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Proton in model flurry

Stepping up: The next Satria, essentially a smaller version of the five-door Gen.2 (above), is said to be styled in the same vein as Audi’s A3 and Alfa’s 147.

Proton plans an abundance of sexy new vehicles for Australia

28 Oct 2004

PROTON’S Gen.2 small hatch launched this month is just the first of many all-new models the Malaysian national car-maker intends to introduce to Australia, a market it says is important to both its ambitious expansion plans and future model development.

Just two decades after releasing its first vehicle, Proton has become an integral component of Malaysia’s industrial shift from plantation to production.

While the Waja medium sedan represented the first locally-designed vehicle in 2001, the first Proton-built engine in Gen.2 makes it the first all-Malaysian car.

And, following Proton’s decision in 1997 to cease producing superseded Mitsubishi models under licence, there’s plenty more to come from the state-of-the-art, 1280-acre Proton City facility at Tanjung Malim, 100km north of Kuala Lumpur.

The facility will produce 150,000 cars in its first year but has the capacity to build one million cars per annum. It is five times bigger than Proton’s Shah Alam plant, which has an annual capacity of 240,000 units.

Fundamental to this production growth are four new platform divisions:
  • Vehicle Platform A, which will form the basis of next year’s Satria replacement model (SRM) and a light car codenamed TRM.

  • VPB, which underpins Gen.2 and Waja.

  • VPC, a platform for a vehicle dubbed LCM – possibly a small people-mover.

  • VPD, from which an all-wheel drive crossover at this stage called MSX and a new sports car dubbed the Putra Elise will sprout.

The development of many of these new models will include validation work in the Northern Territory, where Gen.2 underwent high-speed, on and off-road, noise-vibration-harshness and dust sealing tests in 2003.

Proton carries out its cold weather testing in Sweden but describes Australia – where it hopes to sell 5000 vehicles in 2006 and eventually many thousands more – as “a key location for Proton engineers”.

Kicking off the new model assault will be a new Satria three-door hatch, which is due on sale here in early 2005.

Essentially a smaller version of the five-door Gen.2, the next Satria is said to be styled in the same vein as Audi’s A3 and Alfa’s 147.

It will be followed by the TRM city car by April next year, just before a Cam Profile Switching (CPS) variable valve timing version of the 1.6-litre CamPro engine becomes available in a new sports variant of the Gen.2. A Gen.2 sedan will also become a reality.

A replacement for the popular Satria GTi may also be released here before the end of next year following a facelifted Waja, making 2005 a big year for Proton.

To fulfil it’s hot-hatch role, it is likely the sportiest Satria will be powered by a 2.0-litre from either Mitsubishi or “a European manufacturer” until a 2.0-litre CamPro engine comes on line.

Similarly, Proton also plans to build a CamPro V6 for its MSX-codenamed six-seater AWD SUV due in 2006 – the same year a facelifted Jumbuck will receive CamPro power – and possibly for the two-seater performance car that will be styled in the vein of the Lotus Elise but forego the expensive bonded aluminium chassis employed by its subsidiary’s UK-built vehicles.

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