At its Chinese New Year media luncheon today, Proton CEO Li Chunrong announced that the national carmaker’s second SUV is due to be launched this year. This smaller model, widely tipped to be called the X50, will be the company’s second major product introduction in 2020 after the locally-assembled X70.
Li later told us that the car, which will be based on the Geely Binyue/Coolray, will arrive in locally-assembled form immediately, rather than being imported first as with the X70. This is because the donor car is currently only built in China as a left-hand drive model, so it cannot be exported. It’s been previously reported that Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant is intended to be Geely’s right-hand drive production hub.
Prototypes of the car have been spied many times since early last year, with the most recent being at the start of this year. Unlike with previous mules, the latest one wore Proton’s new “Infinite Weave” grille, hinting at an impending launch – a correct prediction, as it turns out.
Expect much of the same toys that you’ll find on the X70, including panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, plus a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen running on the Geely Key User Interface (GKUI) and incorporating “Hi Proton” voice control. The Binyue is also available in China with Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability, though it’s unclear if we’ll get the full works.
As for engines, the Binyue is offered with either a 134 hp/205 Nm 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual gearbox or a 174 hp/255 Nm 1.5 litre mill with the CKD X70’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. We’re putting money on the latter coming to Malaysia. Excited?