Published on April 7th, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Saria NEO R3 Lotus Track Test
Even without the Lotus badging this car looks fast parked. Now with the input of Proton’s racing arm, R3 and the engineering know how from the boys at Lotus, this car is more than just a fun street racer. It has been lighten in the front to even out weight which is common in front engined cars, some tuned bits have been added like ‘Ohlins’ suspension and ‘AP Racing’ brakes for anchoring the car on a dime. Physical appearances have also been thought of with a meaner looking rear wing spoiler, some beefier side skirts and front and rear spoilers to keep this car not only looking very different from standard or even modified Neo’s but also for adding aerodynamic influences to it. Proton have also installed lightweight Advanti Racing 16 x 7 ET38 alloy wheels with Bridgestone Adrenalin RE001 205/45 R16 tyres for that final handling and looks package.
Inside a comfortable pair of race seats have been installed and a push button ignition gives it that premium image. The Lotus ‘green’ paint on the exterior and interior lends to the overall picture. It all sounds and looks good standing still so is it worth the RM115,000.00 asking price? Well the ‘worth’ is in its drive and so we took it out first with R3’s top driver and Malaysia’s drift king, Tengku Djan for a taxi ride around the Proton test track. Ignite the engine and very little noise seeps into the cabin which is rather disappointing, but when you prod the accelerator things change as the engine rev cleanly across the range and is able to reach 7,000rpms easily. We moved across the track in 4th gear at almost the limit of the engine range and there was never a feeling that the car was out of breath. Next was our turn behind the wheel. From 1st to 3rd this car feels very brisk and the 0-100km/h time of 9.3seconds seems easily do able. We stick to 4th gear and it is clear that the engine is willing to keep the revs happy in the high range without feeling out of breath. The suspension is not all that stiff and in fact feels comfortable and with no bounce and wavering as we negotiate the long bends at the end of the track. The surprise of this car is in its balance and tight steering feedback as we take on the tight slalom in 3rd gear with the revs happily sitting between 4-5,000rpms. It is very balanced and we could skim around the cones with ease.
It is clear that the ‘premium’ asking price is for the handling and braking package first and the rest falls neatly into place as we understand why this project is for only 25 units. After the 25 units are sold, it will definitely become a cult collector’s car and replacement parts will of course be not that cheap. Current Satria Neo owners take note that these parts are not for sale at all for upgrading your existing car and even the suppliers will not entertain you requests. Buy one now to avoid disappointment.