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What Car? says

1 out of 5 stars

For Dependable transport, and well equipped at top of range

Against Lacklustre drive, cramped cabin, cheap build

Verdict The GTi is worth considering, but ignore the rest

Go for… GTi

Avoid… 1.3-litre petrol

Proton Satria Hatchback
  • 1. Head gaskets can fail, but cases of this are few and far between
  • 2. Check the underside of the engine filler cap for water or white residue, and for oil in the coolant
  • 3. Make sure that all the electrical switches and air-con work properly
  • 4. The materials in the cabin are poor quality, and the cabin finish is so-so
  • 5. The boot is adequate for a car of this size, but not class-leading
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Proton Satria Hatchback full review with expert trade views

You’d have to have some unerring love of Protons to even consider buying this car, because the Satria is substandard in just about every way.

The handling offers little in the way of entertainment, although it's safe enough, while the ride is crashy and restless. Refinement isn’t great, either: both engines are noisy at anything other than idle, and road and wind noise is a pain.

The materials used in the cabin are poor in quality, and the cabin finish is so-so. Space is cramped in the rear, too.

That said, the GTi version is perhaps worth a look. The chassis was tuned by Lotus, so the handling of the basic car was much improved. It's actually really good fun, and the ride isn’t bad, either.

It isn’t quite as quick as some other hot hatches, but it still takes less than eight seconds to hit 60mph from a standing start. And, it’s cheap and quite well equipped, too.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Few used ones around (thankfully). Cheap A to B transport. GTi quick but tacky

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The 133bhp GTi is our pick. While it has many of the same limitations as the standard car, it’s much, much better to drive. Alloy wheels, air-con, metallic paint and a CD player are all standard, too.

As for the rest of the range, the 1.3-litre petrol only has 74bhp, and doesn’t quite feel up to the job. The 1.5 has a little more power, but there isn’t much in it. Both need to be worked hard to make decent - if noisy - progress.

The base Li models have power steering and not much else, whereas the LXi adds a sunroof and, on later cars, electric front windows. Lux has air-con, alloy wheels and seat height adjustment, but the automatic transmission that also comes as standard with this trim makes the Satria’s performance even more laboured.

Safety kit is woefully inadequate. All models get a driver's airbag only, and anti-lock brakes are only standard on the GTi.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Struggles on forecourt, 1.3 Li may sell as a cheapy three-door hatch only

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Satria was fairly cheap when it was new, and by the time used examples hit the market, they’re worth very little indeed. Even the newest can be picked up for a song.

Fuel economy is pretty mediocre, though. The 1.3 gives an average of around 34mpg, while the 1.5 is similar. With the automatic gearbox, the 1.5 will only manage around 31mpg. The GTi delivers 32mpg, but that’s not too bad in comparison to the others, given its performance.

Insurance costs, for some inexplicable reason, are quite high. Even the 1.3 is group 9, the 1.5 is group 11, and the GTi sits in group 16. These are steep for the class, especially when you consider the budget price, the relatively low power outputs and the lack of desirability to thieves.

Servicing isn’t cheap, either. You’ll pay more to maintain your Proton than you will to keep most mainstream brands in good order.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Few used ones around (thankfully). Cheap A to B transport. GTi quick but tacky

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

One thing in the Satria’s favour is that it's quite reliable, despite its shoddy build quality and cheap materials.

The most likely source of an expensive repair is a head gasket failure, although cases of this are few and far between. However, it has been known to affect even the newest examples, so check the underside of the engine filler cap for water or white residue, and for oil in the coolant. Any sign of these is a warning that head gasket trouble is coming.

The Satria can also have problems with its electrics and air-conditioning system. Make sure that all the electrical gizmos (not that there will be that many, mind you, given the low level of equipment) work properly, and that warning lights don’t come on for no reason. See that the air-con gets as cold as it should, and examine the pipework under the bonnet for signs of corrosion.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Struggles on forecourt, 1.3 Li may sell as a cheapy three-door hatch only

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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