First drive: 2020 Proton X70 Premium 2WD – RM119,800
New? Sure doesn’t look like it…
At a glance, it’s difficult for anyone to differentiate the new-for-2020 Proton X70 Premium pictured here from other X70s we’ve seen prior. Look closely and you’ll see that it now sports Proton’s new logo up front and on its wheel centre caps.
That aside, we’ll note that this X70 isn’t a China-built CBU unit that we’re all acquainted with either. Instead, this X70 – and all X70s after it – proudly rolled off Proton’s own Tanjung Malim production hub, thus making it a local or CKD offering now.
New logo and CKD? Is that it?
There’s more to the X70’s localisation efforts besides aesthetics, and we start with the 1.8-litre 4cyl turbo heart. It’s been fettled to deliver 5 per cent more twist, and it gets paired with a new 7-speed dual-clutch (DCT) automatic box now.
There’s also new suspension tuning – something Proton’s local R&D and engineering folks are very proud about. This effort was already seen prior in later batches of the X70 CBU, but it’s now in full effect in this new CKD version.
Another crucial change lie in streamlined model variants, of which four are planned. The sole all-wheel-drive (AWD) offering has been scrapped altogether, meaning all X70 CKDs are front-wheel-drive (FWD) only, but this isn’t bad news entirely.
Lastly, higher-end variants like the Premium 2WD featured here and the Premium X 2WD variant above it get ventilated seats up front. Additionally, the powered tailgate in both also gets boosted with foot sensor activation, and it works to both open AND close.
By the way…
Before we digress further, we need to point out that the cars we – and other invited journos – drove in the recent press drive Proton held were pre-production units. The final cars you’ll soon see in showrooms may vary slightly in terms of its finishing.
We reckon it’ll be somewhat better than the ones we drove, which were likely rushed out of the assembly line for us to drive. Despite this, the X70 CKDs we spanked on our road trip from Proton’s Shah Alam HQ to Kuantan and back didn’t appear or feel too shabby.
Go on, then… Tell us more
Like the exterior, anyone would be hard pressed again into telling that there’s now more torque in play. The readout stands at a much more rounded 300Nm figure whilst power remains at a claimed 135kw – or 181 in brake horsepower.
The 0-100kph sprint time sees a 1sec improvement from 10.5 secs to 9.5 secs. Also improved is fuel economy, to which Proton now claims an average of 7.6 litres/100km – a 13 per cent improvement.
We reckon this newfound frugality is fuelled by the slight weight loss from the new 7-speed DCT box. This, by the way, wasn’t simply plucked out of the Geely parts catalogue and plonked it into the X70 CKD. Proton keenly pointed out that they’ve tuned it locally to meet local driving habits and demands.
The result is very telling.
Compared to a rivalling German unit, this DCT from Geely isn’t as quick nor direct – there’s a slight level of lag to deal with. Nevertheless, its slicker operation plus improved performance and economy over the 6-speed conventional automatic it replaced is something we know many will appreciate.
The same can be said with the way this X70 behaves when thrown round bends as we did through the twisty Karak Highway enroute towards Kuantan. Proton’s chassis development folks deserve applause here as the ride felt much more supple now.
There’s noticeably less body roll, and it comes without trading-off its ability to dampen cracks and bumps. Coupled with the cabin’s existing impressive NVH suppression, fancier and pricier Korean, Japanese and European rivals should start to sweat properly now.
Sweet! Anything else?
Speaking of the cabin, what we saw in past X70s remains unchanged, meaning you’d still get to bask in the novel connectivity-driven functions including “Hi Proton” and navigation. We’re just not keen on the brown leather seats covers this Premium variant.
Besides the foot sensor-activated powered tailgate opening and closing, we’re absolutely certain the new ventilated front seats will make this SUV’s cabin a true winner in segment too.
For those seated in the back, worry not as the X70 CKD’s second row seats have also been upgraded with a two-step reclining backrest feature. In other words, it’s now cooler to sit up front and drive, and much comfier to sit in the back of too.
So... Is this the X70 to buy then?
Factor in the deletion of AWD and the inclusion of both the new 7-speed box’s and added tech on board the Premium 2WD and Premium X 2WD variants, perhaps the X70 CKD's new pricing is somewhat justified.
If either the Premium 2WD or Premium 2WD X variantsare still too rich for you, then fret not as there are two more variants below them, but you'll of course lose out on some of the neat features seen in the higher two.
But as far as first impressions go, the X70's case as a true local offering is undeniably stronger than ever now.
Proton X70 Premium 2WD
1.8-litre 4cyl turbo,
7spd DCT, FWD
0-100kph in 9.5 secs
7.6 litres/100km (claimed)