Proton Satira

With Lotus’s help, the new Proton Satria is a decent warm hatch

Evo rating
Price
from £9,595
  • Great ride, involving handling
  • Mediocre performance, credibility

Remember the last Proton Satria? There was one model, the GTi, that was surprisingly good to drive. Surprising, that was, unless you knew that Lotus had sorted the chassis. Now there’s a new Satria, and it too wears a ‘Handling by Lotus’ badge. Once again the dynamics are the most alluring part of the package, though this time Lotus’s involvement includes interior and exterior design and the development of the new 1.3- and 1.6-litre ‘CamPro’ four-cylinder engines, which deliver a respectable 94bhp and 111bhp respectively. The pricing is keen – the 1.3 costs £8995, the 1.6 £9595 – yet the standard spec includes a Blaupunkt CD/MP3 stereo with wheel-mounted controls, 16in alloys and air con. It looks pretty good, too, though the cabin is let down by some brittle plastics, fake TT-style rotary vents and unappealing grey seat fabric, even if the seat itself gives decent lateral support.

The 1.6 sounds slightly thrashy and feels a little down on the quoted outputs – the result, one suspects, of the hefty kerb weight of 1170kg. The claimed 0-62mph time of 11.5sec feels about right. The gearshift is pretty ordinary, and the brakes don’t have the bite you’d really like.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Subscribe now and get your first 5 issues for £5 or buy the latest issue in all good newsagents!

Thankfully, the dynamics lift the experience. Initially it feels like handling has been sacrificed for ride quality; the Satria soaks up a bad road, delivering a smooth, quiet, controlled ride. Tack into a decent turn and, although there’s roll, the steering proves remarkably direct and accurate. Anyone old enough to recall how quick-ish French cars like, say, the 205 and 309 XS used to drive will appreciate the Proton’s dynamics.

Keeping the Satria flowing is key. Grip is OK, but get too enthusiastic on turn-in and fine balance falls into scrubby understeer, the decent 195/50 Conti SportContacts tucking under a little and losing some of their hold. Similarly, if you get on the throttle too hard, too early, the inside wheel spins up and you slip wide (no traction or stability control). But the tail reacts nicely to a bit of lift-off weight transfer, aiding agility, and can be coaxed into modest slip. Finding the limit and staying on it is the challenge.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Ultimately weight blunts performance against rivals such as the Panda 100HP and SportKa. Although the tidy little Proton is bigger, costs less and boasts that ‘Handling by Lotus’ badge, ultimately it lacks their overall appeal.

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1597cc, 16v
Max power111bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque109lb ft @ 4000rpm
0-6011.5sec (claimed)
Top speed118mph (claimed)
On saleNow
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/911/201958/porsche-911-gt3-vs-gt3-rs-vs-gt2-rs-track-battle
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 GT3 vs GT3 RS vs GT2 RS - track battle

Porsche’s GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS are the most hardcore of the 911 breed, but pitched head‑to‑head which will we crown champion?
15 Nov 2019
Visit/ferrari/201950/new-ferrari-roma-612bhp-198mph-gt-car-joins-the-range
Ferrari

New Ferrari Roma: 612bhp, 198mph GT car joins the range

Ferrari has expanded its GT car range with the V8 powered Ferrari Roma
14 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019