Earlier last month at the Malaysia Autoshow 2019, we spoke with Proton chief designer Azlan Othman on the facelifted Persona and Iriz, and we also scratched the surface on the imminent arrival of the locally-assembled Proton X70.

From the interview, Azlan revealed that the CKD X70 will feature several uniqueness that is not present on the CBU version, and added that “there will be some surprises.” Azlan also said much of what we see today – in terms of kit – will continue to be available. The CKD X70 is expected to be launched towards the end of this year.

“In developing the CKD version, the vast majority of it is actually done here in Malaysia, because we’ve already worked long and hard on the CBU version. With the knowledge and the connection that we have with the team in Shanghai, it’s very easy for us to move on the CKD version – so we’re taking the lead,” he explained.

On the matter of the amount of local content that will be used for the CKD X70, DRB-Hicom managing director Datuk Syed Faisal Akbar said no percentages have been revealed for now. “However, features such as the GKUI infotainment system will be updated and revised for local users,” he added.

In terms of the X70’s design, Azlan said “Geely has been a very, very good partner. They’ve taken us into the family and being much, much more open compared to our past experiences. We’ve been accepted into the (Geely) family, hence communication is much easier from a design standpoint.” This makes design development easier between Proton and Geely.

In fact, the Proton Design team has even been invited to work on some of Geely’s own products. “I think that shows you the acceptance and openness of the Geely group,” said Othman, although he wasn’t at liberty to specify the said projects. Interestingly, the vehicles in question could even be used for Proton and Geely in their respective markets.

More importantly, Azlan said Proton is actively in talks with Geely over future plans and products. “There are many things that we’re going to bring out in the future,” he said, adding that now is the “best time” for Proton.

Despite having inputs from other Geely design studios (the group has a total of five scattered around the world), Othman said Proton will continue to retain its own unique identity. “We’re currently in a situation where you have the Geely-based products and the legacy Proton products. They’re reaching a crossroad, and the X70 is the first of the Geely-based products.”

“But we want to maintain a collaborative development, so there’s no such thing as one following the other in that sense. Peter Horbury said he wants Proton to retain its own unique identity, and we will stay true to that. We will work in tandem to ensure that there is no overlap in terms of design,” he added.