It’s here. Finally. After more than a month’s wait. Was it worth the wait?

Here it is guys. Collected my car with much butterflies in the stomach and excitement a 3-year old would demonstrate when given an ice-cream. Really cannot explain how a car can have such an effect on the full grown men. But then again, many at ZTH would probably react the same way :) Faisal, of R3 Marketing, was there to ensure everything went to plan (that’s customer service for ya, folks!) and of course my SA – Affandy was present to assist me with checking before official handing-over. No major issues except that the carbon fibre spoiler has been temporarily replaced with a PU GTi version. Faisal explained that there was a quality issue and a new, better vendor has been assigned to develop the replacements. An official letter from R3 was issued to inform buyers of the situation. A replacement would be available sometime in January. And oh, nice R3 cap Faisal, thanks!

First impressions? It’s quite preliminary, since I’ve only deflowered it for 100km. Actually I don’t think I’ve officially deflowered it yet. Here goes nothing:

Exterior
I am pretty neutral about the styling. I like its subtlety. And it actually looks better in the flesh. This car has presence. No doubt about that. The Advanti rims, wrapped in Yoko rubber look the business, and I really do not mind the red + white decal too. The R3 badges are nice, and I’ll be sure to guard them with my life, since they are rare and according to Faisal expensive to make because of its short run. I have minor qualms about the fitting of the spoiler, and one of the R3 strips on the side. Other than that, top job.

Interior
I love the Recaro SR4 seats. Snuggly and tight. However, one complain would be that I think it sits too high. Especially for a 6ft 2-incher like me. It would have been super if it was just a tad lower. The MOMO Tuner steering is nice although I do miss my MOMO Race somewhat. I also like the carbon fibre knob. Not quite MOMO Air Leather, but nice feel. The R3 carpets are nice, and the red door and seat trimmings are ok. Pretty neutral on that. I just wished the dashboard panels were carbon fibre, even faux carbon fibre would do. But that isn’t really a complaint, just a thought.

The fittings are pretty tight, no squeaks or rattles although I did notice a slight rattle on my right speaker when the bass pumps (which is not much, from the Clarion head unit). The dreaded usually useless coin box is still flimsy. You would think that after 20 years in the business, Proton would get that right, but no they didn’t. It did fit snuggly back in place after some coercion though. I suggest removing the damn thing from the dashboard mould altogether. Nobody uses it anyway.

One thing I dislike are the pedals. Yes, they are GTi ones. But they are awfully small. And they feel light and aluminium-ish. Also, no thanks to my size 11 feet! One of my first mods would be to replace them with Sparco Carbons. I also think the clutch pedal rides too high. Way higher than my 1.8 Persona and a Putra I recently tested. I’ll get the SC to adjust the pedal-height on my 1,000km service, if that’s even possible. Just feels plain wierd. And thanks to the overly high clutch, an embarrassing incident entailed at the lights at Bangsar Shopping Complex. Engine stalled as I released the clutch. Hmm. Not good. Haha.

The cabin is surprisingly quiet, despite the fact that some sound dampening have been removed.

One thing left out I feel is the V-Kool tinting on the SGTi. The exclusion means forking out even more money – for slightly more comfort and security. Drats. A thumbs down here.

Performance
I’m running it in gently, despite claims by a certain Motoman, so no revving above 3,000rpm. At least not until I hit the 1,000km mark. Despite that fact, low-end torque is good. I can feel the poke as low as 2,000rpm. The short-throw gearbox is nice, although still quite ‘stiff’ I must say. Will know when it’s properly run-in. But you know what? The SR3 just begs to be driven fast. I have to remind myself constantly to keep the revs down. Temptation, tempation, temptation. Grr.

The handling? Spot on! If there’s one thing the R3 engineers got right, its the suspension. Supple yet firm, the ride is superb and it really exudes confidence at corners. I prefer something stiffer personally, however, no complaints about ride or handling. This car is sorted. Really. Steering feel is good – very point-and-steer. I have yet to properly test the brakes, as I’d like to run them in gently, at least for another week or so. One quirk is that my brakes are squeaking – both the front ones. It has demonstrated some rather impressive Mariah Carey-shaming high-pitched squeals, even at low speeds. Must get this rectified.

The exhaust has a bassy note at idle and it isn’t overly vocal when revved. Then again, the opportunity to really put the car through its paces will not surface till later, hence I cannot comment on the aural personality of the SR3 at present.

Summary – The Good
It’s a day old. I’ve driven it for 100kms. I love it. It’s an addictive car, I have to stress. I’m still getting to know it, still stroking it gently, embracing it. I love the engine bay, the anodised metal bits, the personalised serial number on the cam cover. Good stuff. I love the handling and the ride. I love the SR4 and how they hold me in place. I like the subtle styling and the Incognito Black.

Summary – The Bad
Seats sit too high. Pedals too tiny and flimsy almost. Clutch pedal too high. Coin box still cheap and flimsy. Slight rattle on right speaker. Squeaky, squealing front brakes. No V-Kool tinting.

Well, that’s it. A first-hand account of the M24 R3 LEV in action – virginal yet hot. More reports will come as the run-in period progresses. In the meantime, LET’S DRIVE!

Oh, btw – check the cat-bypass pipe :) Naughty!

Originally posted on the v.blog