Ever wondered what an SUV or crossover version of an existing Proton model, such as the Suprima S, would look like? That’s exactly what local designer Saharudin Busri has envisioned – a more rugged version of the national carmaker’s C-segment hatchback, called the Suprima X.

In case you didn’t know, Saharudin is the head of industrial design at MIMOS, the national research and development centre in information and communications technology (ICT) and a strategic agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). He was actually working in Proton’s styling department until 2007, so he does have an insight into the company’s design process.

“Like many other Malaysians, I want to see Proton produce more attractive models. In terms of design, they should be in line with the developments of the market. Although the design was developed under my own capacity, I see it as a small contribution as a designer visualising the design of future Proton models through my own perspective,” said Saharudin.

But there’s another reason why Saharudin is producing car designs and renders, especially those that are Proton-badged. Previously, MIMOS only produced industrial designs as part of the projects it was tasked with, but it is now offering design consultancy as a standalone service, including for the automotive industry.

“Indirectly, we want to show that MIMOS also has in-house expertise in terms of automotive design,” he said. However, the agency has yet to have any official discussions with Malaysian carmakers to design vehicles for production.

Why did Saharudin use a Suprima S as a basis for the transformation? “This is because, in my view, the Suprima S is unique, with a sophisticated, sporty look. What I did was explore the car’s potential, in order to increase the options or variants that can be derived from it, at least in terms of design,” he said.

The design of the Suprima X isn’t new for Saharudin – the basic design has been around since 2015, and has now been refined. It was inspired by the innovative designs of compact SUV and crossover offerings from other manufacturers, which have cropped up in recent years.

“We used as an example the Honda HR-V and other similar models that have been so successful, especially in Malaysia. I imagined that building an all-new model would be too costly, so in terms of design, I felt that the Suprima S had its own strengths which could be developed into an SUV or crossover,” he said.

The result is the car that you see in these teaser images. The basic design of the Suprima S is still there, but the roofline has been raised, as has the ground clearance. The front fascia has also been redesigned, with slimmer, shapelier headlights and Y-shaped daytime running lights that flow into the bolder dual-bar grille.

Meanwhile, the tail lights are now two-piece items, similar to the Prevé on which the Suprima S is based, while the front and rear bumpers have been redesigned for a more aggressive look, with silver underbody guards that give the car a SUV-like look – one that is emphasised by the use of black plastic cladding throughout. Large ten-spoke alloy wheels, in a similar design to the Iriz, complete the look.

It should be noted at this point that Proton itself has toyed around with a more rugged version of the Suprima. A concept called the Suprima Active was showcased last May, although that was a subtler redesign that added body mouldings, roof rails and orange highlights to a standard Suprima S body.

This is not the first time MIMOS has been involved in automotive design – last year, the agency revealed the C-Concept, a sedan designed in collaboration with Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Mara, as well as Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, Thailand. Prior to that, it showed a Perodua-badged compact hatch that was submitted for consideration for the 2016 Red Dot Design Awards.

So, what do you think of the Suprima X? Should it become a reality as a production vehicle to be sold to the public? Our Bahasa Malaysia colleagues saw plenty of other designs – including the full design of this car – that were shown off by Saharudin during their visit last week, and we will have more on these soon.