Protons R3 Shuts its Doors…

…and turns the lights off for one final time this week. Automologist MAC mourns its passing.  

In the automotive world, the passing of R3 may go virtually unnoticed. But for us in Malaysia who have been a part of the Malaysian tuning or race scene or automotive supply chain, it is a sad and poignant event. Born in 2004, R3 was intended to be Malaysia’s first real indigenous tuning house, sort of AMG on a budget. Much of its early work was based on the Proton Satria, which resulted in the really very capable pocket rocket known as the Satria R3, a car that was nimble on the road and a weapon on the track.

The R3 Satria, so good they even made a scale model of it!

Of late though, there was also the very capable Suprima S which managed to qualify on the front row of the Sepang 1000km race and left the much fancied Honda Racing team trailing in their wake.

I guess being owned by an automaker that was having its own share of problems resulted in the project being underfunded or under-loved for much of its existence, but it did give us events such as the Street Shootout and the Autocross series, both of which should have become so very much bigger and better than they were, if only if there had been a greater focus on it by Proton HQ, perhaps.

Proton of course took ownership of Lotus when Bugatti failed there in 1994, and you might think that having one boutique tuning house should have been enough for Proton. But R3 was much more the everyman’s version of a tuning house, tasked with taking everyday saloon and hatchbacks from a mass manufacturer and making them exciting.

For much of the time, our old friend Tengku Djan Ley was involved with R3, and I am sure he will be lamenting the end of something that he held dear for so long. However, with the financial troubles that Proton has had for the past few years and with the recent Geely take-over, the writing must have been on the wall.

Read also: What’s next for Proton-Geely?

I wonder if we can persuade Geely to keep the name alive and come up with the R3 performance model in the future?

File photo: Tengku Djan
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