At this point, we know pretty much there is to know about the Proton X50, except pricing. But that hasn’t stopped over 20,000 people from booking the automaker’s new B-segment SUV – that statistic now include our very own Hafriz Shah, as well as renown two-time Sepang 1000 km Endurance Race champion Farique Hairuman (also known as Wak Tempe).

Farique, who was part of the driving instructors team at the official X50 media drive last week, said the X50 “handles like no other SUV” he has driven before. “It is fun, nimble, easy to turn,” he said, adding that emergency lane changing and steering correction was very smooth as well. He even told Hafriz that the X50 handles better than the F48 BMW X1!

While exiting Turn 6, Farique noted that he could just floor the throttle and let the X50 run wide, but to his surprise, the typical SUV understeer was absent. It also didn’t oversteer when barging into Turn 12 with four adults on board. On the main straight, the top speed was just shy of 170 km/h (with four adults) before braking into Turn 1.

According to staff engineer Noor Hisham Ismail, the X50 has actually been made to ride softer, because the Binyue is apparently “too stiff” to deal with our litany of speed bumps and potholes. Specifically, Proton revised the front anti-roll bar, spring rates, bushings, tyre selection, dampers, and electronic power steering.

Ironically, Hisham said the X50 with its softer suspension won’t be as enjoyable to drive as the Binyue. But if it’s good enough for Farique (who by the way has had several international racing stints, such as the Super Taikyu Endurance Series in Japan from 2008 to 2013), it probably is good enough for most people.

One of the biggest talking points to come out of the media drive was the Flagship’s 1.5 TGDi drag race performance. With 177 PS and 255 Nm of torque, it consistently beat the Honda HR-V and BMW X1 sDrive18i in the acceleration test. Just to remind you, the Flagship will do the century sprint in 7.9 seconds, which is respectably brisk for a car in its class.

GALLERY: Proton X50 drive preview, Sepang International Circuit

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