We’ve covered the Proton X70 extensively since its launch so we thought we’d approach our latest test drive differently. This time, we’re looking at the results… Sure it’s good value for money, but there’s more to it than that. This car has shaken the entire industry up and turned the brand’s fortunes around. And, no, we don’t think the ‘Hi Proton’ voice feature has anything to do with the car’s appeal. Here’s what we mean

Proton X70 Brown Side view

1. An almost premium experience

First of all, the X70 is a Geely-built product, and this is a company that nears Volvo’s production quality. It was conceptualised when Volvo first entered the Geely Auto Group. While the X70 doesn’t share too many mechanical components with other Volvos, you can see a few shared parts. Plus, can feel the influence the Swedes had on the product. It looks and feels like a premium product, thus it threatens SUVs with premium badges.

Infinite weave Proton X70

The only thing missing is the right badge for most non-owners

After all, the X70 costs a third as much as your typical premium European SUV but it delivers close to the same experience behind the wheel.

Proton X70 Augmented Reality 360 Camera

Proton X70 Digital Instrument Cluster

The chassis is excellent, the engine and gearbox are competent, and the build quality and material choice is faultless. It may not have the flair of something genuinely premium and it may have the wrong badge.

Proton X70 Panoramic Sunroof

The kind of sunroof you get in upmarket vehicles

But beyond those things, there are concerns addressed here that normally allude mass market manufacturers. Features are present here or implemented in a way that normally would cost the customer much more money.

Proton X70 rear air vents and purifier

Not just a rear blower, but an air purifier as well

2. Beating its competitors spec-for-spec

Secondly, the X70 is equipped to take on traditional Korean and Japanese C-segment SUVs. It’s specifications essentially mirrors what’s offered on the Honda CR-V (traditionally the king of this class) and drops the price by a significant factor.

It’s may be strange that a CBU car is coming in some RM20,000 cheaper than a CKD car just because the badge is local, but that’s the reality of the X70. As a customer, your only concern should be the pricing and the X70’s price-to-performance in this segment is through the roof.

3. Filling The C-SUV Gap

The RM100,000-125,000 range is arguably the best place to be in the Malaysian car market. You don’t need to worry too much about your margins here and at the same time, most middle income families are happy to spend about this much on a car.

What’s happened in the last few years is that a lot of B-segment sedans, hatchbacks and crossovers have filled the role normally reserved for C-segment sedans and hatchbacks in this price bracket. Interest in SUVs has skyrocketed and most Malaysians find modern the modern Myvi, Vios or City adequately replaces the Corolla or Civics they may have bought 10 years ago.

Malaysians have been yearning for a C-segment SUV in this price bracket

Then Proton comes along and puts the X70 in this price gap. The effect can be felt straight away. Products above RM100,000 that lack aspiration suddenly lose their appeal. Why? Because whatever you have to offer, the X70 probably has it and in the more appealing SUV shape.

Conclusion

The Proton X70 is a brilliant product because it makes you question the wisdom of spending RM325,000 on a ‘premium’ alternative, it outdoes its direct rivals by a significant margin and it delivers a good-sized SUV where people want it the most.