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Proton Satria GTi 2004 review

The Satria GTi was a good-looking, hot-to-trot little unit that talked the talk, but more importantly, walked the walk.

Even the basic, garden-variety Satria had the looks and the value to make it an attractive option for young buyers.

Build quality was a bit of an issue but the fun factor was high enough to put those concerns on the back burner.

Since then Proton has had a couple of strikes. First with the Waja – an overpriced, under-performing sedan that was roundly shunned by the market – and the Jumbuck, a well-conceived small and affordable ute, which unfortunately was well down the scale for build quality.

Enter the Gen.2, a small hatch with the mission of taking Proton into the realms of Hyundai and Kia as reliable, affordable small transport.

With plenty of development input from Lotus, which is owned by Proton, it is no surprise that the Gen.2 is, dynamically, a compliant and composed little car.

Body stiffness is reassuring and handling sure-footed with a comfortable ride quality – something of a surprise because anything wearing a Lotus badge, while it sticks like glue, usually requires a kidney belt as an accessory.

A little disappointing was the steering, which can feel quite woolly, particularly at lower speeds.

The 82kW 1.6-litre Campro engine – a Proton in-house development – is a lively unit when revved up towards the limit.

Cruising, it feels sadly under-powered with little low-end pick-up. It also gets fairly coarse when at the business end of performance.

The five-speed manual on the test car was light and easy to use without any particular precision to the gates. The ratios and the need to keep the revs high for any sort of urge meant plenty of changes.

The exterior design is a clean-sheet effort from Proton's own people and while it shows some obvious "influenced by" cues (the Mercedes CLK tail-lights for one), the result is pleasing to the eye.

That clean and fresh appearance carries over to the interior of the car, where the dash is stylish and individual.

Materials are comparable with others in the same class but fit and finish is disappointing.

Again, the badge is being let down by poor quality assurance on the build line.

In the test car the electric windows did not work and the adjustment unit in the centre console came away in the hand.

Close inspection of much of the fit and fitment for the trim showed evidence of either haste or poor practice.

Rear leg space is adequate but headroom is restricted by the slope of the roof. The seats front and back are comfortable without being particularly supportive. Bolstering is moderate at best.

The Gen.2, which comes in three specification levels, offers airconditioning, power steering and mirrors, driver and passenger airbags, seat-belt pretensioners, disc brakes, central locking, remote keyless entry, a CD player and a trip computer as standard on the base model.

The M-Line, as tested, adds ABS brakes, alloys and cruise control on the auto.

An extra $1490 will get you the H-Line trim with side airbags, climate-control airconditioning, an electronic reversing sensor, front and rear fog lights, a rear spoiler and a mobile phone holder.

There is no doubt that the Gen.2 is a huge step forward in both value and package over the Waja.

But there is certainly no time for the company to relax yet.

It still trails its obvious rivals Toyota, Hyundai and Kia in key areas, particularly with build quality.

Pricing guides

$3,250
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,100
Highest Price
$4,400

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GLi 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2004 Proton Satria 2004 GLi Pricing and Specs
GTi 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,400 2004 Proton Satria 2004 GTi Pricing and Specs
XLS 1.5L, ULP, 3 SP AUTO $2,200 – 3,850 2004 Proton Satria 2004 XLS Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.