This is a sporty little hatchback with a lot going for it, not least its looks and Lotus-tuned chassis which make it good fun to drive. Itâs well equipped and the 1.6 litre engine has enough go in it to please the sort of buyer it will attract
As you may know, Proton bought Lotus in 2003 which gave it access to some of the worldâs finest chassis tuning engineers and the results shine through in the Satria Neo. Show it a series of twisty bends and it will put a grin on your face like few other hatchbacks. It handles very well indeed yet also rides well, firm but nicely composed over bumps. Certainly the chassis is the carâs strongest suit.
As the `neoâ part of the name suggests, this is a revised version of the car and among the improvements has been a programme to make is more refined and quieter on the road.
There is a choice of two engines, a 1.3 or 1.6 with the bigger one also being available with the option of an automatic gearbox. I had the 1.6 and itâs reasonably potent with 111 bhp
Still and all I did like the Proton. The styling works for me and it seems for others too. At the front there is a distinctive headlamp shape which Proton refers to as `tiger eyeâ projector lamps, the alloy wheels sit under flared arches and at the back the Exhaust tailpipe pokes out in the middle of the valence.
Quite a few people asked me what it was and seemed surprised when I said Proton
The cabin is a little bit small and I found headroom to be quite restricted but the car is well equipped. There is blue backlighting on the dials, an MP3 compatible radio/CD and Bluetooth for hands-free mobiles. Air conditioning comes as standard so it is not a bad package.
I spent a week with the car and couldnât help but like it, even while wishing for a slightly nicer engine. The chassis and the handling are excellent, it looks sporty and the equipment level is generous.
Proton Satria Neo
Car tested 1.6 GSX Â£9,595
0 to 60 11.5 seconds
Top speed 118 mph
Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
CO2 157 g/km
Insurance Group 7
Service intervals 12 months/9,000 miles.
Proton Satria Neo S2000 Rally car being tested at French Alps
MEM was originally formed in 1982 as an outlet for its owner, Chris
Mellors, to compete in British Champion Rallying but soon developed into a
successful preparation company winning events and more than 10
championships all over the world since it was formed in 1983. Highlights
include MEM winning the British Championship twice, the FIA Production
World Championship with the Proton Wira in 2002, the US Pro-Rally
Championship in 2003 for Mitsubishi USA and the 2004 FIA Asia-Pacific
Championship, again for Proton. Building on this successful partnership
between MEM and Proton in Malaysia, MEM was authorised to transform the
road going version of Protons Satria Neo model and produce a
ground-breaking conversion of the Satria into the full specification Super
2000 car that you see today.
Designed by Mellors Elliott Motorsport, (MEM), the new Proton Satria Neo
Super 2000 rally car has just raised the performance bar for the rapidly
expanding FIA Super 2000 rally series.
The concept was developed by using a combination of innovative engineering
designs, the 25 years of experience of the teams technical staff but,
crucially, also the input from the teams owner and extremely successful
driver, Chris Mellors. The result is an astonishingly small and agile car
which from the very outset was designed for the driver.
With an attractive and aerodynamic package for the front bumper, wings,
rear bumper and rear spoiler complimenting the eye-catching Satria design,
the Proton S2000 can achieve in full rally trim the smallest frontal area
and the lowest roof height in its class even at rally ride height settings.
Driver and Co-driver seat positions are fixed at the rearmost possible
mounting points to maximise the cars weight distribution but with the pedal
box and steering column both adjustable to suit different pilots. The MEM
rollcage design uses 35 metres of lightweight Chrome Moly tube together
with strategic body strengthening resulting in vastly improved torsional
bodyshell stiffness and a no-compromise safety cell for the crew. The
cleverly designed side crash protection bars are uniquely shaped to aid
driver and co-driver access into and out of the car.
The 2 litre Proton Super 2000 engine is derived from the 1.8 litre engine
fitted to Protons Waja model and has been further developed by MEMs
engineers to produce a reliable 278 bhp @ 7600rpm with a usable power band
from 5,500 to 8,500rpm. Combined with the best 6-speed sequential 4WD Super
2000 transmission currently available, (the 532 version from market leaders
Xtrac), the car sets new standards for engine performance and driveability.
The fuel system innovates too with a quick-change fuel control cassette,
(which includes all the fuel pumps, filters and valves), attached to the
MEM-designed FIA FT3 safety fuel cell to aid rapid maintenance.
Alcon provides the braking power with their latest Super 2000 alloy 4-pot
calipers and ventilated discs which combined with the Neos low overall
weight of 1150kg gives astoundingly short braking distances. The ventilated
disc sizes are independently maximised for both Gravel, (15 rims), and
Tarmac, (18 rims), but for both simplicity and cost the brake calipers are
common to both setups thanks to a simple mounting arrangement.
MEMs engineers have designed the suspension with a relatively conventional
layout of wishbone and MacPherson strut, which means it will be easy and
relatively cheap to maintain whilst remaining super-reliable. However, the
design has cleverly maximised damper travel to such an extent that the bump
stops are the only part that stops the body sills hitting the ground on
full bump travel! This translates into achieving both an ultra-low tarmac
setup with go-kart levels of body roll and a long-travel gravel setup with
enormous ability to soak up the biggest bumps. With various anti-roll bars
available for both front and rear and with MEMs 25 years of rally
experience, the suspension setup can be easily fine-tuned for any rally
surface or type.
The latest technology is used in the electrical systems with a
state-of-the-art Multiplexed wiring system capable of managing the entire
cars electronics from a central unit ideally placed in the centre of the
car in-between the driver and co-driver. Apart from the weight saving
reduction that this achieves, it is simple to operate and, with
automatically resetting circuit breakers, this is technology and
reliability at its best.
The result of all this is a car which not only has well-proven technical
advances and novel design but also has simplicity where appropriate to
ensure the best possible combination of performance and reliability.
FIRST DRIVE: PROTON Satria Neo R3 Lotus Racing
There was a torrential downpour the evening that Ignition.my had the
opportunity to test drive the recently launched Proton Satria Neo R3 Lotus
Racing. Launched in conjunction with Lotus' return to Formula 1 this year,
it really is a very special and very limited edition of only 25 cars. It's
a brilliant car, what a performance Proton Satria Neo should be: good
spread of power and strong acceleration, fun handling and strong brakes,
and aggressive race-refugee styling.
Peugeot 206 GTi vs Proton Lotus GTi - With Richard Hammond
Richard Hammond compares two hot-hatches - the up market Peugeot 206 GTi,
and on the lower end of the budget - the Proton Lotus GTi. He tests both
car's performance and handling and weighs up both of their pro's and con's
to see if price makes a big difference when it comes to performance.
Proton Satria Neo R3 Lotus Racing Edition
BadBoyBen pays a visit to Proton's motorsport division - R3, to check out
the very limited edition R3 Lotus Racing Proton Satria Neo before it is
delivered to buyers and has a chat with head of R3 Tengku Djan Ley and
Suriaya Kumaran, R3's Project Manager.