We love Lotus for many reasons. Yes, the thought of lightweight track heathens with more grip than horsepower sends our hearts all aflutter, but there are other reasons to be smitten with the British brand. Like how occasionally the engineers get bored and decide to turn an otherwise pedestrian vehicle into an all-out rocket. Cars like the Dodge Spirit R/T and Isuzu I-Mark have all gotten a healthy dollop of help from Lotus, and now it looks like the Proton Satria Neo can count itself among those lucky souls.
Under normal circumstances, the Malaysian Neo shares driving DNA with wet cardboard, but the new Neo R3 Lotus Racing Edition looks to cure that ail. Adjustable Ohlins(!) coilovers replace the stock bits, giving the car a little extra grip in the corners, along with some substantial chassis bracing. Lotus also threw in AP Racing(!!) four-pot stoppers up front and a set of lightweight alloys on all four corners. Power from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder gets bumped up to 145 horses, helping to get the reworked Neo to 62 in a little over 9 seconds. Did we mention it has racing stripes over its carbon fiber hood? Yes, really.
If you're wondering how all this madness came about, remember that Proton has owned a majority interest in the British sportscar maker and engineering firm since 1996. We're guessing that the classic Lotus racing colors would've otherwise been off-limits to, say, Perodua.
Priced from 115,000 Malaysian ringgits (about $35,500 USD), the Satria Neo R3 will be limited to just 25 examples in honor of the company's 25th anniversary.