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The Malaysian hatchback, five-doors in a compact package, has some perky style, a peaky 1.6-litre engine and well-behaved chassis.

Prices start at $17,990, top of the tree is the H-Line version with auto and a $22,990 tag.

There are some good parts and some ordinary parts to the Proton Gen 2. The style is neat and clean; there's a cool, straightforward stance to the front end and a little rise in the profile to that high rump. Inside, it has a fresh and simple, uncluttered approach to dashboard style and layout. The stereo (with tiny controls) is integrated into the dash, the airconditioning controls sit below.

There is a deal of plastic here. Some is acceptable, some bits such as those inside door handles are tacky and feel a tad fragile.

While on doors, this M-Line version of the Gen 2 Proton had sticking doors all round. All shut with a decent sound but all were reluctant to open clean.

The design, inside and out, is good but loses something in the execution. Taller drivers will find the cute sports steering wheel set too low and the seat too high; some of the materials and some of the fit and finish could do with extra polish.

The Gen 2 Proton arrives in three trim levels, all with a fair amount of gear.

An entry level L-Line, from $17,990, is packed with airconditioning, power windows and mirrors, driver and passenger side SRS airbags, remote keyless entry, CD player and trip computer.

The M-Line Proton at $19,500 adds ABS brakes, alloy wheels plus cruise control on the auto. The H-Line from $20,990 adds side SRS airbags, climate-control airconditioning, electronic reversing sensor, front and rear fog lights, rear spoiler and mobile phone holder.

Out and about the 1.6 litres and its 82kW is adequate. There is enough power for most drivers, although it can struggle down low in the rev range and others in this class have more refinement.

There is little argument with the five-speed manual gearbox, the ride or the handling of the front-drive Gen 2.

Perhaps the steering could be sharper but the Proton is quite willing to be pushed along without too much front-wheel fight or understeer. It follows through with suppleness and a decent amount of grip.

This Gen 2 shows some promise as a handsome and handy hatchback.

The road manners are good, the style is cute. There remains room for improvement in build quality (check it against a Honda Jazz or Mitsubishi Colt) and in some of the cabin's ergonomics, particularly the driver's seat-steering wheel relationship.

But if the Gen 2 is evidence of future Proton products, the brand is steadily moving on.

Read the full 2004 Proton Satria review

Proton Satria 2004: GLi

Safety Rating
Engine Type Inline 4, 1.5L
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency 7.9L/100km (combined)
Seating 5
Price From $2,640 - $4,070

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price*
GLi 1.5L, Unleaded Petrol, 5 SPEED MANUAL $2,640 - $4,070
XLS 1.5L, Unleaded Petrol, 3 SPEED AUTOMATIC $2,420 - $3,850
XLS 1.5L, Unleaded Petrol, 5 SPEED MANUAL $2,310 - $3,630
See all 2004 Proton Satria in the Range
*Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
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