It has been the talk of the nation the whole year. Five months into 2019 and the Proton X70 is the Lewis Hamilton of SUV’s. Proton has sold over 10,000 units so far and that figure continues to skyrocket. Since the nation was fussing on it, I decided to take it out for a weekend test drive and see what’s what.
The variant Proton graciously lent me was the Executive AWD. This is the only AWD variant offered and happens to be just one down from the range-topping Premium. The first thing I noticed after a couple of minutes of driving was the massive side mirrors that obstruct your view around the A pillars.
Thank god for the Blind Spot system and 360 degree camera, because if I’m being honest, maneuvering it around a car park or obscure junctions is kind of tricky until you get used to it.
Making the test drive as realistic as possible, I volunteered to pick my cousins and their friends from school, 6 of em. The spacious SUV took them in with ease and better still, the commodious boot space soaked up all of their bags and my luggage without the need for stacking. You youngsters may brush this off but wait till you have a family and realize just how useful space can be.
Some context before I dive in, given that Malaysians were already head over heels for the X70, what with its value for money and all, I was more curious to explore its performance. Pootling around my housing area, the 1.8L turbocharged engine didn’t skip a beat. The 6-speed gearbox especially was silky smooth at low speeds. You know the all too familiar jerk as you come off a speed bump? Nope. Not a hint of it here. It may not be the most energetic engine available, but it is quiet and goes about its business. Just as how every family SUV should.
Enjoying the X70 around housing areas and traffic jams was just a way of killing time because I wanted traffic to die down before I took it up to Genting Highlands. Like I mentioned earlier, a performance review was what I was looking for and damn it I was going to get one. As the traffic settled and people settled down on their sofas, then I wound up the Geely, sorry I mean Proton X70, and gave her the beans.
Impressions. While the suspensions do an excellent job in keeping the occupants comfortable on busy streets, they are EXCEPTIONAL when you’re spanking it. Honest to god, the 1.7tonne behemoth hides its weight pretty well going uphill at demanding speeds. I struggled to find fault because most SUV’s make a real fuss. On the night I took it up, it has just showered so the roads were a little bit wet.
Luckily the AWD system was up to the task, giving me all the grip and confidence needed to chuck it into the bends. The front end was firmly planted and the AWD system, with the traction control, turned off, allowed me a safe amount of rear-end slip. For a moment I forgot that I was riding in an SUV!
While the handling department was spot on, the power could have a rethink. It’s fine on the highway and all but as you push on the engine starts to struggle. 285Nm of torque just ain’t enough to cut the mustard for the uphill warzone that Genting is. The smoothness of the transmission is magical in a traffic jam but lethargic for quick up and downshifts. In all fairness, this is an SUV, NOT a performance sedan so don’t judge it based on these impressions just because I have a certain hard on for speed.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to what the Proton X70 represents. It is a symbol of our national carmaker making a comeback in a big way. With the practicality box ticked, the superbly priced X70 is a no brainer. Word on the street is, Proton is only getting started.