The Proton X70 has finally been launched, after what seemed like a lifetime of teasers and previews. Proton’s first SUV, which is based on the facelifted Geely Boyue, is priced from RM99,800 to RM123,800, putting it in the middle of a crowded field of SUVs on sale in Malaysia.

The list is diverse, perhaps even more so than in Western markets. Besides the mainstream B- and C-segment SUVs sitting on car platforms, we have the Honda BR-V and Toyota Rush – the former shares a platform with a compact hatchback while the latter has rear-wheel drive underpinnings; both are marketed in developing countries. Perodua’s version of the Rush will join the fray very soon, too.

At the other end of the scale, we have more sophisticated Continental offerings like the Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008, but it’s in the midfield that the X70 must convince. Proton will be persuading Rush and BR-V buyers to shell out a bit more for the entry-level X70, while tempting the urban upper middle class folks out of their default choices with the kit-loaded Premium.

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The Proton X70 is a C-segment SUV, which means that it’s significantly larger than the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3. At 4,519 mm long and 1,831 mm wide, it’s 225 mm longer and 59 mm wider than the HR-V, which we’ll take as the B-SUV benchmark.

The Proton is closer to the size of the Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 (it’s 31 mm shorter and 9 mm narrower than the Mazda), but smaller than the Honda CR-V (77 mm shorter, 24 mm narrower) and Nissan X-Trail (121 mm shorter), both of which were designed to accommodate optional third rows.

The X70’s 2,670 mm wheelbase is 10 mm longer than the CR-V’s, but is 30 mm less than the CX-5 and 35 mm shorter than the X-Trail’s.

Proton’s first SUV is powered by a 1.8 litre turbocharged engine with 182 hp (184 PS) and 285 Nm of torque from 1,700 to 4,400 rpm. The only Japanese C-SUV to offer a blown engine is the CR-V; its 1.5L VTEC Turbo unit offering 190 hp (+8 hp) and 243 Nm (-42 Nm). Euro brands VW (1.4L, 148 hp, 250 Nm) and Peugeot (1.6L, 165 hp, 240 Nm) also went the turbo route.

The X70 uses a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission with manual mode, like the Peugeot 3008. The Tiguan’s TSI motor is paired to a twin-clutch auto gearbox. Elsewhere, the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail both offer the choice of 2.0L and 2.5L naturally aspirated engines (Mazda also has a 2.2L turbodiesel option) – the former with a 6AT and the latter with a CVT. The Honda CR-V is also CVT-equipped.

Proton offers a single all-wheel drive option (Executive AWD), but the other three variants are front-wheel drive, including the top-spec Premium. The CR-V, CX-5 and X-Trail can be had in FWD or AWD as well, but the Tiguan and 3008 are FWD-only. Conversely, the Subaru XV is AWD-only. The B-segment players listed here are all FWD.

Aside from design, equipment is one of the X70’s strong points. The base model comes with halogen headlamps and fabric seats, but the Geely Smart Ecosystem (GKUI) Android-based infotainment system with navigation, music streaming and voice control with artificial intelligence is standard across the range.

Also across the board are keyless entry and push start, dual-zone auto air con with rear vents and air purification system, six airbags, ESC, Hill Descent Control and a reverse camera.

The mid-range Executive adds on LED headlights and daytime running lights, 18-inch rims, faux leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, auto wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, front parking sensors and a 360-degree camera. The Executive AWD has all of the above, plus a tyre pressure monitoring system.

The car you see here, and in the brochures, is the Premium 2WD, which sports 19-inch rims and a panoramic sunroof on the outside. Inside, the top X70 gets Nappa leather for the steering and seats, remote opening windows/sunroof, eight-way powered driver’s seat (with lumbar), four-way powered front passenger seat (with switches close to the driver, Camry-style), voice command, and nine speakers (with amp and subwoofer).

The range-topper’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Door Opening Warning System (DOW) and Intelligent High Beam Control (HBC).

The Premium’s glass roof is unique in the field, and the only other SUV here to have ACC is the top-spec CR-V with Honda Sensing. AEB is getting more common these days, but of the lot, it’s only found on the X70, CR-V, CX-5 and Toyota Rush. Yes, even the Conti choices here don’t come with AEB and ACC.

Five-star ASEAN NCAP-rated Proton aside, only the CR-V and CX-5 can be had with a “full suite” of driver assist systems – however, the Honda misses out on auto high beam, and the Mazda omits ACC. As for the 360-degree parking camera, the other SUVs to have it are the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota Rush.

There you have it – the Proton X70 is a C-segment sized SUV with pricing that closely mirrors the smaller Honda HR-V. Besides the turbo engine, what really sets it apart on paper is equipment, especially when it comes to safety and driver assist systems. Honda and Mazda do offer their own safety suites (at a higher price point – RM163,191 for the CR-V 1.5TC Premium 2WD, and from RM148,214 for GLS-spec CX-5s, respectively), but the X70’s is comprehensive and unmatched at this price point.

GALLERY: Proton X70 Standard 2WD


GALLERY: Proton X70 Executive 2WD
GALLERY: Proton X70 Executive AWD
GALLERY: Proton X70 Premium 2WD

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