We don't really see Protons much here in America, and by "much" I mean "absolutely never at all ever ever." Like many things foreign and unseen in the US, they don't really enjoy a very good reputation. But maybe this car will open some minds.
This is the just-announced Proton Suprima S Super Premium which may be the most super-premium name ever. "Suprima" sounds like a hybrid of "super" and "premium," "S' probably stands for "Super" (or maybe "sport" but let's just say "super" again) and then there's another "super" and another "premium." So supremely super premium.
Many folks do know that Malaysia's Proton is the owner of Lotus now, which explains why Lotus did some ride and handling development work on the car, reminiscent of the work they did for Isuzu back in the '80s.
I haven't really looked at Protons in a while, so I'm mostly struck by how handsome the five-door hatch is. It was partially styled by Italdesign Giugiaro, so that's not so much of a shock, really.
Proton says of the car
Powered by PROTON's 1.6L Turbo engine, with its 7-speed ProTronic CVT, the Proton Suprima S delivers power and torque equivalent to a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine. The 1.6L power plant produces 103kW @ 5000rpm with maximum torque of 205Nm from 2000 to 4000rpm. The driving dynamics of the Suprima S is enhanced with Lotus ride and handling, providing an outstanding driving experience.
... which isn't bad, but 138 HP is a little lean for a "performance" variant by American standards, at least. And I don't quite get why a CVT would be a "7-speed," unless they're doing that fake-gear ratio thing some CVT cars seem to like so much. In Malasia, the Suprima S (not the Super Premium S Super Premium Super one just announced) goes for about $23,000 US, so I'd expect this one to be a bit more.
So, if you're in Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain, or one of Proton's other markets and get to drive one of these when they're released later this year, I'd love to hear what you think.