After part 1 & 2, a lot of people approached me asking me what I thought of the R3 Neo, that is fine, I love talking about cars, I’m a petrolhead by profession so there’s no big deal with people approaching me about it. What really disturbed me was some people coming up and saying they agreed with me that the R3 Neo sucked and the original R3 Satria still is the best. Yes, I totally agree that the original R3 Satria is still the better car and the guys at R3 will also agree to that but what I don’t agree to is that the R3 Neo sucks.
In fact, I don’t remember saying that at all. Sure, I pointed out the shortcomings of the R3 Neo but I also said that the R3 Neo is a very tune-able car and a great entry car for the aspiring racer boy. So in this final installment of the R3 Neo series, we head off to the Proton test track to ultimately find out for ourselves what the R3 Neo is all about.
Images: Rambo / Cashy
Now the Proton test track is a great place to be especially when accompanied by people that earn their bread & butter by track work. Also accompanying the R3 Neo and us was the Neo track car used by T.Djan and Faidzil Alang in the MME race last year. Its simply gorgeous, it looks like a serious race car and if you ask me, R3 would have shifted Neo’s much faster than Proton would have taken to realize they are short on stock if they would have made the R3 Neo look as extreme as the track car. For us at zerotohundred, it was love at first sight, or maybe we were just racers in a previous incarnation.
We never drove the Neo track car for obvious reasons, moreover this article is about the R3 Neo, and so we were in familiar territory again. The same Recaro seats, MoMo steering wheel, same boss kit that makes you wish you had super long fingers and the same steering feel, great. The Proton test track is not one to be underestimated, the 45 degree banking gives you a weird G feeling, see I always felt G coming from the front and there was once I took a flight from L.A to Seattle seated with my back facing the cockpit and that resulted in the G’s being felt from the back, very weird I tell you but not as weird as feeling G’s on your head. It makes you feel like you’re suddenly falling sick and that your head is going to fall off at any minute, I now understand why F1 drivers have necks as thick as horses. The slalom course on the other hand is one huge open ring with at least a 500 meter straight; a drifters paradise.
So we put the R3 Neo through its phases, it performed well on the banking, gradually building up speed and then just sticking to its line on the banking once it exceeds 100km/h. I have to say; I kind of wish the interior of the R3 Neo would look different from the standard Neo because it deserves it. It already looks incredible and a distinctively R3 interior would have just been great, something to differentiate the losers from the winners, but of course, that would have meant a heftier price. Maybe we can expect that in a RM100k R3 car, that’s a hint.
We then headed to the slalom course, running the R3 Neo through cones and trying to defy the law of physics by trying to oversteer a front engined front wheel drive car. We succeeded, in failing that is, though the R3 Neo is quite a tail happy car, it doesn’t mean you can drift it through corners, it’s still fun though. We had R3 test driver Faidzil Alang do the driving while we stood at every corner trying to get the perfect shot. I almost got ran over a couple of times and my bosses would have had to pay my family a hefty sum if anything were to happen to me but their bank account was saved by the R3’s braking capabilities. Very impressive I must say, how the entire package seems to complement each other, great handling, great brakes for a Proton, and a impressive ride. I still must complain about the power though, but I guess we’re just a spoilt lot, having being blessed with faster cars, we expected the same of the R3 Neo but like fine wine, perfection comes with age and I’m confident that R3 will produce a car that will soon blow the world away.
So this is the part where I love my job the most, the final verdict. This is where I form the final picture of the car for all you readers out there and so here it goes. The R3 Neo is a very capable car, in no way is it just another Proton but it is a fun car in every aspect except for the engine department. A power hike is due and also an interior facelift would be great but other than that I can’t seem to find anything that is lacking. Please do keep in mind that I am comparing this car to every other one that has came out of the Proton factory and it would not be fair to compare it to other makes that compete globally, but if I were asked which car does the R3 Neo remind me of, it certainly has to be the Suzuki Swift Sport. It would have landed other more serious competitors if it featured more power but the Suzuki Swift Sport is already a great car but the R3 Neo could just surpass it with its pricing and branded materials, now we just have to keep our fingers crossed and be patient for more power from T.Djan and his crew of incredibles, its just a matter of time.
And for those of you who still doubt the capabilities and attraction of the R3 Neo, you should know that the first person to take delivery of the R3 Neo was a Japanese guy by the name of Hidekazu Misawa. Mr. Misawa is also a proud drifter with his choice of machine being the legendary AE86, apparently he and his friends who drive Skylines and such are huge fans of touge sessions in Japan with mountainous routes as their choice for play. For such a person to actually take interest in the R3 Neo, it speaks volumes for R3 and their baby.
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