Take a dash of Impreza hatchback, add a splash of Honda and toss in Lotus fettled underpinnings and there’s the Proton Suprima S. A Wheel Thing has been granted access to three Proton cars, kicking off with the aforementioned Suprima S, followed by the people mover styled Exora and wrapping up with the Preve’ sedan.
The Suprima S is a two model range, the GX and GXR with a single engine and transmission option. The donk is a 1.6L, four cylinder, turbo petrol kit, butting up against a CVT with a preprogrammed, seven ratio manual shift operated by the gearshift and (in the GXR) paddle shifts. There’s 103kW on tap at 5000rpm and a linear delivery of torque, 205Nm from 2000 to 4000 revs. It’s not a rapid mover, with Proton quoting a tick under ten seconds to hit 100 kmh. It feels a bit quicker than that and the CVT certainly aids in a constant feel of “push in the back”, with a seamless, ongoing delivery that belies what the speedo says. The engine itself is smooth, quiet however there’s a constant and irritating moan from somewhere directly in front of the passenger seat. It’s noticeable and intrusive, from ignition on to off and detracts from the driving experience. Economy wasn’t as good as expected; the Suprima has a smallish 50 litre tank on board and was drained at around 9 litres per hundred.
The Suprima rolls on 16 or 17 inch alloys, depending on spec; the test car provided was the GXR and had European Continental rubber, 215/45/17s and provide superb grip. However, on coarse chip roads there’s too much road noise, to the point conversation is hard inside the cabin. The low sidewall height also exacerbates the taut suspension; as good as it is, by ironing out the ripples and undulations, it sharpens the edge of a bump that a softer or higher sidewall would absorb. As a driver that prefers a sporting oriented suspension, I think the overall combination is too tight which would be more of a deal breaker for the average steerer. When thrown, hard, into turns, the Suprima hangs on nicely, there’s minimal understeer into turns, with the suspension holding the chassis flat. But over the reflective cat’s eyes or ripples designed to alert drivers they’ve reached the road’s edge, the reaction is more instant, harsh and intrusive. Given the GX sits on slightly narrower 205s, but with 55 profile on 16 inch rims, I’d suggest that would be the slightly more accommodating ride for bumps. On the freeway, the Suprima GXR takes imperfections such as dips in its stride, essentially flattening out the tarmac and the ride, on a smoother surface, is comfortable and, for a sporty driver, enjoyable.
The Suprima S has a design split personality. The exterior is clean, sleek, with the profile resembling the aforementioned Impreza, the front somewhat Honda-ish and the rear has a touch of Mazda. It’s a mostly harmonious conglomerate and easy enough on the eyes. LED running lights, auto folding mirrors, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors and LED powered tail lights offer a nice bit of external tech. The inside, however, is the Achilles heel of the Suprima. Hard and sharp edged plastics, colour schemes for the dash plastics and display and a layout that were out of date five years ago, a gear lever that feels cheap butting up against modern tech in the form of an Android operating system based touch screen for radio/navigation. It’s an odd and jarring design. Ergonomically, there’s a couple of things that don’t work, such as placing the hatch release in the driver’s door pocket and a need to put the key fob into a slot, click it in then press a Start button, that’s overdoing it for the sake of looking good. The seats are covered in machine made leather, they’re well padded, supportive and provide enough lateral body holding through turns but the driver’s position feels high; looking through the front window leaves the eye searching for an end point, a measure of where the nose is but can only see the window line itself. Interior room is fine for two adults and two children, however the dimensions wouldn’t comfortably allow a third person for the back seat. Safety is covered by airbags all round including curtain ‘bags plus the usual suite of driver aids.
Under way the 1.6L turbo delivers, it’s a more than competent handling setup bar the sharpness occasionally, but a dated interior, road noise and engine bay moan dull an otherwise enjoyable package. Go here for information: http://www.protonsuprimas.com.au/
and for pricing contact your local Proton dealer or speak to Bid My Car and Private Fleet.