It’s been some time since Proton and Geely partnered up, and since then, the national carmaker has launched its first-ever SUV model – the X70 – along with refreshed versions of the Iriz, Persona, Exora and Saga.

The company has other models planned for the future, which include a locally-assembled version of the X70, and by securing use of intellectual properties (IP) and the rights to manufacture and sell three Geely models, the Geely Boyue-based SUV will also be joined by other models based on the Binyue compact SUV and Jiaji MPV.

While the X70 may have been well received by car buyers here, there are those who are looking forward to the arrival of Proton’s smaller SUV offering, which many have tentatively referred to as the X50. Here’s what we know about it so far.

Will it really be called the Proton X50?

At this point, Proton has not officially named its upcoming compact SUV but there are a few indicators to suggest that the “X50” name will be used. Firstly, Proton had previously explained that the larger X70 currently on sale used an alphanumeric naming method to make it easier for it to be sold in other markets, without having to adjust for naming conventions in other markets.

In the case of the X70, the “X” denotes a vehicle in the crossover or SUV segment, while the number “70” refers to the size/class of the vehicle. The naming system, which mimics the Volvo XC line-up, therefore accommodates larger or smaller models that may come in the future, and as the company’s compact SUV is sized smaller than the X70, the use of X50 is highly likely.

Another hypothesis for the use of the name “X50” is a filing that Proton made with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to trademark the name “Proton X50.” The filing (application number 2018003484) was made on March 28, 2018, and was legally accepted on September 24, 2018.

Of course, companies do file for trademarks in advance in preparation for their new products, and Proton is no exception. Only time will tell if Proton will indeed christen its compact SUV the “X50,” but for now, we’ll refer to it as such.

What will the Proton X50 be based on?

Like the X70 that is based on the Boyue, the X50 will also be adapted from an existing Geely model, namely the Binyue that was launched in China back in August 2018. We’ve already seen a camouflaged example of the Binyue on Malaysian roads in the past, with Proton conducting testing for the model ahead of its debut.

Built on Geely’s B-segment Modular Architecture (BMA), the Binyue measures 4,330 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,609 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,600 mm. By comparison, the X70 is 4,519 mm long, 1,831 mm wide and 1,694 mm tall, with a 2,670 mm wheelbase.

If the X70 is an indication, the Binyue-based X50 should get a number of styling and equipment revisions that are specific for the Malaysian market. With Proton adopting the “Infiniti Weave” look on many of its recent models, including the Saga, the X50 should follow suit. If you need some idea of what that might look like, Theophilus Chin’s renders are certainly worth checking out.

What equipment/powertrains are available for the Proton X50?

In China, the Binyue is offered with a choice of two turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engines, starting with the base 1.0 litre option (134 hp and 205 Nm) that comes with a six-speed manual transmission. Higher up, there’s a 1.5 litre unit (174 hp and 255 Nm) co-developed with Volvo, which comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

There’s also a plug-in hybrid powertrain available for the Binyue, which is based on the 1.5 litre powertrain mentioned earlier, but with an electric motor and battery pack added. The total system output for this setup is 255 hp and 415 Nm, and the PHEV variant is said to have an electric-only range of 60 km.

It isn’t known which (or if any) of these powertrains will be offered for the X50 when it is launched, but we’re expecting the non-hybrid 1.5 litre option to be the preferred option. If our prediction comes true, the X50 will be the first Proton model that comes with a dual-clutch gearbox, unless of course such a transmission is introduced in the X70 earlier.

As for equipment, the Binyue in its home country features Level 2 autonomous driving features such as adaptive cruise control and parking assist, along with GKUI system, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), seven-inch LCD instrument panel and 10.25-inch main display, among others.

The X50 should benefit from most of these features with question marks applicable for the the Level 2 autonomous driving features and AEB. The X70 already comes with the GKUI system and a “Hi Proton” voice activation term, and it shouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect the X50 to get the same system.

When will the Proton X50 be launched here? Will it be a locally-assembled model?

The question on everyone’s mind, to which no one has a clear answer until Proton officially gives a date. According to AmInvestment, the X50 is slated to arrive in October 2020 as a locally-assembled (CKD) model.

Last year, Proton announced an investment of RM1.2 billion to upgrade its Tanjung Malim facility in order to locally assemble the X70, with production of the SUV said to begin in September 2019. At the time, the company didn’t reveal if the upgrading works include support for the BMA platform that the X50 rides on, although it is very likely that this is part of the plan.

Currently, the X70 is a fully-imported (CBU) model, and with the imminent launch of the CKD version, the introduction of the X50 will likely be pushed back for now. Given the suggested timeframe by AmInvestment, there’s certainly reason to believe that X50 will be launched as a CKD model right from the start, although this should be taken with a grain of salt for now.

What will the Proton X50’s pricing be like?

Another question on the minds of many, and only Proton knows the answer. As it is now, the X70 ranges from RM99,800 to RM123,800, so the smaller X50 should theoretically be priced below that.

A lot of figures have been floated about on social media, with all of them being no more than pure speculation for now. Us, we’d hazard a guess that the X50 would be priced around RM20,000 less than the X70, slotting in neatly between RM79,800 and RM103,800, with a small overlap between an (expected) X50 Premium and X70 Standard.

If accurate, the X50 would severely undercut many other B-segment SUV models in the market like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR. Seeing how the X70 did the same to its competitors in C-segment, we would reckon that Proton would like to shake things up again with its compact SUV.

Anything else should I know about the Proton X50?

Well, we’ve already written a few articles in the past that have some relation to the compact SUV, so here’s a list of them for further reading:

We’ll continuously update this post with information as they are revealed to us, so watch this space for more information about the Proton X50. It’s certainly an eagerly anticipated model for many car buyers in Malaysia, and we’re just as excited to bring you up to speed on the compact SUV leading up to its launch. Stay tuned.

GALLERY: Geely Binyue