The Proton Satria GTI Merdeka Edition - isn't it high time the nameplate is resurrected so we can get our hands on one?
The Proton Satria GTI Merdeka Edition
Let’s face it, every Proton fan worth his/her salt wants to see the return of the Proton Satria GTI. We can almost conceptualise it, what it would be, a small hot-hatch with a turbocharged engine, hooked up to a self-shifting and oh-so-engaging six-speed manual, which then powers the wheels through a bareknuckle Limited Slip Differential (LSD). It’ll have 16-inch… no, 17-inch wheels, hood vents for cooling and two exhaust pipes poking out through the centre of the rear bumper.
Thanks to cars like the Renault Megane RS, Honda Civic Type R, and GR Toyota Yaris, we already can imagine how it’ll have to look. A sleek yet busy front end, wide arches at the front, even wider haunches at the rear, and don’t forget the biggest spoiler vehicle legislation would allow fitted, tacked onto the top edge of the rear bootlid. It would be orange, no red, maybe lime green like a Mercedes-AMG GTR, maybe even gold, who cares, as long as it turns heads.
All we know is an entire generation of young/old and eager petrolheads want it so badly, and we wanted it yesterday. If only Proton would listen. The sad thing though is that deep down, we probably know that they won’t, it’s an SUV world out there. Hot hatches, if you don’t already have one with 25 years of heritage to boot, is a risky gamble, to say the least.
They just don’t make them like they used to, maybe Proton doesn’t have the moxie they once did, or maybe they just want to play it safe.
Well, the good thing is, we don’t have to, and when you have access to some clever software and talented graphic designers, we can at least dream up a version of our own, just for kicks, but yes, we have tried to recreate what a modern-day Proton Satria GTI “Merdeka Edition” would look like and there it is.
Life imitates art and style…
Now we get to the best part of our berangan-angan piece, the design. Given that the Satria has always been a two-door hatchback we have drawn a lot of inspiration from the Satria Neo. Using that car’s “body-in-white” we then thoroughly updated the exterior with the current familial face. We have adopted the current Proton grille assembly and integrated the ‘Infinite Weave’ grill fascia.
Next, we adopted the snazzy and angular lights as seen on the Proton X50 to accentuate the width of our Merdeka Edition Satria. The design render draws heavily from the proportions and stance of past Satria, such as the Satria GTi and Satria Neo R3. We have retained aesthetic highlights such as the flared wheel arches, rounded edges of the rear glass, pronounced rear spoiler and sleek front hood – but added sleek DRLs on the front bumper for a modern look.
Along the flanks, our modern rendition packs a snazzy wheel and tire package. The design is finished in a Blazing Orange hue with tiger-print vinyl for the extra touch of Malaysian spirit.
The heart of the beast
For the powertrain – we would like no other than the Proton X50’s 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. However, if we had our choice, we would opt for the port-injected and less powerful version, which outputs 150PS and 226 Nm from 1,500 to 4,000rpm that is currently fitted in the entry-level variants of the X50. Of course, the engine will be hooked up to the Geely developed 7-speed DCT transmission also seen on the X50.
While this may be counterintuitive since the Satria is a sporty hatchback, with 150PS it will already be the most powerful “regular” Satria model to be produced. As we know that this similar package is priced at just above RM79k in the X50 Standard variant – it could well help the Satria (which is smaller and has two doors less) to be produced and sold even cheaper, making it more commercially viable.
This will also contribute to Proton’s overall economies of scale by having two models with the same engine. We would, however, use some of that development money to adapt Geely’s 6-speed manual unit (currently offered with the Emgrand GS in China) for use in the Satria. Of course, we have to have a manual!
The more powerful direct-injected 177PS 1.5-litre engine and six-speed manual combo can be used in you guessed it… an R3 version of our future Satria.
Chassis and underpinnings
Now here is where it gets interesting. Logically, the updated ‘P2’ platform used in the Iriz and Persona would provide the most economical means for development since it’s already a proven package. However, given the Proton X50 is already built on the Geely BMA platform – which is amazingly modular and flexible – it might be the best and most forward-thinking option to develop our future Satria on the same platform.
Again, the economies of scale would suggest that this would be the best step forward as the P2 platform is an ageing platform even today. The BMA platform would also allow the integration of commonplace active safety systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Warning, this will not be possible with the P2 platform in its current state.
With Proton’s expertise in chassis and handling tuning, there’s little wonder that a future Satria would be nothing short of superb to drive. If the X50 is anything to go on, we can be assured that a car with less weight and lower centre of gravity (like the Satria) would be amazing to drive.
Will we ever have a Satria Merdeka Edition?
Trust me, we would love to buy the crystal ball that gives us that very answer. However, since we have a greater understanding of what it takes to create a great car, much less a performance hot-hatch, the odds are slim but here’s to hoping! The purpose of creating these renders is to at least have a thought process of how it might look, feel, and most of all present a case study of why it could work.
Our coming Hari Merdeka is one like no other, while we all love our country and treasure its sovereignty – Malaysia and its people have been hit hard by the pandemic and we’re not out of the woods yet. We must all come together and play our part to fight this and celebrate what unites us instead of focussing on what divides, and in doing so, why not celebrate with great cars that we all know and love… like the iconic Proton Satria.
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