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by Tim Beissmann

The cult-classic Proton Satria GTi could make a surprise return to Australia in 2016.

Proton Australia chief operating officer Kaye Amies told CarAdvice the local division is in discussions with officials in Malaysia about resurrecting the Satria nameplate on its new city car – called Iriz in its home market – which is set to reach our shores around the middle of next year.

Amies said the decision to bring back the Satria badge or stick with the global Iriz moniker would hinge on the planned performance variant, which is due to be revealed in late 2015 and could make its way to Australia the following year.

She said the sporty model could be sold as a modern-day Satria GTi in our market, but insisted it would have to live up to the history of the badge.

“The Satria GTi… a lot of people remember that,” Amies started.

“We’re sort of thinking if we bring this car out, and then [an] R3 [sports variant launches] – they’re thinking that they might do a more racy version – because of that we’re thinking, ‘Should we be doing that or not?’

“The Satria GTi was such a well-known car and so many people wanted it. People still ask us have we got any.

“We’d need to look at it, see what it looks like, see what it’s going to do. Is it just going to be something that blows out through a little tailpipe and makes a lot of noise and does nothing, or is it actually going to be a bit sporty?”

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The old Satria GTi – last sold in Australia in 2005 – produced 103kW and 164Nm from its 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and accelerated from rest to 100km/h in 7.8 seconds.

The regular Proton Iriz is available in Malaysia with two four-cylinder petrol engines: a 70kW/120Nm 1.3-litre and an 80kW/150Nm 1.6-litre. The larger engine takes 11.1 seconds to propel the 3.9-metre city car to triple figures.

One potential option for the Iriz R3/Satria GTi could be the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine from the larger Suprima S hatch, which produces 103kW and 205Nm, and would cut the city car’s sprint time significantly.

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Amies said the Iriz name had raised some eyebrows in Australia, though she said she had no hesitations in using the global name if it was settled on for our market.

“It was a bit funny because a few people said, ‘Aww, it’s really a girl’s name, so it sort of makes it a girl’s car, doesn’t it?’ I said, ‘Do you think a Lotus Elise is a girl’s car?’

“We’re still having discussions with Malaysia in terms of what their thoughts are about it and all that. We’ll discuss it with them and try to come to some resolution, but we’ll wait to get Christmas over and done with first.”

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She said a decision on the name would most likely be made in January.

Amies confirmed the Iriz/Satria is currently being crash-tested by ANCAP, with results to be released in the new year. In Malaysia, the Iriz is available with electronic stability control, hill-start assist, six airbags (dual front, side and curtains), reverse-view camera and rear sensors.

Other specification highlights include 14- or 15-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, daytime running lights, keyless entry with push-button start, leather upholstery, and a four-speaker infotainment system with a 6.2-inch screen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, front and rear USB inputs, DVD player, satellite navigation and WiFi integration.




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