It’s been a while coming but finally, the Proton Satria Neo gets the Campro CPS engine. The new version, which will be in selected showrooms from today, is not given a ‘GTI’ badge but is said to recall the ‘spirit of the Satria GTI’ which was one of the more admired Proton models. It’s probably better that it is not positioned as a direct successor since the Satria GTI was a lot more powerful and also more purpose-tuned whereas the Satria Neo CPS is essentially a Satria Neo with the more powerful Campro variant and a bodykit to give it sportier looks.
At this time, there is no indication of Proton will ever do a Satria Neo GTI but if they do start to offer a turbocharged Campro, then that could well justify the ‘GTI’ badge. Nevertheless, as Proton MD Dato’ Syed Zainal has said before, whatever model is developed must first make business sense and be able to sell in enough numbers. 

One of the more admired Protons, the Satria GTI was the first model to get Lotus tuning for its chassis

In the case of the Satria Neo CPS, Proton expects it to provide some incremental sales for the model to achieve around 4,800 units this year (3,846 units were sold in Malaysia in 2008). Like the Satria GTI, the Satria Neo CPS is expected to account for 15% of Satria Neo sales so they’re looking at 720 units a year or 60 units/month. The Satria GTI, in its best year, averaged 74 units/month but that was back in 1999. 
Visually, the Satria Neo CPS has bolder looks with its bodykit that includes a larger roof-mounted rear spoiler (almost as large as the one on the Nissan Latio Impul). The front and rear bumpers are also difference with more distinctive styling elements: at the front, the airscoop is larger and the airdam extends lower while at the rear, the lower portion of the bumper has a diffuser-like design, a current trend.
Along the sides, the wheel arches are also more distinct with the exposed fasteners, just like in the Satria GTI. The car gets a low-slung look with side skirts that also visually increase the depth of the body sheet metal, giving a more purposeful profile with what appear like smaller glass areas. Only two colour choices are available – black or white (choosing white will save you RM450 as it is a non-metallic colour). 


Exposed fasteners on wheelarches, just like the Satria GTI

Large rear spoiler identifies the CPS version

The non-CPS Satria Neo

There are some minor differences in dimensions as a result of the bodykit. Overall length of the Satria Neo CPS is 7 mm shorter but it is 35 mm wider and because the overall height is taken at the top of the spoiler, it is listed as being 14 mm taller. The wheelbase of 2400 mm is the same but the rear tracks are 13 mm wider.
The interior, not unexpectedly, has a sporty ambience with dark shades and red accents on the leather upholstery and door trim mirror the red panel on the Campro engine cylinder head. In terms of extra equipment, the CPS version will only be offered with H-Line equipment (there is no H-Line version for the non-CPS Satria Neo now) and this means it gets cruise control. Other than that, there is nothing else extra for the Satria Neo CPS other than the leather upholstery and leather-wrapped steering wheel.




Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre Campro CPS engine is already familiar to most people but for those who may still not know how it differs from the standard Campro engine, here’s a quick recap. ‘CPS’ stands for ‘Cam Profile Switching’ which involves a mechanism that allows the valve timing to be altered according to driving conditions and needs. With conventional designs, engineers have usually had to make a choice between high performance at high rpm and sacrifice low rpm driveability or vice-versa but with CPS, there can be strong performance at both ends of the rpm range. CPS, like the variable valve timing systems of Toyota (VVT-i) and Honda (i-VTEC), makes it possible to have ‘the best of both worlds’. However, compared to the systems  in the Japanese models, Proton’s CPS (which was developed and patented by Lotus Engineering, a subsidiary of Proton) is a simpler mechanism without infinite variability which makes it cheaper to produce.
The Campro CPS also has a Variable Intake Manifold (VIM) which varies the airflow at different speeds, especially at lower engines speeds, to enhance torque generation. The VIM works with the engine control unit so its operation is optimized and the engine gets the right amount of air whatever the condition.
These two items boost power to 93 kW (125 bhp) at 6500 rpm from 82 kW(110 bhp) of the non-CPS/VIM engine while also adding 2 Nm of torque to make it 150 Nm at a peak of 4500 rpm.  



Customers can buy their Satria Neo CPS with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. It is likely that the manual transmission will get more buyers and in fact, the majority of Satria Neos sold last year had manual transmission.
With the extra weight of the bodykit and the CPS engine, the Satria Neo CPS weighs between 1227 kgs with an automatic transmission, 43 kgs more than the M-Line Satria Neo Automatic. However, with the extra power, the weight-to-power ratio is better for the Satria Neo CPS (9.8 kg/bhp versus 10.7 kg/bhp) so overall, performance should still be better. Factory claims don’t reflect this, though, as the spec sheet shows the same top speed (190 km/h for the manual transmission and 185 km/h for the automatic) as the Satria Neo. Even the 0–100 km/h acceleration times are only tenths of a second different. Fuel consumption at 90 km/h is claimed to be 15.2 kms/litre with the manual transmission, 14.5 kms/litre with the automatic. 


There is no mention of specific uprating of the chassis or suspension to cope with the extra power but it does of course have Lotus Handling (as a badge on the rear hatch proclaims) and according to a Proton engineer, the Satria Neo was already tuned for sporty handling so it was felt that further tweaking would be unnecessary.


16-inch alloy rims are exclusive for the CPS version and have a custom colour

The 16-inch alloy rims are, however, exclusive to the CPS version and have a customized colour. The tyres are a 195/50 size, which is what the M-Line Satria Neo with automatic transmission also has. 
Safety features are what would be expected of a car in this price class and unlike the other Satria Neo versions, the CPS version has standard dual front airbags and ABS+EBD. Proton doesn’t talk too much about star ratings for its products these days but emphasizes that the bodyshell of the Satria Neo is very rigid and strong with high tensile steel used in many areas. It can be taken for granted that the model would meet certain crash standards since Proton aims to be more serious about the export business and its models would have to be able to meet safety standards in places like Australia and the UK. Hopefully, EuroNCAP will test more Proton models since the only one they have ever tested has been the Waja (which got 3 stars).

The price for the Satria Neo CPS is RM57,763 with manual transmission and RM60,763 with automatic transmission. That’s about RM9,000 more than the non-CPS M-Line Satria Neo and RM300 more than the Gen2 CPS H-Line. Considering the sportier looks and promise of better performance, the extra money is probably worth it.


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