The Proton Satria is a three-door hatchback that was produced for the market from 1997 until 2011. It was given its name due to the fact that ‘satria’ means ‘knight’ in Sanskrit, with the intention of emphasising the sporty look and feel of the car.
Upon introduction, the Satria was available in three trim levels: GL (base) GLI (mid-range), and XLI (top of the range). The GL and GLi models utilised a 1.5L engine, whereas the XLI was given a slightly more powerful 1.6L engine. This was followed in 1999, by a 1.8L GTi model, as well as GTi El Tigre and Son of a Gun XLS models in 2000.
The second-generation models arrived here in 2007, complete with a slightly new name – the Satria Neo. Trim levels were renamed G (base), GX (mid-range), and GXR (top of the range). The models were given a sleeker, rounder appearance with a longer yet slimmer body.
All of the models in the lifespan of the Satria, with the exception of the GTI model, were available with a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic gearboxes.
The base GL and mid-level GLI models used a 1.5L engine that had a power output of 66kW at 6000rpm and a torque of 126Nm at 3000 rpm, with an acceleration of 0-100km/h in 15.2 seconds when coupled with an automatic gearbox. Acceleration is better when paired with a manual gearbox, which allows the car to reach 0-100km/h in 13.6 seconds.
The slightly larger 1.6L engine improved on this somewhat lacklustre performance, with 70kW of power output at 6000 rpm and a torque of 138Nm at 5000 rpm, propelling the car from 0-100km/h in 13.1 seconds. This slightly sluggish performance would be dramatically improved with the release of the performance-based GTI model in 1999, which for the first time utilised the expertise of the Lotus Engineering staff to help improve the car.
The 1999 GTI model boasted an electronic multi-point injection 1.8L engine which provided 103kW of power output at 6000 rpm, as well as a torque of 164Nm at 5000 rpm, helping to shave more than 4 seconds off the acceleration time to enable the GTI to go 0-100km/h in an impressive 9.1 seconds. The GTi performed very well and had strong pulling power, reacting positively when pushed hard.
In terms of fuel economy the GL and GLI models used 7.9L/100km in an urban environment and 6.5L/100 km elsewhere, leaving a combined fuel consumption of 7L/100 km. The 1.6 L XLI model was less economical overall, using a combined 7.9L/100 km with a manual gearbox and 8.7L/100 km with an automatic gearbox.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, is the fact that the fuel economy of the GTI model was the best of all of the first generation models. Indeed, the GTI used 7.8L/100km in an urban environment, 5.9L/100km in an extra urban environment, leaving a combined fuel consumption of 6.6L/100km, which was no doubt a testament to the involvement of Lotus Engineering.
Of the second-generation Satria Neo models, the high-end GXR model showed marked improved on the previous non-sports-tuned models of the first generation, with 82kW of power output at 6000 rpm and a torque of 148Nm at 4000 rpm, with a combined fuel consumption of 6.6L/100km.
While contemporary reviews of first-generation models criticised the lack of grip on the road – and perhaps rightly so – the GTI model and later Neo models benefitted hugely in terms of ride and handling from the involvement of Lotus Engineering in its development. The finely tuned suspension and better tyres increased grip and decreased the bumpiness that was prevalent in other early models when driven at speed.
Upon introduction to the market in 1997, the base GL model included a 4-speaker stereo with radio cassette, a tilt-only adjustable steering column, and metallic paint as an option. The GLI model added power steering, body colour bumpers, power windows in the front and rear, and a choice of CD player or radio cassette with air-conditioning as an option.
By the introduction of the Neo models in 2007, the high-end GXR model included alloy wheels, ABS, engine immobiliser, airbags, an alarm, and park rear distance controls, together with an mp3 decoder.
Stiff competition is provided by the VW Up as well as the Seat Mii and Kia Rio, all of which are more economical. However, many will be attracted to the Satria for offering a decent amount of refinement and personality at such a low price.