Satria R3 Stage 2 review

From the start, the performance-bred, track day special Satria R3 developed exclusively by Proton Motorsports a.k.a Race Rally Research or R3 for short, had always promised and delivered an engaging ride – a no-frills, no nonsense driving experience. With its reinforced, rally-style spot-welded chassis and finely tuned suspension, the SR3 oozed confidence in and out of corners, being absolutely at home on twisty, windy roads.

The communicative chassis was always eager to please, to be pushed to the limit. So much so in fact, that it almost needed that extra torque and horsepower to realise its true potential.

Enter Stage 2.

As promised, R3 is offering Stage 2 performance hop-up kits and components for not limited to Satria R3 owners, but also to the Gen.2, Wira 1.3/1.5/1.6, Satria GTi/Putra/Wira 1.8 and the Waja. Covering powertrain, drivetrain/suspension and styling components, Stage 2 offers even more power, and even better ride and handling.

Stage 2 Engine Upgrade
Despite having 120bhp at the wheels in stock form, the SR3 lacks depth in low-end, much like its SGTi brethren. Power only comes in at 4,000rpm, before pulling strongly to 6,500rpm. The Aussie-sourced but R3-spec regrind high torque Stage 2 cams, on the other hand, show a different side of the 4G93 lump. A much more intense, darker side that is. Coupled with a pair of intake and exhaust pulleys, the cams give the SR3 a much-welcomed boost in the low to mid range. My SR3, kudos to expert tuning by R3 engineers, drive 136bhp to the wheels. That’s a huge gain in power over stock, merely with a cam and pulley upgrade.

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Power delivery is very, very linear and starts as low as 2,500rpm. From then on, it pulls and pulls till 7,300rpm! There seems to be an extra spike of power at 6,000rpm, and the obvious intake roar rewards you – not quite VTEC; subtle but no less addictive – an indication of how willing to please the venerable 4G93 lump has become. The spread of torque is pretty amazing. A brief test on the NPE brought me to 200km/h in 4th gear, at 7,000rpm with still some torque to spare. Upshifting to fifth saw 210km/h easily on the speedo. Impressive.

I am eager to post some figures especially 0-160km/h and 100-200km/h times.

Power and torque is addictive, and certainly makes a huge difference in everyday driving. Unnecessary to feed it too much revs now, as the torque in low-end is sufficient to easily power the car from standstill or low speeds. On long distance drives, you almost need an additional gear because it still feels torquey running in fifth at 150km/h.

Stage 2 Suspension Components
In addition to the engine upgrade components, R3 had sponsored the Stage 2 lower arm bushes and bumpsteer kit. A 4-point lower arm brace is in the works, and will be installed when it is available. It’s pretty amazing how much difference changing 7 bushes can make. As experienced first-hand during the recent SSO (Street ShootOut), the car is very sensitive to steering input, throttle modulation, braking and weight transfer. The steering is communicative at all times, with excellent feel all-round. I loved how I needed to minutely apply lock during slaloms and the car would tuck in neatly. The feel is so direct that, I found myself just too numb, almost beginner-like, when handling the car. The tail-happy nature of the Stage 2 SR3, as what Stan described as “probably the most oversteery FF car he has driven”, is a welcome feature, especially in tight turns like in autocrosses and autokhanas. Throw it into a corner, left foot brake and/or yank the handbrake, and the car would oblige with a neat 180, without complaint.

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On the road, the car oozes confidence and is very planted. The bumpsteer kit really helps on undulating road surfaces, and if you are Malaysian (or have been driving in Malaysia), you would know that it’s pothole-laden, sometimes uneven in many stretches. Drive it fast and hard and it will consistently feed you with input and compliance. The wonderful thing about it is that it can be ‘naughty’, if you want it to.

Ultimate hot hatch? Hmm…close, very close…
It’s a very engaging car, the Stage 2 Satria R3. Perhaps this should have been the stock Satria R3 from the start. That may have silenced the critics who were not convinced of its performance. It may not be THE ultimate hot hatch, but it is, in Stage 2 form, I believe, the hottest handling, most affordable performance hot hatch, in the market today.

Want more from your SR3? You know what to do.


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