Maximizing Protons’ Potential

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By Car Brand Experts


Drenched in perspiration after an uninterrupted 20-hour photo shoot session, accompanied by pulsating Hi-NRG beats and intense explosions, it’s enough to induce a peculiar sensation in anyone. However, amidst these exhilarating exhaustion, the most peculiar aspect of my recent journey to Malaysia was the automobiles.

Not peculiar in terms of fitting 19-inch wheels on an Impreza WRX or removing the wing from a Skyline GT-R. I’m referring to peculiarity in a parallel universe kind of manner, akin to Bizarro World. Welcome to the eccentric realm of Proton.

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I must confess, it took me several attempts to comprehend the scenario. After inquiring, “Is that a Civic?” or “Is that an Evo?” multiple times, I gradually began to distinguish between Proton models and their Japanese lookalikes.

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For those unfamiliar, Proton represents Malaysia’s indigenous automotive manufacturer, established by the Malaysian government in 1983 in collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. Presently, Proton commands almost one-fifth of the new car sales market share in Malaysia. These Malaysia-produced vehicles are cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, and appear to be well-crafted. Online assessments typically support this notion.

The design vocabulary reflects a blend of European durability and Japanese profiles. The interiors exhibit more European characteristics than Japanese, almost as if a Mercedes-Benz design was commissioned to Toyota.

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Proton’s presence at Retro Havoc 2024 and in the thoroughfares and parking areas of Kuala Lumpur was striking. When it comes to customization, specific Proton models surpassed the mundane.

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The first vehicle to mention is the Proton Satria, which during its initial era (1996-2006), shared a common platform with the Mitsubishi Mirage and offered various four-cylinder engine options, the most powerful being the Mitsubishi 1.8L DOHC 16-valve 4G93 installed in the GTi model. The evident sporting character of the GTi is presented through its original body extensions and aerodynamic kit, as well as the handling refinements by Lotus beneath the surface. Surprisingly, these models were distributed not only in Malaysia but also in the United Kingdom and Australia.

It’s common for enthusiasts to swap in the 2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo 4G63T, a powerplant frequently seen in Lancer Evolutions.

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Another beloved model is the Wira, which translates to ‘champion’ in Malay. Does it ring a bell? Indeed, as it shares its platform with the fourth-generation Mitsubishi Lancer.

This particular version underwent a rear-end transformation to mimic the Evo III appearance – a significant visual overhaul – combined with additional CE9A exterior components. The upgraded 4G63T engine has been enlarged to 2.2L, incorporating Tomei forged pistons and Manley forged rods, as well as Brian Crower 272-degree cams and valve mechanisms, and a custom billet intake. Noteworthy power enhancements come from the turbo system, featuring a GTX3076R turbo mounted on a bespoke manifold, a Precision Turbo wastegate, and a Trust GT-R intercooler.

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The peculiar Proton hit the spotlight with the Putra, also known as the Evo coupe, which received the Lancer Evolution makeover in its appearance and powertrain. While the Lancer coupe was available internationally, utilizing the same platform as the Putra, it originally housed the Lancer 1.8L 4G93 motor.

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The dedication shown in enhancing these vehicles is admirable. However, the strict regulations in Malaysia prevent the conversion of cars to all-wheel drive, imposing constraints on their potential.

The Satria, Wira, and Putra stand out as the top three modified cars under the Proton banner, with another model capturing my attention. Stay tuned for the concluding chapter of this story…



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