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Greetings from the Matrade Exhibition & Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, where we’re reporting live from the launch of the Proton Suprima S, the national car maker’s latest model. By now, you’d undoubtedly have watched the unveiling ceremony for the car via our dedicated live video stream – now, it’s time for the launch report.

The Proton Suprima S – the name of which is derived from the English root word ‘supreme’ – arrives on the scene 16 months after the Preve sedan premiered, and the five-door C-segment hatchback makes its debut in only a single engine guise (in two variant forms, the Executive and Premium) at point of launch, this being the familiar CamPro 1.6 turbo.

UPDATE: We’ve driven the car – read our full review of the Proton Suprima S here.

The same mill equips the Premium version of the Preve, and makes it way on here without any revisions – the low-pressure turbocharged unit delivers identical 138 hp at 5,000 rpm and 205 Nm between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm output numbers.

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No sign of the normally-aspirated IAFM+ engine for the hatch – by the looks of it, Proton is targeting the Suprima S as a sportier offering, in keeping with the nature of the bodystyle. To cement that point, the ‘S’ suffix stands for Sport.

It’s therefore surprising to find that there’s no sign of the Getrag five-speed manual transmission on the car at this juncture, the CamPro unit being paired to the same seven-speed Punch VT3 CVT gearbox as fitted on the turbocharged Preve.

In terms of performance figures, the Suprima S has a 190 km/h top speed and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 9.9 seconds, while fuel consumption is rated at 9.1 litres per 100 km. In comparison, the equivalent turbocharged Preve has a quoted 200 km/h top speed and 0-100 km/h time of 9.6 seconds, as well as a 8.2 litres per 100 km combined cycle fuel consumption.

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Much of this can be explained by the kerb weight of the Suprima S, which is 1,375 kg for the Executive and 1,395 kg for the Premium. Essentially, the hatch is slightly heavier than the 1.6 Premium CFE Preve, which tips the scales at 1,340 kg.

Other numbers for the hatch are overall dimensions that measure in at 4,436 mm long, 1,786 mm wide and 1,524 mm tall, with a 2,650 mm long wheelbase (front overhang 918 mm, rear 868 mm) and a ground clearance of 155 mm. Both the front and rear track are the same at 1,542 mm each.

Aside from the length, these figures for the Suprima S are exactly identical to that of the Preve sedan. The Preve is longer by 107 mm, measuring in at 4,543 mm, the lack of a tail in the Suprima S obviously trimming the length.

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Design-wise, the Suprima S has a visually tauter front end compared to its Preve sibling, the Proton Wings-inspired face displaying a new black honeycomb grille and new inserts for the bumper; the fog lamp surround on the left continues to be an intake point, feeding air to the intercooler.

Both variants have projector headlamps, the Executive’s coming with a LED position lamp (similar to the Preve) while the Premium’s shod with brighter DRLs. Other elements include an angular design rear lamp cluster with a LED light guide strip and a roof spoiler that both extends the roofline and improves airflow and aerodynamics.

Elsewhere, a Turbo badge finds its way on to the left section of the rear bootlid, as does a ‘Handling by Lotus’ badge, first seen on the Satria GTI more than a decade ago.

Speaking of the boot, usable luggage space is 309 litres by ISO, or VDA measurement volume, and 427 litres in total, loaded to the rear parcel shelf. Conversely, the Preve has a 506 litre boot.

New wheels complete the look, with the Premium featuring 17-inch units (with 215/45 profile tyres) and the Executive, 16-inch ones wrapped with 205/55 rubbers. The design is the same for both – seven double-spoke alloys in a titanium finish on the inside and a brilliant diamond cut on the wheel face. At launch time, the tyres that were installed from the car were sourced from Achilles.

As for the interior, things don’t veer far from that as seen in the Preve – the familiar fascia layout has been retained, though trim material choices are different. New elements include cubic-print dashboard/door highlights in a shade called Tempest Grey (on the Preve, dark brown for the Turbo, and silver on the IAFM+) and high-gloss piano accents for the steering wheel and gear knob.

In terms of equipment, common items to both variants include an Android-based Proton Infotainment System consisting of a seven-inch LCD screen DVD player with GPS navigation and Bluetooth/USB/iPod connectivity, paired to four speakers in the Executive and six speakers in the Premium (two are A-pillar mounted tweeters).

The system offers Wi-Fi connectivity off a mobile phone or portable hotspot, allowing Internet on the go, though for safety reasons the DVD player and Wi-Fi-based browsing can only be accessed when the handbrake is engaged. The GPS software installed in the unit is sourced from TM’s Lokatoo, with the unit getting GPS reception from the bee sting antenna on the roof of the car.

We were told the player runs on a pre-ICS version of Android, which could either mean Honeycomb if the OS is a tablet version, or Gingerbread if it’s the phone version. The system is a modified ‘locked down’ version with no ability to add your own apps, though we expect geeks will possibly figure out how to root the device.

Also standard fit are driver’s seat manual height adjustment, remote tailgate release, steering wheel audio controls, front fog lamps, tinted windows and rear parking sensors. The Suprima S features a rear fog lamp centrally located on the diffuser, bringing the car up to ECE Regulation 48 compliance.

The Premium variant adds on front sensors as well as Anthracite-shade leather for the seats (fabric on the Executive), door trim and steering wheel. It also comes equipped with paddle shifters, auto AC, cruise control, auto headlamp and wiper activation, a reverse camera and push-start ignition. Elsewhere, the side mirrors are electronically foldable units.

We’re yet to experience the car’s ride and handling, which we will get to do so at an upcoming drive soon, but the advent of the Suprima S also marks a return to a ‘Handling by Lotus’ catchword. The Preve – and Inspira – had earlier seen a departure from that with a move towards a ‘Proton Ride & Handling’ approach, so it’d really be interesting to see what this suggests beyond the tagline revision.

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Otherwise, the suspension consists of front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink with stabiliser bar. The power steering continues to be a hydraulic type.

Safety kit for the five-star ANCAP-rated Suprima S consists of ABS with EBD, brake assist, electronic stability control (ESC), traction control and two rear Isofix mounts. Both Suprima S variants are equipped with six airbags (front, side, curtain) – it’s the first Proton to be sold here to have such a number. The Premium model adds hill-hold assist and electronic gear shift lock to the list.

Five colours are available for the Proton Suprima S, these being Atlantic Blue, Fire Red, Genetic Silver, Tranquility Black and Solid White. Like the Preve, the Suprima S is due to make its way to export markets – the word on the grapevine is the hatch will debut in Thailand and Indonesia before the year is out.

Pricing-wise, the on-the-road selling price for the Proton Suprima S – which comes with a five-year warranty and five-year free road assist programme – is as follows:

  • Proton Suprima S 1.6 Executive (metallic) RM76,688
  • Proton Suprima S 1.6 Executive (solid) RM76,338
  • Proton Suprima S 1.6 Premium (metallic) RM79,988
  • Proton Suprima S 1.6 Premium (solid) RM79,638

We’ve driven the car – read our full review of the Proton Suprima S here.