10 years ago, the Proton Suprima S was launched - P1's biggest missed opportunity?
CY Foong · Aug 17, 2023 02:40 PM
Today is the 10th anniversary of one of Proton’s most unfulfilled models of its 40 years of existence, the Proton Suprima S. Alongside the Proton Preve, both were billed as P1’s “global” models with some design input from Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro but underdelivered with the Suprima S only sold for 6 years.
But there were plenty of high hopes when the Suprima S was unveiled on 17-August 2013 at the MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC). Spyshots of the hatchback which was given the codename P3-22A were picked up by every Malaysian automotive media so the hype was certainly there.
When the Suprima S was unveiled a decade ago today, it was better equipped than its sedan counterpart, the Preve. For instance, the Android OS-powered Proton Infotainment System and 6 airbags came as standard.
Two variants were offered, Executive and Premium with the latter being the higher spec of the two. Features exclusive to the Suprima S Premium include Anthracite-shade leather seats, front parking sensors, a reverse camera, LED DRLs, automatic headlights and wipers, as well as paddle shifters.
Only one powertrain was offered, a turbocharged 1.6-litre CamPro engine that made 138 PS and 205 Nm which was paired with a Punch CVT automatic gearbox. No manual transmission was ever offered to the Suprima S which is really a shame given that it’s a sporty-looking 5-door hatchback with Lotus ride and handling.
Priced at RM 76,338 for the Executive and RM 79,888 for the Premium (~RM 93k and ~RM 97k respectively in 2023), the Suprima S is propositioned as being “fully loaded with built-in value” though it is primarily for export markets. Proton only targeted 750 units every month domestically though its first month of sales saw 835 units sold.
"Global" car, take 2
The Suprima S was exported to Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, and Australia. Just like the Preve, the Suprima S also received a full 5-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
The hatchback was also planned to be exported to the United Kingdom by 2014 with a few units brought over and registered for evaluation. Unfortunately, this was short-lived as Proton would eventually pull out from the British market two years later in 2016.
Also cancelled was the performance-oriented Proton Suprima S R3 though there was the Suprima S Super Premium which was fitted with an R3 bodykit and 17-inch lightweight R3 wheels. That R3 variant could’ve been an exciting addition but things weren't looking great for Proton at the time.
The Suprima S also saw a cheaper base variant introduced in December 2014 called the Standard which was priced at around RM 70,000 (~RM 82k in 2023). It was only offered with 2 airbags and didn't come with ESC.
Yet, sales of the Suprima S continued to slide. In 2015, 914 units of the hatchback were sold in Malaysia but in the first half of 2016, only 110 units were sold. Things weren’t looking great overseas too despite Proton aiming for the bulk of sales to be from export markets.
Between 2015 and H1 2016, 83 units of the Suprima S were sold in Indonesia, 60 units were sold in Australia, and an abysmal 10 were sold in Thailand. Eventually, Proton would pull out of these markets entirely in the next few years.
At home, the Suprima S received some praise, especially on the ride and handling but everything else, particularly build quality, was heavily criticised. Down Under, Drive Australia gave the Suprima S six stars out of ten commending on the value but was critical on the fuel economy and lacklustre power delivery.
In 2019, Proton decided to discontinue the Suprima S after being on sale for 6 years with no replacement though an update was rumoured. The Suprima S didn’t live up to its potential despite being the sporty variant of the Preve and one that was supposed to steer Proton’s export markets.
However, being a somewhat rare Proton, the Suprima S is gaining some appreciation in Malaysia. In motorsports, the Suprima S was the overall winner in the Sepang 1000 KM endurance race in 2016 and 2017 while a customised Suprima S represented Malaysia in the 2022 Hot Wheels Legends Tour.
Whether it would be a future classic like some of Proton’s other flops like the Juara and Arena remains to be seen but used ones can be found online for as low as RM 20,000. We have a handy guide on what to look out for below.