Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently got behind the wheel of a right-hand drive version of Proton’s new SUV, and the premier gave it the thumbs-up. According to The Malaysian Insight, the 93-year-old test drove the prototype car last week and was impressed by its good quality and make.

“I was testing the car. It was very good. The quality is very high and I think it is a good car for the market,” he said during a press conference. The Pakatan Harapan chairman also met several Geely representatives to discuss Proton’s future, and said it should have more Malaysian representation.

“Proton may be managed by Geely, but we want Malaysians to participate in the supply. Malaysian manufacturers should participate in the process,” he said. Tun M also told Bernama that “we want to try and have locals supplying the components and also maybe set up a joint venture.”

Proton’s SUV will be heavily based on the Geely Boyue facelift, and the bright red unit that Mahathir sampled is clearly a proper right-hand drive unit. Based on previous reports, Proton will be launching its first ever SUV by October and in CBU (fully-imported) form. Local assembly is scheduled to begin next year.

The new Proton SUV, which has yet to be named, will get a 1.8 litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine, as hinted by the TGDi badge on the doors. It makes 181 hp and 285 Nm of torque, and the engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The SUV will either be front- or all-wheel drive.

From what we know, the kit list will comprise of smaller 18-inch wheels rather than the 19s introduced on the facelift, and will be available with brown leather upholstery. Other features include a large panoramic sunroof, 360-degree cameras (with a three-dimensional view function) and an eight-inch touchscreen display.

Also on is a camera at the top of the windscreen to enable the car’s driver assist systems. These will include features like autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. If the SUV is good enough to impress Tun M, will it be good enough to impress you? What do you think?

GALLERY: Geely Boyue facelift