Published on August 31st, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Proton Satria GTi Or Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo To Buy Today
A lot of excitement for the Satria GTi now but what about a Mirage Turbo instead?
In the last two years there has been a renewed interest in sporty hot hatch cars and one of the cars in high demand has been the iconic Proton Satria GTi. Yes, the once popular with car thieves and parts thieves lost its appeal about 6 to 7 years ago and prices were slowly falling.
Then in 2020 there was a renewed interest in this ‘hot with the car thieves’ Proton. It is now a hot favorite with many in Malaysia with its responsive and highly tune-able engine and nimble chassis. Priced new at RM68,000 it was a must have for many young single men and some women also.
Sold in only one colour it was later superseded in 2010 with the Satria GTi R3, which sold out a few short weeks after its introduction. Then came the Neo GTi (pictured below) which remains a hot favorite today.
Based on the previous generation Mitsubishi Colt, the engineering behind the Proton Satria may not have been the very latest but it was at least proven. Mechanically it was closely related to the Wira sedan 1.8L and the story was the same inside. Boasting development from the chassis experts at Lotus, which Proton owned at the time, this GTi was kitted out with Recaro seats and stylish alloys.
Today a used Satria GTi is worthy of a first and even second look as it still offers excellent handling (assuming all suspension bits are new) making for an entertaining drive. The black and silver-grey Recaro seats take you in their grip and suggest a full racing harness would not be ostentatious.
The solid alloy gear-lever knob is at first cold and uncompromising and hints at short ratios and peaky performance, a promise reinforced by the white-faced tacho that red lines at 7,500 rpm. Since torque peaks at 5,500 rpm and horsepower at 6,500 rpm allowing you to potter around also.
Just 4-5 years ago you will have to be prepared for a rattling interior, paint touch-up almost everywhere and a worn interior. Prices hovered between RM12,000 to RM24,000. Today they have inched up to RM20,000 to a high RM35,000. Fully restored units are being sold by a couple of people and are priced from RM45,000 to a lofty RM60,000.
Mitsubishi introduced the third generation of the Mirage-based Colt in 1988, and in the three-door version, it was just a small-segment vehicle, while its four-door brother was the famous Lancer.
When the Japanese auto brand tried to expand its model range, it focused on affordable cars. Its target was to have as many cars on the roads as possible. That is why it focused on the small-segment vehicles, and the Colt was one of its most important products for the company and a handful of these hot hatch cars arrived in Malaysia. All were used gray AP import cars as Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia at the time did not see a big enough market for hot hatch cars in Malaysia.
With its narrow headlights and swept-back turn signals it was very different from other cars from that era. Mitsubishi designers provided wide doors and a big glass area between the B and the raked-forward C-pillar.
Inside, there was also little room for creativity from the carmaker’s design team. The flat dashboard featured a raised area in front of the driver, with the instrument panel inside. A pair of bucket seats with some bolstering supported the front passengers, while in the back, a split-folding seatback could accommodate two passengers nicely.
Under the hood, Mitsubishi installed a variety of petrol engines for each market. There was a 1.6L DOHC engine mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox and also a GTi rival. The performance version Mitsubishi Colt was fitted with a naturally aspirated 1,836cc engine producing 136hp which provided 0-100 km/h acceleration in 7.9 seconds and could reach a top speed of 200km/h.
In case you were wondering, this car was designed by Masaru Furukawa the chief engineer was Yasukichi Akamatsu.
Which To Buy
It is not easy to find a used unit of this Mitsubishi Mirage for sale but we came across a unit with a transplanted Mitsubishi VR4 engine and its automatic gearbox (yes you might want a manual to have more fun). This is an easy daily driver with bags of power and handling fun.
Asking price was RM36,800 which is very close to a Satria GTi asking price today however we liked what the Mirage offered in terms of cabin look, feel and quality. Then there is that VR4 engine. The Malaysian car and parts thieves will also be less interested in the Mirage.
Final decision is yours and if you want a manual, get a used VR4 5-speed gearbox and install it yourself.