Proton new engine first firing

Proton has officially announced that it will be building a new range of engines to replace the ageing CamPro mills it has used since 2004. The new powertrains, as confirmed by chief technical officer Abdul Rashid Musa last year, will include direct injection and will be offered in both naturally-aspirated (GDI) and turbocharged (TGDI) forms, and is slated to enter production by the end of 2017.

The engines – costing a total of RM600 million to engineer – have been in development since last year, with engineers having been dispatched to the United Kingdom and engineering partners Ricardo and Lotus since March. In total, there are four different engine series being developed by Proton, with two three-cylinder engines and two four-cylinder mills.

The three-pots with variable valve timing (VVT) displace 1.0 litres and 1.2 litres respectively, while the inline-fours with direct injection (GDI/TGDI) are 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre units. The engines will come with Dual VVT, a timing chain, an integrated exhaust manifold and longer service intervals. In total, there will be six different engine variants which are:

  • 1.0 litre three-cylinder VVT
  • 1.2 litre three-cylinder VVT
  • 1.3 litre four-cylinder GDI
  • 1.5 litre four-cylinder GDI
  • 1.3 litre four-cylinder TGDI (turbo)
  • 1.5 litre four-cylinder TGDI (turbo)

Proton CEO Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah claims that the most powerful of them, the 1.5 TGDI, will produce as much as 180 hp and 250 Nm, while fuel savings are quoted at around 25% over the IrizVVT engines, themselves 15% more frugal than older CamPro engines.

The performance and fuel efficiency will be coupled to a new torque converter CVT automatic developed in parallel – rumours indicate that the transmission will be sourced by Jatco, after a booth belonging to the Japanese CVT specialist was spotted at the Alami Proton open day last year.

In total, the engines will cover the equivalent of 4.8 million km in testing. After that, the engines will make the trek back to Malaysia in September, where integration will take place before the end-2017 on-sale date. The engines are said to meet the most stringent emissions requirements in the world – including the upcoming Euro 6c regulations – and Proton hopes they will continue to be used well beyond 2020.

Why the UK? Well, the procurement of Petronas’ NE01 engine technology, including GDI and TGDI systems (remember, Proton procured the technology from Petronas in 2012), was shared between Petronas and Ricardo, so it makes sense for the national carmaker to continue with the arrangement.