Yes, we finally get the keys to test drive the Proton X70 (the premium 2WD model). The biggest automotive noise of 2019 and we are late to take it out as we wanted to see how the new Proton management viewed the Malaysian media. With the revival of the Proton brand, its new owners Geely had a marketing team in Malaysia that only wanted ‘sugar coated’ reviews. Which means, the marketing team decided how much and where to spend their advertising Ringgit to get the best and most effective positive (sugar coated) reviews.
And if you observed all the Proton X70 video based reviews done by numerous online portals and youtube ‘key opinion leaders’ till today, you will notice that almost 90% of the video reviews are on the ‘talking’ “Hi! Proton” system and little else on the drive impressions or the interior of the X70.
The ‘talking car’ has been the main selling point and the key sugar coating that the marketing team wanted and it has paid of very well with sales numbers hitting high at 2,500 plus units a month against its rivals from Japan and Korea who are selling less than half that volume.
Well, we are here to share with you our test drive review of the vehicle and NOT the infamous Hi! Proton system that already has enough ‘sugar’ on it that it is heading for a diabetic mission.
Proton X70 Segment
The most active segment in the motoring sector in recent years has been the compact SUV segment. Marketed to excite car consumer into thinking they ‘need’ a 4×4 drivetrain and or a high driving position, this segment has seen the spawn of many car based SUV’s coming into our local showrooms with pricing very close to passenger cars of similar size. So, you get more metal for your money and you sit high allowing you to take on frequent inner city floods and uneven roads in our cities.
Proton X70 Visual Appeal
Well we are here not to convince you against buying a SUV but more to highlight what is on offer at a price that will not hurt you. Few things should be considered when you want a compact SUV and don’t want to spend a lot of money, either buy a secondhand luxury brand SUV or buy a new Proton X70. This X70 is a slick, well groomed SUV that has been designed to excite buyers from the showroom floor as it carries a very European design language with in-cabin features to surprise the average car buyer. “Hi! Proton” is the biggest crowd puller and even kids are entertained by it…..but for how long.
Proton X70 Cabin
There is ample space in the rear for five, ISOFIX points allow for 2 child seats with space for an adult in the middle. Legroom in the rear is also good and you get a/c vents with an air purifier. Luggage room seems a little sparse as the floor height is high due to to the full sized space saver tire under the floor. Malaysians in this price segment will NOT accept a tire repair kit and insist they should get a full sized space saver spare tire. Question? how many of you (especially women) will be able to remove and carry that large full size space spare tire? Even we will find it heavy.
Up front, you get two electric seats and the front passenger seat has electric buttons on its right side shoulder for the rear passenger to move the seat. This is a feature we first saw in the Toyota Camry. Good to have if you are chauffeur driven and not when you have fidgety kids in the rear.
The full length glass roof is great to have initially, but on our hot afternoons, even with the shade closed, you can feel the rays coming in. Still, the climate control system is very good.
The infotainment system is easy to use but if you have more than one kid in the X70, get ready for a barrage of requests and the system will get ‘tired’ and the driver irritated. Best to switch the system off or ‘whack’ your kids into submission as the driver can get distracted and or angry and road rage could be next. Otherwise, it is useful and fun system to have when alone in the X70. The Baidu delivered navigation is quick to react and the turn warnings very accurate.
Proton X70 Drive Effect
From ignition, this X70 is refined and quite impressive for what you pay. It is well insulated allowing for little road noise to come in and equipped with a long list of equipment.
Around our badly maintained Petaling Jaya roads this X70 still rides so well. The suspension set up is a good deal more sophisticated than the rather rudimentary configurations found on some of its rivals and offers car-like levels of comfort. The X70 uses dampers with the ‘right’ damping to address the problem of excessive body-roll in corners with some success while an accurate power-steering system delivers sharp steering responses for the driver.
This version of the X70 operates in front-wheel drive mode and you will find the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine more than adequate. With 184bhp on tap at 5,500rpm the engine does not feel out of breath on the highway at legal speeds. Peak power is at 285Nm and arrives at 1,700rpm.
Engine refinement isn’t the best, but the good news is that the powerplant sounds reasonably purposeful. It’s also surprisingly brisk in a straight line, allowing the X70 to reach 100km/h from rest in about 10.0 seconds and running along to a top speed of 180km/h.
Proton X70 Conclusion
This X70 shows its best light underlining its sensible pricing and generous equipment levels. Buying a modern compact SUV need not be an expensive anymore as Proton has returned to its glory days of the 1990s when it served Malaysians well built, well designed and well priced transportation machines. A time when Protons were rebadged and rebadging is what Malaysians really want.
Proton X70 1.8TGDI Specifications
Engine: Petrol Turbocharged Direct Injection
Power: 184bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 285Nm @ 1700-4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed with manual mode
Top speed: 180km/h as tested