Autocar UK is the first with a photo of Proton’s new concept car designed by Italian design house Italdesign-Giugiaro. The vehicle looks like a supermini with a tallish roofline, and according to Autocar it is about 3,350mm long – that’s a good 360mm shorter than the Proton Savvy. There is no attempt to look space age with ultra curvy rooflines that hurt rear passenger room – this is clearly a design that’s quite suited to go into production with some minor modifications.

The concept car will showcase a series hybrid powertrain that works much like the system that Chevrolet is using for the Volt. It uses an internal combustion engine fitted at the front that runs in an efficient powerband to recharge lithium ion batteries. These batteries then power and electric motor that drives the car. From what I can understand from the Autocar story, the internal combustion engine does not power the wheels directly. The car’s platform is a new platform that’s designed to accomodate all the necessary hybrid drive elements such as batteries in a space efficient and safe way.

Lotus had previously showcased such a system at the Frankfurt 2009 show so given Proton’s obvious connections to Lotus, the powertrain in this concept car might just be one and the same. Or it might not – we’ll have to wait for official details to find out. The Lotus Range Extender system uses a 1.2 litre 3-cylinder single cam 4 valves per cylinder engine that weighs only 56kg dry and is optimized for 2 RPM points – 20hp at 1,500rpm and 47hp at 3,500rpm. Peak torque is 107Nm at 2,500rpm.

Word is that Proton will be sending some journalists to Geneva because of this car. If Proton wants to maximize the value of the air tickets and accommodation for these journos, those lucky guys might even get to drive the car, if it is a running concept using the Lotus engine. That would definitely generate more buzz and get Proton more coverage in international publications.

As for us, we are still completely in the dark about this concept car other than whatever Autocar UK has revealed now, so we hope to bring you confirmed facts as soon as Proton says something, hopefully today!