More than a year after the Proton X70 was launched, the national carmaker’s first SUV is now assembled in Malaysia, and the 2020 model year finally goes on sale today. The CKD model brings a few welcome improvements based on customer feedback, as well as a brand new gearbox.
Let’s get straight to the most important bit, pricing. The variants are priced largely similarly to before, with the Standard 2WD model retailing at RM94,800, the Executive 2WD model at RM106,800 and the Premium 2WD model at RM119,800. The sole all-wheel drive version, the Executive AWD, has been dropped, and the 2020 X70 also heralds the introduction of the range-topping Premium X, priced at RM122,800.
All prices are on-the-road without insurance and come with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, five times of free labour servicing, a five-year data package (1GB per month) and interest rates as low as 2.32% per annum.
Styling-wise, you’ll be hard pressed to spot what’s new upon first glance, as the CKD version looks pretty much identical to the fully-imported (CBU) units that came before it. The only real exterior revision is the addition of Proton’s new round three-dimensional logo, which can be found on the grille, wheel caps, steering wheel airbag boss and even the windows.
Scrutinise the exterior further, and you’ll also see that the tyres are now made in Malaysia instead of China, although the 19-inch rollers are still Continental UltraContact UC6 SUV units.
Proton has also expanded the CKD X70’s colour palette to six, with Space Grey being the latest addition, exclusive to the Premium and Premium X models. Other colours include Snow White, Armour Silver, Jet Grey, Cinnamon Brown and Ruby Red. The last option is the Proton’s own colour, also used on its indigenous models, replacing the CBU X70’s Flame Red, though they look pretty much identical to the untrained eye; it and Cinnamon Brown is offered on the Executive, Premium and Premium X variants.
Inside, the most obvious revision is the redesigned electronic gearlever that controls the new Volvo/Geely-developed seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which we’ll get to in a second. It can be operated by simply nudging it up and down, and it has a Park button on top. Proton says that pressing the latter while on the move will not result in the car being put into Park, making it foolproof.
Ventilated front seats are also now fitted from the Executive model onwards, with air being blown through the base of the seat. There’s no physical button to engage the feature, and you’ll have go through the climate control menu in the infotainment system, or use the “Hi Proton” voice command.
For passengers in the rear, the 60:40 split-folding seats now come with a reclining function, which was implemented based on customer feedback. Proton also acknowledged the need for a powered tailgate, and has made it available on the Executive variant and up, with programmable height adjustment.
There’s also a number of ways to operate the tailgate, including via the key fob, a button next to the wing mirror controls near the driver, and even a hands-free method by swiping your leg under the rear bumper (though this foot sensor is only on the Premium models). In the event the battery is flat and you need to get to the boot, there’s a dedicated tailgate latch release inside the cabin.
Speaking of the boot, Proton has also redesigned to tonneau cover to sit on rails to make the setup sturdier and easier to use. Additionally, the walls of the boot are now carpeted instead of being bare plastic components, and there’s now an additional shopping hook on the left side.
Our man and CBU X70 owner Hafriz Shah, who attended the preview drive, did note that the pre-production CKD units’ build quality looked and felt identical to his own X70, with no discernible differences. While he did observe a few finishing issues, Proton has assured that they will be fixed for the production cars.
Aside from these styling and convenience enhancements, the most significant changes take place under the skin. The 1.8 litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder petrol engine is mechanically the same as before, but now comes with a new engine cover that carries the script “Proton GPower”. The powerplant still produces 181 hp at 5,500 rpm, but thanks to the new gearbox, peak torque has been bumped up to 300 Nm from 1,750 to 4,000 rpm, which is 15 Nm more than the 285 Nm offered previously.
The DCT, which sends drive to the front wheels, replaces the six-speed torque converter automatic found in CBU units. Like the rest of the powertrain, its behaviour is manipulated using the three drives modes – Normal, Eco and Sport. There’s also a manual shifting option, although there are no paddle shifters here.
Used in a variety of Geely and Lynk & Co models, as well as the Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine, the gearbox comes from Geely’s Chunxiao plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang. For Malaysian application, the transmission has been tuned to have a slightly more aggressive power delivery compared to the Geely Boyue in China.
The development work goes beyond just minor tweaks, as Proton spent a lot of time conducting local durability testing to ensure the DCT is up to scratch. This includes multiple stress runs up and down Genting Highlands, with a total of over 100,000 km notched up over six months.
With the increased engine torque and new transmission, the CKD X70 is a whole second faster in the zero to 100 km/h sprint when compared to the CBU version (9.5 seconds versus 10.5 seconds). Fuel consumption is also 13% less at 7.6 l/100 km (13.2 km/l), with Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) certification remaining intact.
In terms of ride and handling, the X70’s steering and suspension (hard points, geometry and springs) are all the same as before, but the dampers have been tuned slightly to give better body control and less body roll, while maintaining comfort levels. According to Hafriz, the differences are very minor, saying “you might not even notice unless you’re very familiar with the CBU X70 – but definitely improved.”
As mentioned, there are four variants on offer – Standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Premium 2WD and Premium X 2WD. The equipment is largely the same as on the CBU version, aside from the aforementioned new items. The only difference is that the panoramic sunroof is now offered only on the Premium X, and Proton says that making the item essentially an optional one was again down to customer feedback, as not everyone that wanted a top-of-the-line model also wanted a sunroof. The spec-by-spec comparison is as follows:
Proton X70 Standard 2WD
Gets as standard:
- 1.8 litre T-GDI DOHC engine
- 1,799 cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
- 181 hp at 5,500 rpm, 300 Nm from 1,750 to 4,400 rpm
- Seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission with manual shift mode
- Three drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport
- Electronic power assisted steering with Normal and Sport modes
- Electronic parking brake
- MacPherson struts (front), multi-link with stabiliser bar (rear)
- Ventilated brake discs (front), solid discs (rear)
- Halogen projector headlamps with automatic on/off function
- LED rear combination taillights
- LED front fog lamps
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Electronic power-folding side mirrors
- Keyless entry
- Black leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls
- Tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment
- Seven-inch LCD instrument cluster display
- Push-button start
- Electronic power windows with anti-trap for driver-side window
- Black fabric upholstery
- Manually-adjustable front seats
- 60:40 split-folding rear seats
- Automatic dual-zone climate control with rear vents and air purification system
- Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment with voice command, online music streaming, navigation, smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and 4G Wi-Fi hotspot
- Proton Link App to check vehicle status, remote functionality
- Six speakers
- Six USB ports – one for data, five for charging
- Tonneau cover
- 18-inch steel spare wheel with 155/85 profile tyre
- Six airbags (front, side and curtain)
- Rear seat ISOFIX child seat anchors with top tethers
- Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
- Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD)
- Brake Assist
- Auto brake hold
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- Traction control
- Hill Hold Assist (HHA)
- Hill Descent Control (HDC)
- Emergency Stop Signal (ESS)
- Four rear parking sensors
- Reverse camera
Proton X70 Executive 2WD
- LED projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights (DRL)
- Automatic rain-sensing wipers
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Powered tailgate
- Auto-dimming rear view mirror
- Front welcome and footwell lamps
- Leatherette upholstery
- Six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Ventilated front seats
- Eight speakers
- Two front parking sensors
- 360-degree camera
Proton X70 Premium 2WD
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Powered tailgate with hands-free operation
- Black Nappa leather multi-function steering wheel
- Remote open/close all windows and sunroof
- Electronic power windows with anti-trap for all windows
- Brown Nappa leather upholstery
- Powered lumbar adjustment for driver’s seat, four-way powered front passenger seat (with additional shoulder switches)
- Additional voice command functionality for the infotainment system
- Nine-speaker Kenwood sound system (with amplifier and subwoofer)
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS)
- 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)
- Intelligent High Beam Control (HBC)
- Four front parking sensors
Proton X70 Premium X 2WD
- Panoramic sunroof