It may sound like a pizza but there is more to the Proton Suprima S than rolled-out dough, tomato stuff, cheese, and assorted toppings. It’s a tasty looking small-medium five-door hatchback.

Now, the hatchback served up by the Malaysian automobile maker has a new topping and a fresh name, the Suprima S Super Premium. A name like this holds hopes of great expectations. Alas the Suprima S Super Premium does not entirely deliver.

Proton puts much store in its product quality with five years or 75,000 km free scheduled servicing, plus a similar length of time or 150,000 km warranty and 150,000 km free 24 hour roadside assistance. On top of this there’s a seven-year anti-corrosion warranty

However, the Suprima S Super Premium joins a heavily congested ultra-price-sensitive, small-car market containing some quality opposition. The going is bound to be tough.

Based on the sporty R3 the Super Premium looks the part with its spiffy 17-inch alloy wheels and R3 body kit including re-designed rear bumper, front spoiler and R3 badged side skirts. It’s a step up from the standard Suprima S.

Backing this up inside are leather upholstered seats, a reversing camera, push-button start, steering wheel mounted paddle shifts, and cruise control as standard.

In-car infotainment is provided by a 7-inch touch screen that gives access to a built-in DVD player, GPS navigation system and reverse camera. Sound is presented through two front tweeters and four speakers.

There is Bluetooth, USB, iPod and WiFi compatibility, with the proviso that the user can only browse the internet, access YouTube, watch DVDs, or play Android-based games – thankfully only with the handbrake on.


A separate information display keeps the driver up to date with trip distance and time, instant fuel consumption and distance to empty. In addition there’s a car and key-fob low battery warning and seatbelt reminder, plus a range of warning lights.

Powered by Proton’s own 1.6-litre low-boost intercooled turbocharged engine, mated with a ProTronic continuously variable transmission, the maker says the Suprima S delivers 103 kW at 5000rpm and 205 Nm from 2000 to 4000rpm. That is, power and torque equivalent to a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine.

Driving dynamics of the Suprima S are given a fillip with a Lotus ride-and-handling package, providing a driving experience unique to this vehicle market.

There is certainly no skrimping on safety measures. Occupant protection begins with a bodyshell manufactured using an advanced hot press process, giving it strength to absorb impact forces while at the same time being light enough to aid fuel efficiency.

The Suprima S also has driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, and full length curtain airbags for front and rear seat occupants.

Active safety aids include Electronic Stability Control with Brake Assist, Traction Control, ABS anti-skid brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, front active headrests, front seat belt pre-tensioners, auto door locks, rear proximity sensors and active hazard lights that automatically switch on in the event of a collision or when sudden braking is detected at speeds above 90km/h.

In addition to the internal features are front parking sensors and hill-hold assist. It all adds up to the Proton Suprima S being awarded a 5-Star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.

Outside the sun was shining, which was good; inside the sun was shining, which was not so good, as the reflection was bright enough to almost obliterate any info on the dash-mounted 7-inch touch screen, not to mention the air-con having to work hard to maintain comfortable surroundings. The latter was a surprise as there’s no shortage of hot, humid weather in Malaysia.

When working hard, the engine produced a harsh guttural sound, over which played a distinctive turbo whistle. The CVT operated smoothly, while driver intervention using the paddle shifts to select from seven preset ratios served up a less-than inspiring experience.

A firm but compliant ride and sharp handling, backed up by 17-inch alloys shod with 215/45 tyres, paid tribute admirably to the Lotus name. Also, there was little wallet wallop on the fuel front, with the test car clocking up consumption of 6.2 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres on the motorway and a bit under 10 litres per 100 around town

There are cars you could drive forever, then there are others. The Proton Suprima S Super Premium belongs with the latter. However, the Malaysian manufacturer is not giving up on the model, with the sportier R3 Super Premium due for release in Australia soon.

Proton Suprima S GX 1.6 CVT: $21,790 (drive away)
Proton Suprima S Super Premium 1.6 CVT: $26,590 (drive away)
Note: These are drive-away prices and include all government and dealer delivery charges.

Six airbags
ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist
Electronic stability control and traction control
7-inch LCD touch screen
DVD player
Leather seats
Reversing camera
Front parking sensors
Push Start Button
Paddle shifts
Cruise control
Auto headlights and wipers
Daytime running lights

(1.6-litre intercooled turbocharged petrol engine)
Configuration: in-line 4-cylinder
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 205 Nm @ 2000-4000 rpm
Maximum Torque (petrol): 142 Nm @ 2800-4400 rpm
Emissions: Euro 5

Drivetrain: Seven-speed electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission driving the front wheels

Length: 4436 mm
Width: 1786 mm
Height: 1524 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Track: 1542 mm (front, rear)
Ground clearance: 155 mm
Seating capacity: 5

Suspension: Lotus Ride and Handling Package. MacPherson struts (front); multi-link with stabiliser bar (rear)
Brakes: ABS anti-skid brake system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control. Traction Control
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy 17in / 215/45

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: Not available
Top speed: Not available

Fuel type: Unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 9.1 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions N/A

Greenhouse Rating: Not available
Air Pollution Rating: Not available

Five-year / 150,000 kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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