Well, look what we have here – reader Max Pang has sent us images of a Suzuki Vitara being parked near Sports Arena Cyberjaya. This is a significant sighting because Suzuki has already stopped sales of its vehicles here as part of its joint venture with Proton, and the mule – which has had its badges taped up – sports Selangor trade plates that typically adorn Proton’s prototypes.

If you’re wondering why the national carmaker is still working with Suzuki on a new model even as it is on the verge of being acquired by Geely, well, your guess is as good as ours. For what it’s worth, however, chairman Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar has previously said that it will honour all existing partnerships (with Honda for the Accord-based Perdana and Suzuki for the Ertiga-based, er, Ertiga) until they run out.

There is some logic behind readying a Proton-badged Vitara – while the company is working on a new SUV based on the Geely Boyue, that car is still a year away at least. Before then, Proton will have no new product beyond incremental updates to existing models, like the one already applied to the Iriz this year.

What’s more, a smaller crossover like the Vitara would allow Proton to tap into the cheaper, more lucrative B-segment SUV market occupied by the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and upcoming Toyota C-HR – and, crucially, do so before Perodua enters the scene, as the latter has already hinted at doing.

Aside from the aforementioned covered-up emblems, the Vitara shown here is identical to the one sold elsewhere, following the template set by the Proton Ertiga. With limited changes from the original, Proton would be able to quickly roll out its own version to give its current lineup a much needed leg-up. Of course, this is all just pure speculation, and we’ll need to wait for official details to know for sure.

It should be noted that this Vitara is the global model, rather than the smaller, more barebones Vitara Brezza sold in India. If a Proton Vitara does end up coming to fruition, expect it to come with the proven 118 hp/156 Nm M16A 1.6 litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

What do you think of a Proton Vitara SUV? Sound off in the comments after the jump.

GALLERY: Suzuki Vitara