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Proton has big hopes for its reborn, Lotus-tuned, light-car class combatant

13 Feb 2007

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.

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Model release date: 1 February 2007 to 1 August 2012

Previous model

Proton Mk1 Satria

Released: 1997
Ended: 2006
Family Tree: Satria

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. Confused? 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.

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