI CVT: Rs. 2,689,000
- 1.3 ATIV M/T: Rs. 2,619,000
- 1.3 ATIV CVT: Rs. 2,769,000
- 1.5 ATIV X M/T: Rs. 2,829,000
- 1.5 ATIV X CVT: Rs. 2,999,000
- Proton Saga
- 1.3 Standard Manual: Rs. 1,975,000
- 1.3 Standard Auto: Rs. 2,125,000
- 1.3 Ace Auto: Rs. 2,225,000
- 1.3 R3 Manual: Rs. 2,175,000
- 1.3 R3 Auto: Rs. 2,425,000
In the previous article, Proton Saga had been compared to the Changan Alsvin which is also a new player in the market. Although the Saga is a little bit cheaper than the Alsvin, and the Alsvin is a lot better looking than the Saga, both cars were not far apart in terms of value for money.
However, this comparison is different. Compared to the City, the Saga, seems to be a more sensible purchase decision because it offers more safety and convenience features for a lesser price. Plus, the City is a 10-year old car while the Saga is brand new for the Pakistani market.
On the other hand, the Yaris is also a fresh product and has features similar to those of the Saga, but is the most expensive car in the segment. The price difference between the two cars is immense, which is why it makes more sense for the buyers to opt for the cheaper and similarly equipped Proton Saga.
The B-segment cars are usually intended for a young family of 5 that can help them go about their day-to-day vehicular activities in relative comfort and economical fashion. Therefore, despite being slightly in the interior and exterior design sections, the Proton Saga fits the bill of a compact and relatively cheap everyday family hauler perfectly.