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Published on October 13th, 2012 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Proton Satria used car review. 1996 onwards

The Proton Satria was introduced to the Malaysian market in the mid nineties. From its launch date it sold like ‘white bread’ where every first time car owner on a budget had to have one and middle class families were happy to have it as their second car in the garage. College students with affluent parents were also lining up to purchase the Satria as aftermarket tuning possibilities were very high allowing for a variety of more powerful turbo-charged Mitsubishi engines to be shoehorned in with very high 200 plus brake horsepower figures. In the first few months there was an actual long waiting list for deliveries. This was to be the last of the Proton waiting list situations. Since then Proton salesmen have had to wait for customers to turn up at their showroom.
The Satria was essentially a three-door hatchback version of the then successful Proton Wira sedan, which itself was a rehash of the Mitsubishi Lancer. It was based on a tried and proved basic structure, which meant it was a competent car in many areas but no matter how much standard equipment was installed at the factory, it was still short on the sort of modern technology that often dictates safety. Airbags!
The Satria first arrived with a 12-valve, single overhead camshaft engine displacing 1.5 litres then weeks later a 1.6 and a 1.3. The hot 1.8 twin cam version came later which still enjoys cult status of sorts and has a 130bhp twin-cam engine.

Now we look at a used 1.6 Satria automatic.  Other than the 1.6 and 1.8, performance is hardly a Satria strong point and the 1.5 and 1.3-litre engine can struggle at highway speeds with a full load of passengers on board. The manual version, with its five-speed gearbox, is a much better proposition than either the three-speed autos that were offered. You can easily locate a used Proton Satria as there a hundred’s for sale around the country by private sale and used car dealers. Dealers have stock coming from repo yards and many owners have upgraded to newer cars. So why purchase a used Satria? Simple. Most owners would have rectified most of the problem from the factory and with high depreciation hitting the car, you could be behind the wheel of a sixteen year old 1.6-liter automatic well looked after single owner unit for under RM9,000. The Satria will accommodate 4 in comfort, has a decent sized boot, is cheap to maintain and run, has lots of aftermarket possibilities and comes with better build quality than a used Kancil from the same era with added power and comfort.
With a standard unit handling is a mix of decent ride and average cornering, and while a Satria won’t interest the keener driver, it should do the job around the city and small towns, where it’s best suited and used as daily vehicles by the mass motoring public. Build quality has always been an issue. The interior trim is plasticky and can rattle after a few months of road use depending on the number of bumps and pot holes you hit daily. Power window failure is very common. Rear hatchback speaker board will never last if aftermarket speakers are installed. Its side panel mountings will also give way after becoming brittle in the sheering Malaysian heat.
The driving position is comfortable enough and the seats are firm and the 3-speed automatic gearshift is smooth and delivers good mileage. You should look for wear to occur in the hydraulic lifters at start-up. A ticking noise is a good indication. Repair and replacement is not an issue but can be a little pricey. High mileage engines might be better of being replaced than overhauling. Half cut engines are plentiful and available at most junkyards. Prices are low and including installation they can be as low as RM2,000 with full documentation.


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