Shed of the Week: Proton Satria GTI


There was a time when smaller car companies could make a decent living by rehashing the cast-offs of bigger ones.

SsangYong chucked an old Mercedes diesel into some of its cars and positively traded on that. Malaysian brand Proton rummaged through Mitsubishi's back lot looking for old Colts and Lancers to recycle into Satrias/Personas.

Wheelarch extensions are cool, right?
Wheelarch extensions are cool, right?
Proton went further with the Satria GTI. Quite a lot further, in fact, to Hethel in Norfolk, where Lotus's engineers worked a little magic on the suspension.

Their tweaking worked. Contemporary press reviews lauded the surprising precision of the front-drive chassis (based on Lancers that went on to become feared weapons on the world rally circuit), but weren't always so complimentary about the twin-cam engine, even though it looked quite Honda VTEC-y from a distance and gave the GTI a genuine seven-second 0-60 time.

The 1.8-litre's power tended to hide in a fairly narrow mid-range band and there were only five cogs in the gearbox, so any attempt to explore the 125mph top end could only be achieved at the expense of some upper-register hearing. On the plus side, the mechanical din would be drowned out by the punishing amount of road noise, and the ridiculously small petrol tank meant you got plenty of respite stops. At least you were comfy in the Recaro seats.

Not its finest element, granted
Not its finest element, granted
Not many were Satria GTIs were sold because Proton lumbered the car with over-optimistic Polo GTI-level pricing that couldn't be sustained by the brand, even with a layer of Lotusness smeared on.

Nevertheless, the Satria GTI was an important car for the motoring press. Why? Because it gave belaboured car mags a chance to get one back on the keyboard cynics who were always accusing Troy Queef and his mates of taking a bung from some manufacturer or other. The Proton GTI allowed the muttering rotters to show that they weren't brand-influenced. A good car would get a good review, irrespective of the badge on its bum. And the GTI was, by and large, a good car.

While we're on this subject of angst among road testers, Shed knows quite a few of these folk, but every time he's tried to interest any of them in a 'get rich quick' scheme involving the sneaky addition of an extra star or blob onto a road test in exchange for, well, not to put too fine a point on it, money, they've always given him a blank look.

Er, yeah, this probably isn't either
Er, yeah, this probably isn't either
Shed gave up trying to enrich these poor threadbare scribblers a long while ago, and to be frank it's probably just as well nobody ever took him up on it because he never got around to exploring the other end of the deal - the manufacturers. Still, if any car PR people are reading this, Shed was thinking a grand a blob? At the very least it beats thinking about the other grand blob in his life, Mrs Shed.

Inside, the excess of grey plastic pretending to be metal is very 90s, and outside the nailed-on-wheelarch look isn't for everyone except maybe owners of Porsche 993 GT2s. Other than that, the external look is sharp enough in a grown-up Saxo kind of way to make you wonder why every other Proton looks so minging. One possible answer is that Lotus had a bit of styling input too.

But the handling? Oh yeah, spot on
But the handling? Oh yeah, spot on
This particular car has just had both rear seatbelt mounting points welded up to get it through the MOT. The only advisory now is on the exhaust system.

The nature of the beast - fastish car, not much brand value - means that there's likely to be more than the odd rattle and squeak in the cabin resulting from uncaringly hard use. The asking price is a bit hopeful. The vendor thinks he's got something cool and rare, but he's only half right. At the end of the day this is still a Proton, with all the associated respect that this does not entail. But there's still some appeal in the idea of a nippy little thing that no self-respecting TWOCcer would touch with a bargepole.

Here's the ad.

RARE PROTON GTI, LOTUS TUNED/SUSPENSION, 12 MONTHS MOT, DRIVES SUPERB, GREAT CONDITION FOR AGE AND MILEAGE, CAMBELT CHANGED AT 74000 MILES, RECARO BUCKET SEATS, CENTRAL LOCKING, ALLOY WHEELS, SPORTS EXHAUST, INDUCTION KIT, TWIN-CAM 16 VALVE ENGINE, PULLS AND ROARS, LITTLE POCKET ROCKET, ANY INSPECTION WELCOME, ONLY 3 FORMER KEEPERS, STACKS OF SERVICE HISTORY AND MOT HISTORY, ALL MAJOR DEBIT AND CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED, VISIT OUR INDOOR SHOWROOM FOR A VIEWING AND TEST DRIVE TODAY, FREE 12 MONTHS AA BREAK DOWN COVER INCLUDED IN PRICE. Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel - Rake/Reach,Air Bag Driver,Air-Conditioning,Alarm - Volumetric,Alloy Wheels - 16in,Anti-Lock Brakes,Central Door Locking - Remote,Electric Windows - Front,Head Restraints - Front,Immobiliser,Mirrors External - Electric,Power-Assisted Steering,Seat Height Adjustment - Driver,Seating Capacity - Five Seats,Spare Wheel - Steel

 

 

 

 

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Comments (68) Join the discussion on the forum

  • monzaxjr 16 Nov 2017

    Err, that's a Satria you div. Cracking little motors though.

    Edited by monzaxjr on Friday 17th November 00:18

  • Cold 16 Nov 2017

    monzaxjr said:
    Err, that's a Satria you div. Cracking little motors though.
    Yep, Satria. Great little warm hatch. It's the Swift Sport of its day.

  • aaron_2000 17 Nov 2017

    I actually quite like those wheels, they remind me of Speedline ST2's.

  • Ilovejapcrap 17 Nov 2017

    Always liked them in the day.


  • Uncle John 17 Nov 2017

    monzaxjr said:
    Err, that's a Satria you div. Cracking little motors though.

    Edited by monzaxjr on Friday 17th November 00:18
    Bit too early in the morning for Shed.

    Like these in a left field way.

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