With British sports car specialist Lotus in charge of suspension development, you’d reckon Proton was crying-out for a ‘hot hatch’ to replace the acclaimed Satria GTi from a decade ago. Well it’s here – the Suprima S.
Available in two model grades, priced from $18,990 ‘Driveaway’, the five-door Proton Suprima S employs a turbocharged 1.6-litre powerplant, boasts five-star safety and impressive standard equipment. It’s yet another example of the efforts being made by the Malaysian company – now part of the giant DRB-HICOM conglomerate – to be a global player.
In fact, as well as Australia, Proton has launched the Suprima S in the UK, Thailand, Brunei, Turkey, Egypt and South Africa. Proton says the Suprima S, its sedan brother the Preve, and the handy Exora seven-seat MPV are the future of the brand.
Such is the confidence of Proton, the Suprima S comes to Australia, like all Protons, backed by five years or 75,000kms of free servicing, warranty and roadside assistance plus a seven-year corrosion warranty.
Proton Suprima S Overview
Proton has launched the Suprima S – its most comprehensively equipped model yet – in two grades, the GX and GXR.
Included in its extras, Proton Suprima S GXR adds leather seats, satellite navigation, a reversing camera, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels (16-inch on GX), steering wheel paddle shifters, push-button start, DRLs, climate control air-conditioning, front parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers.
Proton has launched the Suprima S with a factory bonus so the launch prices are:
GX manual $18,990 (‘Driveaway)
GX automatic $20,990 (‘Driveaway’)
GXR manual $23,790 (‘Driveaway’)
GXR automatic $25,790 9’Driveaway’)
Proton Suprima S Engine
Here’s an example of the internationalization of Proton – as well as the Lotus-tuned suspension (from England), the Suprima S runs Proton’s Malaysian-developed turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine which drives the front wheels via a ProTronic seven-step CVT transmission which is sourced from Belgium (the six-speed manual is coming).
The ‘CamPro’ engine complies with Euro 5 emissions standards and delivers maximum power of 103kW at 5000rpm and peak torque of 205Nm between 2000-4000rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 9.1l/100kms.
Proton Suprima S The Interior
Proton has done a good job in delivering a pleasing contemporary look inside the Suprima S. For example the seven-inch Android OS LCD touchscreen for the satellite navigation/DVD player has Bluetooth, USB, iPod and Wi-Fi compatibility so you have internet access (when the handbrake is on) – impressive in a car at this price.
The overall tone is dark grey, the seats provide reasonable support and gloss piano black highlights add a quality touch. Instrumentation is conventional.
Rear seat accommodation and luggage space (60/40 split-fold rear seat) are on-par with rivals and overall quality of the Suprima S’ we drove was impressive. Stretch a few bucks and go for the leather-trimmed GXR if you can.
Proton Suprima S Exterior & Styling
Again you’ve got to hand it to Proton – styling was a collaborative effort between Proton’s own designers and Italian specialists Giugiaro. The result is an exterior look which, while not earth-shattering, is contemporary and unlikely to offend.
For example the bodyside creases add a sporty look and the 17-inch alloy wheels on GXR models look purposeful under the curved wheelarches front and rear.
At the front, Proton’s usual ‘Wings’ grille for the first time uses a honeycomb treatment. A modern four-headlight design incorporates the LED DRLs on GXR models (a first for a Malaysian-built car) and below, a cool air duct is accentuated by the fog lights in black housings.
The side view accentuates the nicely curved roof and six-window layout and the rear sees angular tail-lights and a roof spoiler.
Proton Suprima S On The Road
Proton despatched us from Sydney Airport through some peak-hour traffic and out via the Hawkesbury River to Riverside Oaks golf course and back – a good variety of roads to exploit the Suprima S.
There’s no doubt about the driveline. While the turbocharged 1.6-litre isn’t the most powerful engine in this league, it is a willing worker and is nicely mated to the impressive seven-step CVT transmission which delivered handy response especially when using the steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes.
As for the chassis, well that ‘Lotus Ride & Handling’ badge on the Proton Suprima S’ hatch isn’t just for decoration. Lotus tweaked the McPherson strut front/multi-link rear end for appropriately sporty dynamics but still comfortable ride.
The results we gleaned over those winding roads north-west of Australia’s premier city were undeniably impressive. Turn-in was crisp, mid-corner stability was apparent and the Suprima S responded well to throttle adjustments when needed.
Likewise over some of the less than perfect roads where the Suprima S displayed impressive refinement and stability. The 17-inch wheels of the GXR did introduce a tad more tyre noise on those poor quality roads but not intrusively so.
Proton Suprima S Challenges
That slick chassis could easily handle a more powerful engine…which will probably come with the arrival of ‘RS’ (Race, Rally Research) models under development as Proton works towards some high performance models (spy photos of which are already doing the rounds as testing is underway in England).
Proton Suprima S Verdict
Proton Australia is very enthusiastic about the Suprima S’ ability to deliver sales growth into 2014. And with good reason – while not the hottest of hot hatches - more a sporty hatch - this is a world-class car.
Very well equipped, five-star safe and backed by that five-year warranty, the Proton Suprima S ticks all the boxes for buyers in this league.
Here’s the thing – take a longer-than-normal test drive in the Proton Suprima S. Its strength is that Lotus-tuned suspension and you won’t feel those benefits in the usual ‘once around the block’ scenario.
Proton Suprima S The Competition
In this league, Car Showroom has three favourites – the Ford Focus, Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30.
Ford’s German-origin Focus is a cracker (although a little pricier than the Suprima S, kicking-off at $20,290 for the 1.6-litre Ambiente). The 125kW/202Nm 2.0-litre Sport model is the pick but for that you’ll need at least $25,890.
Kia’s excellent Cerato starts at $19,990. Good looks, lots of space and well-built, we’d stretch to the 129kW/209Nm 2.0-litre engine if possible (from $23,990).
Our other favourite is the European-derived Hyundai i30 which, while a little more expensive (starting at $20,990) is very classy inside and out. Like the Kia Cerato, the i30’s entry-level 110kW/178Nm 1.8-litre engine is good, but not as good as the more expensive 2.0-litre.