THE burgeoning light-car segment has yet another new entry in the shape of the Proton Satria Neo, a surprisingly agile and well-mannered three-door hatch in a sharp suit.
Lotus looked after the dynamics, but the Malaysians have overseen everything else with a renewed sense of purpose, as Proton strives to rise above being just a value brand.
This new car isn’t cheap, and there are still some areas that need addressing, but the second Satria should not be dismissed.
Model release dates: February 2007 - August 2012
PROTON’S bestseller in its dozen years in Australia was a rehashed version of the 1992 to 1996 Mitsubishi CC Lancer-based Mirage that was never sold here.
Pleasantly styled, the front-wheel drive three-door Satria was offered in several single-cam four-cylinder engine guises, ranging from a 55kW/108Nm 1.3 (1999—2002 GL, XLS), a 66kW/126Nm 1.5 (1997—1999 GL and GLi; 64kW/120Nm from the 2000—2002 XLi and 2002 GLi and XLS), a 70kW/138Nm 1.6 for the 1997—2000 XLi, and a limited volume XLi Son Of A Gun Satria, featuring Lotus-tuned handling and an 83kW/137Nm version of the older XLi’s 1.6.
Then there is the most famous Satria, the GTi ‘hot hatch’, a popular boyracer special that achieved cult status courtesy of its fiery 103kW/164Nm 1.8-litre twin-cam unit and Lotus-honed chassis.
A five-speed manual is the only gearbox on the 1.3 and 1.8-litre cars, while the 1.5 also offered a three-speed automatic, with a four-speed auto also available on the short-lived 1.6-litre models.