Proton, a Malaysian automaker that has partnered with Al-Haj, the Pakistani manufacturer of FAW cars, will unveil the Saga, a 1300cc sedan with the lowest price tag in the segment, on April 4th.
The car will be offered in three separate versions: regular manual, standard automatic, and luxury automatic. It is a sedan in the b-category, identical to the Honda City, Toyota Yaris, and Changan Alsvin.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the simple manual edition of the car will be unveiled for less than Rs2 million, making it Pakistan’s cheapest sedan. The top variant’s price could reach Rs2.4 million.
“My source in the company said that it will launch the car at a price comparable to that of the Suzuki Cultus,” said auto expert Usman Ansari, who runs a blogging website carspirit.pk. “Cultus’ different variants are priced in between Rs1.7 million and Rs2.1 million.
He went on to say that if the car is priced under Rs2 million, it would perform better, but if the lowest model starts at Rs2.1 million, the same as the Cultus top variant, it would fail to compete.
Changan’s Alsvin is currently offering Pakistan’s cheapest new sedan, with the lowest manual model costing Rs2.2 million.
However, before the latest car reached Pakistani highways, the firm raised the prices of its two higher models by Rs50,000 and Rs100,000. Following the price rise, the automatic version is now available for Rs2.45 million and the premium automatic Lumiere is now available for Rs2.65 million.
Ansari, who had test driven the Malaysia-imported CBU (completely designed unit) at an auto show, was underwhelmed by the vehicle, especially because of its heavy steering.
In December of last year, the firm also debuted the X70, an SUV crossover. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad provided Prime Minister Imran Khan with the X70 as a gift in December 2019.
Under the Auto Production Strategy 2016-21, the Proton has been classified as a greenfield vehicle. New companies like Proton, Kia, Hyundai, MG Motors, Sazgar, and Changan would pay lower duty rates than established companies like Toyota, Honda, and Suzuki.
The ADP 2016-21 programme expires in June 2021, and new models launched by new firms, defined as market newcomers, will be considered for duty reductions for the whole five-year period. After the ADP expires, the entrants will introduce a new vehicle, so the longer they do so, the narrower the window for service relaxation. However, the government is yet to give detail about this.