The formidable Proton X70 has managed to accrue quite a reputation for itself following its ‘anointed’ status as the National Car Manufacturer’s most important production offering. With the massive tech and financial infusion of China’s automotive giant Geely, the preceding development leading up to the X70’s not too recent high profile debut, has propelled Proton’s maiden Compact SUV to levels of success reminiscing of the fledgling National Car Manufacturer’s 1990s heyday,
As a worthwhile testament to the roadworthiness of the Proton X70, a never before attempted road trip slash odyssey was organized by the Borneo Automobile Leisure Touring Team known as the Malaysia-China Amazing Trip – a transcontinental drive covering 13, 000km total distance over a period of 33 days, traversing four countries starting from our own blessed motherland, our northern neighbour Thailand, northbound into Laos and thereafter journeying further north into the vast land of China.
Once in China the group of nine Proton X70s is scheduled to arrive, per its official program, at its final destination – the sprawling city of Hangzhou, where the impressive front gates of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group shall be welcoming the X70 Entourage. Their scheduled arrival shall mark the halfway point of the transcontinental adventure.
The Malaysia-China Amazing Trip was flagged off earlier from the designated point of departure for the 33 day journey from Proton’s Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam, and as off this moment they are already into Day 5 of 33, with 28 days to go.
Thus far the X70 fleet has given a detailed account of their journey, starting from Day 1 right up the end of Day 5. This Special Feature come Photo Journal detailed their daily jaunts and experiences with interesting places and items of interest highlighted throughout.
Day 1 – Malaysia to Hatyai, Thailand, 540km and 12 hours
Their initial northbound convoy encountered heavy traffic, alas such discomfort were minimized by the X70’s cocooning cabin, with its extraordinarily comfortable seats, relaxing aural vibe thanks to its music streaming function inasmuch its occupants-primed interior. Before their driving excursion commenced, the participants initially went to PROTON Juru Auto-city for a quick vehicle inspection followed by a hearty lunch spread hosted by the branch. The Proton X70’s navigation function came in real handy as they made their way to JPJ Seberang Jaya where their entry into Thailand permits was sorted promptly. They’d crossed into Thailand right after via Padang Besar with proceedings going smoothly, including their swift drive allowing their arrival into Hatyai just in time for dinner.
Their dinner host for Day 1 was PROTON Motors Thailand.
Day 2 – Hatyai to Hua Hin, 740km and one of the longest legs of the trip.
As per the heading Day 2 constitutes more than 700km of travelling; as it were the X70’s aforementioned creature comfort and road-holding was yet again up to the task, enveloping them throughout the long north bound drive in the utmost comfort and peace of mind; to that effect the standard air ionizer made the cabin pleasant throughout, lending that fresh feeling all the while.
The fleet drove at a steady cruise between 90km/h minimum speed to a max of 120km/h thereabouts. As per the notoriously bumpy Thai roads, the X70’s excellent dynamics and suspension made it all a formality pretty much.
Eventually they’d arrived at Hua Hin – a charming locality well known for happening street life, ancient historic relics of civilization of bygone era, tourist swarmed beaches and that famous Thai beach culture. That heralded the end of Day 2.
Day 3 – Hua Hin to Tak, 619km.
600 and 20 odd km was the length between Hua Hin and their Day 3 destination – the uniquely sounding Tak – the capital city of the Tak Province which was but a stone’s throw away from the Myanmar border. They’d drove by numerous shanty towns during a rather staid and uneventful drive. Of worthy mentioned was the stellar smoothness of the X70’s 1.8 TGDI engine, its impressive performance making easy of the already light traffic along the way. Another worthy mention here is the Auto Hold function easing out th many stop lights en-route as well as minimizing traffic holds throughout.
Day 4 – Tak to Chiang Khong, 580km and 10 hours on the road.
During the fleet’s drive on Day 4 (from Tal to Chiang Khong) they’d promptly stopped by the infamous Magic Hill on Highway 105 – where some manner of the unexplained was at play. Testing out the myth cum mystery, one of the X70 stopped at the bottom of the hill with the engine off and the gearbox in neutral. Amazingly it then started to move uphill for about 10 metres!
As they were about to depart the location, the handsome and attractive styling of the X70 persuaded some of the locals to approach them unabashedly, enquiring directly about the first ever Compact SUV from Proton. Graciously entertaining their impromptu queries as such, they’d took off thereafter for their final stop for Day 4 – Chiang Khong where they’d spend the night along the lovely Mekong riverbanks, from where the borders of Laos can be seen.
On the fifth day, the group would cross the Friendship Bridge to Laos.
Day 5 – Chiang Kong to Mengla, 430km and crossing into China.
Day 5 for the X70 Malaysia-China Amazing Trip convoy was memorably marked by their border crossing of the famous Friendship Bridge to Laos, which was just about one half of their double border crossings scheduled for Day 5. Indeed, they had not only crossed into Laos from Thailand, but later, also crossed into China from Laos!
They’d arrived bright and early at the Thai border just after 8 o’clock in the a.m. and they’ve got just about half an hour for some handy photo snaps as the border only opens at 8:30. As it were the handsome X70 simply revelled amidst the cool surroundings at that juncture, allowing for some truly breathtaking images of the Proton SUV, giving the group yet another unique memorabilia of their 33 Day long journey.
Ban Houayxay is the rather tricky to pronounce correctly namesake of the capital of Bokèo of the Lao province on the border with Thailand. The town lies on the Mekong River opposite Chiang Khong with the Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge #4 at Ban Houayxay being the northernmost border crossing between the two countries.
The X70 Fleet travelled on the road en route to Asian Highway 3, which runs through Ban Houayxay and extends north to Yunnan Province in China. As circumstances would have it the differences was anything but paltry between the two countries – ‘groovy’ road surfaces, multiplied potholes, more people namely locals going about their grinds, and also a pleasing bit of change concerned the lush and green landscape being the more memorable nuances of this busy little town some 430km from Chiang Khong known as Mengla – yet another interesting spot along the Malaysia-China Amazing Trip.
A mish-mashed of noises were drumming louder and more deafening on the outside and yet the Proton X70 had its impressive noise insulation to encapsulate the occupants in complete and utter comfort. The Proton X70 tentatively negotiate the high volume of traffic, on top of badly pockmarked and uneven surfaces to boot, with nary a whisker of discomfort for the passengers and the driver alike as they’d almost ‘snuggle’ inside the repeatedly mentioned cocooning cabin, the comfortable seats, smooth suspension and excellent noise absorption, among others, all plus points coming together to make the X70 an ‘oasis of calm in a sea of chaos’. ]
Even the most horrible of roads along the steepest of hills, or ravines, or dips, or what not, the Proton X70 somehow handled the terrain with consummate ease, powering up steep slopes and using its good handling to keep all four tyres in contact with the road.
The nine X70s finally made it to the China-bound border crossing, who knows what extraordinary adventure awaits them come Day 6? Or the next, and what else is in store over the next twenty-eight days.
We shall soon find out.
Watch this space.