Orion to Campro – A Brief History of Proton’s EnginesInsights
Having witnessed the first cranking of Proton’s new engine yesterday, we feel it’s time to indulge in a little nostalgia and have a lookback at the various engines which our national company had used during its 30 over years in business.
Mitsubishi 4G13 & 4G15
Usage: First gen Saga (1985-2007), Wira (1993-2009), Satria (1994-2006), Arena (2002-2010)
Mitsubishi’s venerable Orion engine family in its 1.3- and 1.5-litre displacement configurations was the backbone of Proton’s line-up for over twenty years. Early models were carburettor-fed and had only 8 valves. The most common version of the engine had 12 valves as introduced during the 1991 Saga Megavalve facelift. The engine was carried over to the Wira in 1993 with electronic fuel injection introduced from 1998 onwards.
Usage: Wira 1.6 (1993-2000), Satria 1.6 (1994-2000)
Proton’s first engine with 16 valves. The Mitsubishi 4G92 as introduced in the Wira 1.6 was a major advancement over the 1.5-litre 4G15 used in the lower models. Early versions were reportedly tuned with outputs as high as 118hp, although most official Proton accounts state outputs of just 111hp, which is still impressive for the time. The engine was completely dropped from the line-up in 2000, just before Proton introduced the Waja.
Usage: Perdana (1995-1998)
Proton’s first venture into the D-segment was powered by an engine that shares its block with the Mitsubishi Evo. But unlike the turbocharged 4G63T used in Mitsubishi’s rally hero, the Perdana’s 2.0-litre 4G63P was a much simpler powerplant, being naturally-aspirated and operating only a single camshaft, although it still had 16 valves and electronic fuel injection.
PSA TU series
Usage: Tiara (1996-2000)
Not a chapter of its own history that Proton is keen to revisit. The one-off Proton Tiara was a hastily rebadged Citroen AX that ran on a 1.1-litre petrol engine from the PSA Group. There were further plans for 1.4-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel variants to follow, but lack of interest in the model killed those ambitions; for the better, perhaps.
Usage: Wira 1.5 (export spec)
The Mitsubishi 4G91 1.5 DOHC engine is a popular halfcut transplant among Wira owners, but there was a very small number of export-spec Wiras that actually rolled out from Proton’s factory with this engine installed.
Mitsubishi 4G93 SOHC & DOHC
Usage: Wira 1.8 (1996-2000), Satria GTi (1998-2004), Putra (1996-2001)
Introduced in the 1996 Wira facelift, the 1.8-litre 4G93 DOHC is best known for its use in the Satria GTi as well as the Putra. In the Wira, this engine was offered in both SOHC and DOHC setups, the latter configuration famously used to power the limited-run rally homologation spec model.
Usage: Wira 2.0D (1996-2000)
Proton’s first and, to date, only use of a diesel engine that was also introduced during the 1996 facelift of the Wira. Unlike modern turbodiesel engines that we are more familiar with today, this engine was neither turbocharged nor direct injected. Performance was therefore sluggish and the model never really gained traction. A turbodiesel version was also offered for overseas markets but never sold officially in Malaysia.
Usage: Perdana V6 (1998-2010), Waja Chancellor (2005-2010)
The four-cylinder 4G63’s tenure in the Perdana’s engine room was short-lived. Just three years after its introduction, Proton uprated the Perdana to incorporate six-cylinder power, plonking in the 6A12 V6 which boasted the same 2.0-litre capacity. This is the engine which the Perdana eventually became synonymous with. Among performance enthusiasts, conversion to the twin turbo version is a popular modification.
Usage: Juara (2001-2003)
Whilst the Juara is another chapter in history which Proton would prefer to forget, this engine has the distinction of being the only one in this list to be arranged in a longitudinal configuration. The reason being is that the Juara is Proton’s only rear-wheel drive car to date.
Usage: Waja 1.6 (2000-2006)
Loosely classified as a member of Mitsubishi’s Orion engine family, the 4G18 is nevertheless significantly different and more advanced than the 4G13 and 4G15 engines mentioned above. It’s a single cam engine with 16 valves and fuel injection. The engine is noted for its long-stroke configuration, which gave it strong low torque and good fuel economy. Also, unlike its 4G13 and 4G15 forebears used in older models which had transmissions placed on the right, the 4G18 in the Waja was installed with transmissions placed to the left.
Usage: Waja 1.8 (2002-2006)
The Waja 1.8 was supposed to mark the start of a longer term engine collaboration with Renault that would have also seen a 1.9-litre turbodiesel introduced in the Waja. Alas, only the 1.8-litre petrol came to fruition and it was a shoddy job too. Integration of the engine to the Waja’s platform was not done properly and the car did not feel resolved as a result.
Usage: Savvy (2005-2011)
Although badged as a 1.2-litre, the Savvy’s Renault-sourced D4F four-cylinder engine displaced only 1,149cc, making it technically a 1.1- or 1.15-litre engine. Interestingly, the 1,197cc D4FT engine currently offered in the Clio GT Line and Captur TCe 120 models is actually derived from this powerplant.
Campro S4PE & S4PH
Usage: Gen.2 (2004-2014), Waja (2006-2007), Satria Neo (2006-2014), Persona (2007-present), Saga BLM (2008-present), Preve (2012-present)
The Campro engine first debuted in the Gen.2 before spreading across the Proton range, becoming the backbone engine of the line-up. It was initially launched with 1.6-litre displacement and quickly followed by a 1.3. The engine was noted for having a lively top end, but lacking punch in the mid-range, its torque curve blighted by a famous dip at the 3,000-4,000rpm region. The 1.3-litre Saga BLM launched in 2008 had an IAFM mechanism that is said to mitigate this dip; this feature was later implemented into the 1.6-litre engine of the Persona and Gen.2, although the Waja and Neo curiously never had it. This basic version of the Campro continues to be an important engine in the line-up, powering the Saga, Persona, and Preve.
Usage: Waja (2008-2010), Gen.2 (2008-2014), Satria Neo (2009-2015), Exora (2009-present)
What the Campro was meant to be from the start. The Campro name was derived from the Cam Profile Switching ability which the engine was meant to originally have but never successfully integrated until 2008, when the Waja and Gen.2 were both updated to receive this enhanced powertrain. Today, this version of the Campro powers only the Exora.
Mitsubishi 4B10 & 4B11
Usage: Inspira (2010-2015)
The Proton Inspira, as we all know, is a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer. Unlike the original, however, buyers of the Proton iteration were given a choice between 1.8- and 2.0-litre powertrains. The 1.8 was initially offered with 5-speed manual and CVT, whilst the 2.0 was CVT only. Readjustment of the line-up saw the 1.8 CVT discontinued, but we know there were plans at one stage for a manual version of the 2.0-litre model, which would have been interesting for the purists.
Usage: Exora (2012-present), Preve (2012-present), Suprima S (2013-present)
First introduced in the Exora, the turbocharged CFE engine was Proton’s answer to the Campro engine family’s chronic lack of torque. Fitted with intake-only variable valve timing and port fuel injection, it generates commendable outputs of 138hp and 205Nm. Unfortunately, this engine’s performance potential has never been quite fully realized – the Punch CVT attached to it is too poorly calibrated and blunts the potent outputs. The engine is also meant to go with a 6-speed manual transmission supplied by Getrag – quite why this setup has yet to see the light of day is beyond us.
Campro VVT 1.3 & 1.6
Usage: Iriz (2015-present)
The latest iteration of the Campro engine family goes back to natural aspiration, but retains variable valve timing technology. Like the basic Campro engine, it is available in 1.3- and 1.6-litre displacements. To date, it is offered only in the Iriz.
Honda R20A & K24Z
Usage: Perdana (2015-present)
The 2.0-litre R20A SOHC i-VTEC and 2.4-litre K24Z DOHC i-VTEC engines are familiar units from the previous generation Honda Accord, the car which inspires the new Perdana. The current-generation Accord has dropped the K24Z engine in favour of a new powerplant from the Earth Dreams series engine, but the R20A remains in service. Following the announcement of seven new engines being developed by Proton yesterday, there are rumours that these two engines in the upcoming Perdana will eventually be replaced by Proton’s in-house powertrains.