Melbourne '08 Preview: Proton R3 Satria hints at future hatch hotness

click above for high-res gallery of the Proton R3 Satria

Malaysian automaker Proton will offer up a teaser of its next-generation hot hatchback when it shows the R3 Satria, a performance variant of the Satria Neo, at the Melbourne Motor Show next week. R3 is Satria's in-house performace wing -- headed by a former Lotus engineer -- and the nomenclature stands for "Race, Rally, and Research." The previous R3 Satria was a single-class racer based on the last-gen Satria, but this R3 Satria appears to be positioned as the spiritual successor to the original Satria GTi road car.

2000 - 2004 Proton Satria GTIThe GTi (right) was Lotus-tuned and made over 130 horsepower, and while Proton's not ready to talk specs yet, the new R3 Satria should likewise have a definitive edge over its standard counterpart when it arrives in the marketplace. It certainly seems to have the hot-hatch looks requirements down (see above), with its aggressive front air dam, skirting, roof spoiler, stripe package, center-exit exhaust, and wheel/tire package. Spiffy.

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Proton Gives A Hint To New Hot Hatch With R3 At Melbourne Motor Show

Proton will give Australia a sneak preview of its next generation hot hatch when it unveils the Proton R3 Satria at the Melbourne International Motor Show on February 29.

The R3 Satria has been developed by Proton's special vehicles and motorsport arm - R3, which stands for Race, Rally, and Research - at its headquarters in Shah Alam in Malaysia.

R3 is headed up by former Lotus engineer and prominent Malaysia race driver Tengku Djan Ley. The R3 Satria combines a range of special body enhancements as well as suspension development and a high performance power plant, to give the Satria Neo a true edge in the hot hatch arena.

At this stage the R3 Satria is still in development and no on sale date has been decided however the R3 division is working to bring the performance model to market as soon as possible.

While the type and configuration of the power plant can not be revealed at this stage R3 has targeted a significant power increase over the standard Proton Satria, which is powered by Proton's own Campro 1.6 litre twin cam multi-valve engine.

Alongside the R3 Satria at the Melbourne Motor Show media day will be Proton's new four-door Persona sedan, which will also be launched at the show.

According to Djan Ley the R3 Satria has been developed as a spiritual successor to the legendary Satria GTi, the first Proton to utilise the expertise and performance credentials of subsidiary company Lotus.

"We have very much focussed on the Lotus philosophy of performance through lightweight, utilising intelligent powerplant solutions while minimising weight and enhancing Satria's already impressive handling," said Djan.

"The Satria is a striking design and a great canvas for us to work with, I believe the R3 Satria will be a real hit at the show and draw a lot of attention," he added.

"However it is on the road where it will be really impressive but people will have to wait a little while before the R3 Satria hits the tarmac," he added.

Proton Cars Australia managing director John Startari said the presence of the R3 Satria on the Proton stand at Melbourne will be a huge drawcard during the fortnight of the show.

"The question we get asked all the time is when will the next Satria GTi be here, the first generation GTi carved a real niche for itself and it is a bit of a cult car, the R3 Satria certainly give some pointers to what its successor might look like," said John Startari.

"While we can't reveal too many details at this time Satria GTi enthusiasts can rest easy in the knowledge that a performance version of the new Satria is not too far away and the R3 Satria is evidence of that," he added.

As well as revealing the new Persona and R3 Satria, Proton will also show a full array of its Australian model line-up at Melbourne including the Savvy city car, Gen 2 hatch, Satria Neo and Jumbuck ute, recently named the cleanest and greenest ute in Australia by the Australian government Green Vehicle Guide.

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