Photos of the yet-to-be-launched, yet-to-be-named Proton SUV have been posted on prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s official Facebook page, giving us a first look at the new model. Although the car was obscured slightly in the photos – likely to avoid giving the whole game away ahead of its October unveiling – there was enough there for resident Photoshop wizard Theophilus Chin to work his magic.

This, then, is a better look at what will be the national carmaker’s first ever SUV, which is based on the facelifted Geely Boyue. As you can see, the Proton version will carry minimal visual changes, such as the slatted front grille that replaces Geely’s concentric “expanding cosmos” design. The Malaysian one features a dip on the lower edge to better fit Proton’s shield-shaped logo.

Also seen are smaller 18-inch alloy wheels rather than the 19-inch rollers introduced on the facelifted Boyue. The rest of the car is unchanged, tallying with previous remarks made by Proton’s head of design Azlan Othman, who said that only a few design tweaks will be made to get the car out the door, but “changes will come in the CKD version next year.”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad drove the right-hand drive prototype on Friday

Ah yes, about that. Proton’s SUV is slated to be launched first in fully-imported (CBU) form, before CKD local assembly kicks off in 2019. “This is according to the government request that the new product come to Malaysia as soon as possible. With this move, we are on track,” said Proton CEO Li Chunrong.

From the photos, Proton will pile its new model with plenty of kit, such as a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera (with a three-dimensional view function) and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. The company has already confirmed numerous features that will make it onto the equipment list, such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a voice command system.

As for the engine, it will be Geely’s 1.8 litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine. It makes 181 hp and 285 Nm of torque, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and an expected choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. So, what do you think of Theo’s effort?


GALLERY: Geely Boyue facelift