Lotus influence ensures decent handling, but ride is too firm and it's noisy inside
Too little adjustment for driver to get comfortable, and front seats don't slide to aid rear access
Two airbags is your lot, and no deadlocks is a security weakness
Everything looks cheap, and dare we say it, a little tacky. The jury is out on reliability
Angle of windscreen ensures anyone in the front will feel cramped. Rear seats and boot are no better
Good standard kit includes climate control and alloy wheels, while Sport trim adds, you guessed it, sporty touches
The petrol engines need working hard to give their best. Lotus is involved with the tuning of the Satria Neo's handling, and it's pretty good, with sharp steering and very little lean around bends but this is no Lotus Elise. The ride is firm enough for passengers to feel the texture of every speed bump in town. It's a noisy experience too, thanks to a rough-sounding engine and too much road and wind noise reaching the cabin.
There's not much seat or steering adjustment, so if you're tall you might find it difficult to get comfortable at the wheel. The windscreen is so streamlined that there's very little headroom in the front whatever your height. It's cosy in the back, too, and getting in and out requires athleticism as the front seats don't slide. The dash is simple enough, but the position of the electric window buttons takes a while to get used to. Pack light as the boot is small.
Safety kit isn't impressive: side and curtain airbags and stability control don't even make the options list. An alarm is standard, but deadlocks aren't fitted.
While Proton is a budget brand, it's not giving the Satria Neo away, and it costs about as much as the vastly superior Suzuki Swift. Running costs will be higher for the Proton, too, while resale values are not at all impressive. Don't confuse rarity with exclusivity. At least there's plenty of standard equipment, including alloy wheels, MP3-compatible stereo and climate control.