PETALING JAYA: It’s been on the market for a little over two years. but the Proton X70 remains king of its class, with no other car in the Malaysian market coming close in terms of tech and features on a budget.
While the release of the X50 a few months ago got plenty of well-deserved plaudits, the X70’s host of features have withstood the test of time and ensured it remains the best sub-100k SUV you can buy.
Let’s start with the voice control, a feature that should frankly become the norm because of the safety advantage it affords, allowing you to control aspects of the car without taking your hands off the wheel, or eyes from the road.
While it may not be as snappy as the controls you’d find on your mobile phone, the controls work well, and consistently. Even with the windows down on a busy highway, the inbuilt mics are sensitive and accurate enough to pick up your commands.
You can ask for directions, control your music, adjust the aircon, and plenty more. Bottom line, with a simple “hey, Proton”, drivers are able control a host of features sans distraction.
For those still uncomfortable or unfamiliar with voice commands, no problem. There’s a large 8” touch screen that manages all the multimedia and navigation functions. While there are better examples on the market, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that comes close at this price.
Maybe the most useful feature, and the one this reviewer would get the most out of, is the array of cameras and sensors scattered around the car, which combined with some clever artificial intelligence software comes together to offer a range of impossible viewing angles, like top down and from behind, much like a video game.
The feature is perfect for navigating narrow, winding ramps in old carparks, particularly useful given the hefty dimensions of this car. It means that somebody used to driving something compact, like a Myvi, will have no trouble handling a car that’s far bigger in every direction. An SUV can be daunting to the uninitiated, but not so in this case
The car also connects to the Proton Link App, which allows remote unlocking of the car and gives real time feedback on the amount of petrol left in the tank. This second part is a godsend for families that might share this car. There’s always that one person (you know who you are) who refuses to top up the tank, leaving it to the next person to do so.
With the app however, you’ll never again be surprised to hop into a car that can barely survive past the driveway.
The X70 runs on a 1.8L turbocharged inline-4, which is more than enough for the kind of city driving most people would use the car for. The turbocharger makes sure the car doesn’t feel as big as it is, and it’s easy to forget you’re driving an SUV.
This is all delivered by a smooth 7-speed automatic gearbox, which is able to keep revs low and the cabin quiet. It’s often said that the mark of a good gearbox is forgetting it’s there, and this certainly ticks that box.
The ride has been tuned nicely, and is able to handle the rigours of torn up city roads well. Testing the car in Shah Alam, Kuala Lumpur and PJ, the X70 ran into plenty of potholes and divots, and not once did it feel like a panel was going to drop off the car. While you should obviously still avoid those potholes, the soft suspension on the X70 means that if you do drive over one, it won’t jolt everyone in the car.
The fact that this car is such good value is a credit not only to the Proton-Geely partnership, but also a referendum on the Malaysian car market as a whole. The price gap between this and other cars shouldn’t be as cavernous and buyers shouldn’t have to pay through the nose for features like this.
But, you just have to blame that on the taxes, and count your blessings with the X70.
Proton has made great strides over the years, and this is proof that they can compete with the traditional powerhouses like Honda, Toyota, Mazda and the others. In the X70, Proton has made a car that is not only attractive because of its price.
The national carmaker has produced something truly desirable, something that stacks up admirably against Japanese and Korean competitors, and in many areas, comes out on top.