By on 2011-07-09 -
Proton Satria Neo
THE supermini sector continues to justify its top spot of the new car league and, as you would expect in this wealth of family favourites, choice is of the very essence.
All the expected members of the "band" are there - Ford, VW, Vauxhall, Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Nissan, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Citroen, Mitsubishi, et al, all lining up with a vast variety of small car riches to charm the buyer.
These days, Proton is very much in-with the in-crowd having brought to the small car market the latest Satria Neo Sport, a good looking supermini which has been specifically designed to show off Proton's abilities as a "son of Lotus".
The Malaysian car maker has been in the UK since 1989 and Proton Cars UK Ltd has sold in excess of 135,000 vehicles through its franchise dealer network of 77 full sales dealers and 19 service and parts only operations.
The Satria does come with one power source only on offer, a 1.6-litre petrol engine which, paired with a five-speed manual gearbox (a four-speed automatic is an option) and this three door only model proved pretty nippy.
Performance is sufficiently brisk, 0-62mph taking 11.5 seconds while boasting a respectable top speed of 118mph and the Proton mpg claim is a little over 40mpg on average.
However, the 111bhp engine does tend to make its presence felt when answering the throttle while further disappointment due to the lack of refinement does come with intrusive wind and road noise at motorway speed.
Around town the Satria was acceptable and it delivered a firm, yet never crashy, ride.
When it came to handling the DNA of Proton's owners Lotus came very much into its own providing some highly impressive levels of grip and executing the type of turn-ins found so exciting by fun seeking drivers.
Torsional lean, too, is pretty well contained. The power steering proved razor sharp in its response while 16-inch alloys shod with Continental Sport Tyres helped to maintain stability.
While the steeply raked windscreen does add to the sporty look the glasswork makes for lack of headroom and, with head and leg room proving in short supply to rear occupants and a luggage area limited to 286 litres with all seats taken (615 with seats down) room is decidedly tight.
Also somewhat limited are onboard sorage places although some owners intent on travelling light may, no doubt, be satisfied with a front glove box, side pockets in front doors, rear map pockets up front, a pair of cupholders and two further small compartments flanking the sound system.
I liked the soothing blue dials of the dashboard and applauded the upper dash materials chosen for their low reflectivity which successfully helped to reduce glare from the road while the lower materials where chosen for their durability.
Kit levels are quite generous with climate control, trip computer, MP3 Blaupunkt radio/CD player and reversing sensors leading the way while steering wheel audio controls are always a big plus in the world of driver safety.
Proton Satria Neo Sport
Mechanical: 111bhp, 1597cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 11.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.8
Insurance Group: 7
C02 emissions: 157g/km
Bik rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
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