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First drive: Proton Satria Neo 1.6GSX – on sale now


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The Satria Neo is aimed at male drivers over 30, rather than the boy racer brigade that its design suggests.

Boasting handling engineered by sister company Lotus together with its low roofline, rounded rear end and tiger-eye headlights, it’s a great-riding, good-looking, sport-oriented hatch.

Unfortunately the Neo feels cramped and uncomfortable inside whether you’re tall or short.

The seats offer little in the way of support and the low roofline and steeply raked screen just add to the claustrophobic feel.

Engine-wise, the 1.6-litre Neo is disappointing too, and does nothing to live up to the striking exterior design or the Lotus backing.

Performance is poor. The Neo takes 11.5 seconds to crawl up to 62mph – that’s slower than a 1.3-litre Perodua Myvi.

And then there’s the noise. Both road and engine noise levels inside the car are much higher than you would expect of a car at this price level.

To compensate, Proton does include a comprehensive set of warranties with the Neo: a three-year/60,000-mile total vehicle warranty, six-year/100,000-mile engine and gearbox warranty, as well as a three-year unlimited mileage paintwork warranty and six-year unlimited mileage bodywork warranty. And then there’s the three years of free RAC cover.

Proton hopes to sell 1,000 Neos in the next year. With its looks and warranty package, it should achieve this.

Price: From £9,595
Engine: 1.6-litre 111bhp @ 6,000rpm
Performance: 0-62mph 11.5sec; top speed 118mph
Transmission: five-speed manual
Efficiency: 42.8mpg combined; 157g/km CO2
Rivals: Citroën C2, Ford Fiesta
Strengths: Lotus links, good looks
Opportunity: Young, style conscious males on a budget
Threat: Doesn’t deliver what the looks offer
USP: Lotus engineering

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