2022 Proton Iriz facelift launched – new SUV-style Active, LED lights, revised interior, RM40k to RM54k

Proton’s worst-kept secret, the facelifted 2022 Iriz and Persona, has finally been launched today. The second such nip and tuck for the B-segment contenders is a far more thorough revision, adding some significant changes to the exterior, interior and mechanicals.

Here, we’re focusing on the Iriz hatchback, which is available in 1.3 Standard CVT, 1.6 Executive CVT and 1.6 Active CVT variants – the latter is a new addition for the lineup. Prices start from RM40,300 for the base Standard, rising up to RM47,100 for the Executive and topping out at RM54,000 for the Active.

The starting price appears to have gone up quite a bit more, with the Iriz previously starting from RM36,200. However, that figure was for the 1.3 Standard manual, which has been dropped. Compared to the outgoing models, the 1.3 Standard CVT is RM1,200 more expensive, while the 1.6 Executive CVT is RM1,100 costlier. The 1.6 Active CVT takes over from the old Premium and is pricier to the tune of RM4,100.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the 1.3 Executive CVT has also been discontinued. As usual, the prices are on-the-road without insurance, inclusive of the sales and services tax (SST) exemption, a five-year/150,000 km warranty, a five-year free data package at 1 GB a month (for the Active) and three times free labour for servicing.

On the outside, the Iriz shares the same front fascia as the Persona for the first time, so the full-width trim strip no longer plunges downward to wrap the Proton emblem, instead running along the top edge of the grille. Speaking of the emblem, the Iriz and Persona receive the latest round badge first seen on the locally-assembled X70 early last year.

While both cars share the same Infinite Weave grille this time around, a couple of differences remain. The strip at the top is finished in gloss black instead of chrome on the Persona, while the lower surround is painted red, mirroring the X50.

Lower down, the bumper has also been redesigned, with a broader lower grille and slimmer corner air intakes that house the LED daytime running light strips on the Executive and Active models. There’s also a grey front lip that adds a bit of aggressiveness to the look. The rear bumper and black tailgate garnish from the 2019 facelift has been retained, but the bumper strip is now red instead of the previous chrome.

The entire lineup also goes an inch up in wheel sizes – the Standard gets 15-inch alloys that look very similar to the multi-spoke items found on the outgoing Persona, while the Executive moves up to 16-inch rollers that sport a very handsome Y-spoke design, adding 10 mm to the ride height. Both get a full silver finish.

For 2021, the flagship Iriz now takes the form of the SUV-style Active, drawing its name from a concept shown back in 2014. The rugged makeover consists of black plastic cladding and silver skid plates on the front and rear bumpers and side skirts, with the lower grille also getting a silver surround and a sportier honeycomb mesh cover to match.

But the most striking features are the chunky fender extensions, replete with Satria GTi-style fake Allen bolt heads. The Active is also the only Iriz model to feature the new LED headlights (in a darkened finish compared to the Persona 1.6 Premium’s), while a black roof and silver roof rails complete the look.

The interior has seen arguably bigger changes, not least of which being the new freestanding head unit. This pushes the centre air vents downwards, now in a more conventional horizontal layout with the hazard light and door lock buttons in the middle.

On the Executive and Active variants, the infotainment touchscreen now measures eight inches across. While the two displays look very similar, they run on different systems, the Active being the only one with the Geely Key User Interface (GKUI) and an eSIM for online navigation, music streaming, WiFi connectivity and the “Hi Proton” voice control system.

The interface has seen a slight redesign for 2021, with users now being able to control the windows and air-conditioning with their voice; the controls for the latter have also been moved up to the display. Of course, you can still use the physical knobs down below, and the big change here is the move to a digital air-con system with new knobs, buttons and LCD display. No automatic climate control function here, but you do get an N95 cabin filter as standard, as before.

Further down, the central tunnel is all new, with a cleaner one-piece design and a silver strip running around its perimeter. It also now houses the switches for the front parking sensors, stability control and the new Eco mode (more on that later), along with no less than three cupholders in various sizes.

Those who have been complaining about the lack of an armrest have gotten their prayers answered with a full-sized soft-touch item that hides some storage space down below. The two USB ports for rear passengers have been moved to the back of this console, while up above are new LED map lights taken from the Saga.

The steering wheel airbag boss has also been redesigned, with a crease running across the lower half and the new Proton roundel. This is no half-hearted rebranding – the badge can also be found on the alloy wheel centre caps and the imprints on the windscreens and windows.

In terms of furnishings, the Iriz retains its black headlining and pillars (rather than the beige items of the Persona), as well as black fabric upholstery on the Standard model and faux leather on the Executive. The Active gets black part-leather seats with a circuit board-like pattern on the cloth portion, together with red stitching and the “Active” script embroidered on the seats and door cards.

Proton Iriz 1.6 Executive shown

Other bits that are exclusive to the Active are the alloy pedals and the red trim on the air vent surrounds, central tunnel, air-con and steering wheel controls and instrument cluster dial rings. You even get red seat belts, just like on a Mercedes-AMG model or a Honda Civic Type R.

As standard, the Iriz comes with a Bluetooth-enabled radio, the aforementioned digital air-con controls and two speakers, the front parking sensors now being exclusive to the 1.6 litre models. The X70-style leather-wrapped gearlever, previously exclusive to the Premium, is now fitted to all models.

The 1.6 Executive adds LED daytime running lights, a tailgate spoiler, keyless entry, push-button start, auto-folding door mirrors, auto headlights, a colour multi-info display, four speakers and a reverse camera. The Active model is the only one with LED headlights, a multifunction steering wheel and the eSIM with voice control functionality, plus all the equipment mentioned earlier.

Proton Iriz 1.6 Executive shown

Safety-wise, the Iriz has been improved somewhat, now available with at least four airbags (the Executive comes with curtain airbags as well, bumping up the count to six). However, the car still isn’t offered with autonomous emergency braking even on the Active, putting it a step behind the Perodua Myvi in this regard. Other bits of standard kit include stability control, hill start assist and rear ISOFIX child seat anchors.

Under the bonnet, the Iriz soldiers on with the same VVT four-cylinder engines as before. The 1.3 litre unit makes 95 PS at 5,750 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm while the 1.6 litre mill continues to serve out 109 PS at 5,750 rpm and 150 Nm at 4,000 rpm.

The big change here is the transmission. No, Proton hasn’t switched to the Saga‘s four-speed automatic gearbox as previously rumoured, sticking to the Punch CVT used since 2014. However, the stepless unit has received several changes over the years, most recently a thorough hardware refresh for the 2019 facelift.

We understand that this time, the engineers have focused on the software to improve drivability, although no details have been released just yet – we’ll know more once we speak to the R&D team. Notably, the Eco mode is now switchable and looks to no longer be just a light in the instrument cluster to indicate light-footed driving, but an actual drive mode with tangible settings changes for greater efficiency.

There’s also a new “S” position on the gearlever that replaces the previous “L”, hinting of a sport mode or perhaps even the return of the simulated stepped SAT mode. Last but not least, the five-speed manual that was offered on the base Iriz has been dropped, as mentioned earlier (too bad, purists).

So there you have it, the facelifted 2021 Proton Iriz. What do you think of the litany of upgrades of the latest model? Sound off in the comments after the jump. Oh, and in case you were wondering, some of the images you see below have been provided by Proton Regal Auto in Petaling Jaya. Excuse the quality of the photos – we’ll bring you full, professionally-shot images once lockdown measures have eased.

GALLERY: 2022 Proton Iriz 1.6 Executive facelift at showroom
GALLERY: 2022 Proton Iriz 1.6 Active facelift at showroom

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