Sunday, September 9, 2012

Daily workhorse from now on

In the wake of exorbitant rise in Ron 97 fuel prices, inevitably I need to get a daily workhorse that is cheap to maintain, automatic, runs on Ron 95 and of course reasonably fun to drive (otherwise I’ll end up like other boring middle-aged men). So, welcome to latest addition, a used Proton Satria Neo 1.6 (A) born in 2006.

In terms of looks, the car is inspired by my old Satria GTi, carrying the sporty flavor from the DC5-like front headlamp, fairly flared wheel arches with lowered roofline giving the car a very low-slung with higher proportion of body-to-glass. Upon getting the car, the first thing I did was blacking out of the glass area at the rears making the car looks pleasing to the eye. The end result might not look like a predator poised to pounce but not exactly tamed pussy willing to get bullied either.

Like all Protons, the interior feels bare and crude with substandard plastics mostly ‘at home’ inside the cabin. That does not irk me as much as the ergonomics. Proton truly looks like a newbie in this department designing the interior for customers whom by nature going to behave like apes with badly designed seats, pathetic driving position and steering that feel bare bones in anyone’s hands. If there’s a small consolation I can give is perhaps the air conditioning system relaying cool air almost instantaneously than the previous predecessors.

This first generation of Satria Neo uses non-IAFM Campro twincam 1.6 litre supposedly offering 110bhp and 148nm around 4000rpm. For a car that weights the same as the Pocong, it offers adequate power to move around, even with aftermarket 4-2-1 extractor and catless exhaust system. After covering the distances of about 500 kms, I think the gearing is too long to extract more realistic juices out of the lethargic engine. Revving the car higher than 4000rpm does invite coarse metallic noise that irritates the Honda engines lover like me. And in a way, I’ve made a stupid decision on this car hoping the car can sip lesser fuel than the Pocong because it has taken 40 litres of Ron 95 covering about 295 kms. Luckily the Ron 95 does not cost much and I will reserve the final judgment on fuel economy after major refreshments buffet at my regular mechanic.

The moment I get passed all the negativities, for entry level hatch it’s really genuinely fun to drive thanks to the simple MacPherson struts upfront and multilink at the rear setup and tuned by guys who obviously know what they’re doing. The steering feels great and in tandem with the flowing of the suspension damping. Not exactly R56 MCS like, but you could trail brake as you turn into a corner, instigates a swivel, four wheel slides and the front bonnet should be able to pointing out of the corner very early in its radius. Hardly surprising that it's the norm choice of ride by lots of trackers and karters these days. The only hindrance I can see is that there is a surprisingly natural tendency towards understeer for a car that has symmetrical track width of 1710mm, wider than say 6R/9N Polo and Fiesta. Nevertheless it’s easy car to drive for anyone.

Before carrying it away, I don’t intend to meddle around this car as I do on the Pocong. So, everything will stay stock and cheap. Besides going for major service, I’m only thinking of replacing the 15” wheels and tyres with something a little bit more presentable. I do fancy something like 180sx/S13 15x6.5 or Rota Grid 1570 15x7 with reasonable new tyres. Oh well, let’s see how this new RM28k workaround for daily workhorse pans out and I’m still thinking about what name to give the car.

Might not look like a predator poised to pounce but not exactly tamed pussy willing to get bullied either.

 I'm at cross roads between the two lol

 My favourite is the rear view. But the wheels come with it have got to go for sure (if not refurbished and repainted)
 Option 1: Rota Grid 1570 15x7

Option 2: Original S13/180SX 15x6.5 but extremely rare. Might need to be refurbished and resprayed


  1. Ok lah for daily workhorse, auto because wifey can't drive a car with a stick lol

    1. Can drive laa....just not confident