• Jan 20th 2009 at 11:39AM
  • 7

Click above to view more of the Proton Satria Neo S2000 rally car

Before Subaru entered the World Rally Championship in the Nineties, it was little more than an obscure Asian automaker. Though its rallying efforts helped to put it on the map, Subaru has decided to ditch the WRC this season. But another little-known Asian automaker may be ready to pick up what Subaru is throwing away. That company is Malaysian automaker Proton. And it's not as ridiculous as you may think.

The state-owned enterprise has a strong customer base in Asia, and is the largest automaker in the Muslim world. Proton also owns Lotus, which brings the parent company a considerably performance engineering knowledge base to tap into. Subaru's former partner Prodrive is looking for a new client. And to cap things off, now unemployed former champion Petter Solberg (who used to drive for Subaru), is now rumored to be signing on to Proton's rally team. Together with motorsport garage MEM, Proton has been busy preparing an S2000-spec rally car based on its Satria Neo hatchback for the lower-level Intercontinental Rally Championship, and if plans to switch the WRC to a modified "S2000+" formula come through, it could pave the way for Proton to mount an assault on the WRC by 2010, as the brand is eager to expand outside its regional market and establish itself in Europe.

[Source: Autosport | images via paultan.org]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Do they make torpedos? I just can't say that name without snickering.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Heh, we used to joke that if you scratched the paint off a Proton you would see the paint from a Milo tin underneath. For the most part the cars are alright, unfortunately niggling little things will break in the first year. Most often the electronics, like power windows.

      The Wira, Satria, and Putra were late generation Mitsubishi's so were great for making Franken Evo's out of em. It was common to see em with Evo III and Evo IV parts bolted on with a 4WD conversion. The Proton Pert team used an EVO 7 the entire way.

      The current Gen-2 is not a bad car, build quality is much improved. I rode in one after they first came out. So I expect the Satria Neo to be of the same quality. SInce they started using the Campro engines, they should be more reliable machines, but highly underpowered. 110 bhp, 127bhp for the VTEC/VVTi model, and a projected 150bhp for a forced induction model. What's the use? If Lotus knew how to make proper engines, we wouldn't see the 2ZZ-GE in the Exige, or the 2GR-FE in the Evora.

      They should have leveraged their proper Mitsubishi heritage and made a Satria GTI with AWD and a near 300bhp engine a long time ago, with the "Lotus Tuned Suspension" Instead industrious Malaysians just went and did a parts swap themselves from donor Evo's.

      Perhaps this S2000 spec Satria Neo is a sign of good things to come... I hope so.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I really like the looks of this one. Too bad it won't be for sale here in the U.S. with an Acura Type-R motor stuffed in the front end. Four wheel drive is nice, but I would be happy with front wheel drive and the Type-R motor.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That would be awesome. Now get Hyundai back in there, or even KIA.
      • 6 Years Ago
      You could drive a Proton Wira in the good old Rally Championship !
      If only Proton coming back to WRC meant Rally Championship coming back to PC...
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