Proton unveils locally made X70 with new features

The easiest way to spot the CKD X70 is via the new Proton logo that was unveiled last September


PROTON Holdings Bhd is expected to unveil the all-new locally assembled X70 today, with new features added to the national carmaker’s first SUV.

According to the car manufacturer, more than 29,000 completely built-up (CBU) units of the X70 were delivered as of January this year.

The completely knocked-down (CKD) units, which were produced at Proton’s manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak, last December, are expected to attract more buyers into Proton’s order book this year.

It is also believed that over 2,000 units have been produced at the company’s manufacturing plant so far — a number that Proton aims to achieve monthly to meet expected growing demand.

The company’s turnaround plan has been progressing, with sales jumping 55.7% year-on-year in 2019 largely driven by the X70, the Saga A-segment sedan and the Persona B-level sedan.

Thanks to the stellar sales last year, the carmaker reclaimed its spot as the second-largest industry player with a 16.7% market share, which rose to 19.5% in January 2020.

The X70 also boosted Proton’s market share in the SUV segment, where total industry volume (TIV) jumped 64.8% from 75,598 in 2018 to 124,560 units as at end-2019.

The X70 is Proton’s first-ever product in the SUV or four-wheel-drive (4WD) segment, launched in December 2018 and jointly deve-loped with Proton’s partner, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd.

Here we take a look at the brand new, locally assembled X70, which comes with five new features, as unveiled by the Proton production team during a media drive to Kuantan, Pahang, last week.

New Features
The easiest way to spot the CKD X70 is via the new Proton logo that was unveiled last September. The logo now sits on the grille of the car, while much of the exterior has been left unchanged.

Like the CBU units, four variants of the CKD X70 will be offered. This time, however, Proton is excluding the all-wheel-drive variant, believed to be due to lower demand.

Proton has added one more colour for the locally made X70, Space Grey

As such, the carmaker is expected to offer the standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Premium 2WD and Premium 2WD X variants in this new line of production.

Additional features for the CKD X70 include rear-seat recline and power tailgate with foot sensor, a feature that may be seen in more premium SUV models.

The rear-seat recline is available across the range.

On tailgate operations, the 2WD executive offers a normal power tailgate, while the premium model is equipped with a foot sensor, allowing for hands-free operation as the motion sensor detects foot movement.

Overall, the premium model comes with five tailgate functions, including an anti-trap function and a programmable height adjustment.

In the cabin, both the front passenger and driver can expect a more relaxing drive, with the circulation of cool air through the seats powered by a three-fan speed ventilation system.

The fan speed is controllable via the infotainment panel.

Meanwhile, the only difference between the Premium 2WD and Premium 2WD X will be the panoramic sunroof that will be available for the X variant.

All other features including the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) which incorporates Adaptive Cruise Control, autonomous emergency braking, the Blind Spot Information System, Forward Collision Warning and Land Departure Warning remain in the CKD model.

Proton has also maintained Geely’s new Smart Ecosystem (GKUI) infotainment system that incorporates a Baidu Map GPS navigator.

According to Proton, the 2020 X70 will be powered by a new 1.8L TGDi petrol engine, although all of the CBU variants come with the same capacity.

The difference, the company said, may be felt via the new seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

7-Speed Makes All the Difference
Co-developed by Geely and Volvo Cars, the new seven-speed wet DCT could be the last jigsaw of the puzzle to complete and improve the old CBU X70.

With the previous gearbox system, the six-speed automatic transmission is said to be not sharp enough to provide a holistic performance for the X70.

Through this seven-speed improvement, the 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 PS will produce a better torque of 300Nm from 1,750 to 4,000rpm, which is 15Nm more than the previous 285Nm from 1,700 to 4,400rpm.

As a result, Proton has managed to reduce the new X70’s fuel consumption to 7.6L/100km, down 13% compared to the CBU units, hence complying with government standards for energy-efficient vehicles.

The lower fuel consumption — claimed to be a class-leading efficiency — is partly considered as an engine revision, which places the new CKD X70’s engine as a third-generation engine compared to the CBU units, which run on second-generation engines.

The improved engine offers better manual and automatic transmission for faster, smoother and greater efficient gear shifting, thus making for better acceleration.

Driving modes remain unchanged from the original units, namely Normal, Eco and Sport.

Benchmark Quality or Production Stops
After Geely purchased a 49.9% stake in Proton in May 2017, Proton managed to reduce its quality demerit points from 6,388 points to only 1,329 as at end-2019 within the first 22 months of the joint venture.

This is based on the Global Customer Product Audit (GCPA), a benchmarking test employed by both Volvo and Geely.

The GCPA is an audit system that rates issues encountered on the production line based on severity, and pushes the reliability of the products according to the international standards.

Geely is currently benchmarking its products at a level of 1,100 demerit points, while Volvo is further ahead with 850.

For the X70, Proton vehicle programme executive (engineering and technical) Shariffudin Mustaffa said the group has agreed that the maximum demerit points Proton’s manufacturing department can “fail” is 1,000 points.

“As we speak, we have achieved 1,000 points for the CKD X70. Anything below that and we will have to stop production. That is what we have agreed,” he told a media conference in Kuantan, Pahang, during the recent drive.

Pricing and Colours
The pricing mechanism could be a bit tricky. While many assume that the price of the CKD X70 to be lower than the CBU X70, the five advanced features incorporated into the locally assembled models may add to the value of the vehicle.

The previous CBU X70 was priced at RM99,800, RM109,800, RM115,800 and RM123,800 for the Standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Executive AWD and Premium 2WD models respectively.

“The industry speculates that the price range (for the CKD X70) may be about the same,” a Proton distributor told The Malaysian Reserve.

However, there is a main concern that a major price difference compared to the CBU X70, if any, will result in dissatisfaction among earlier buyers.

“Perhaps only the most premium variant — that with the sunroof — will be priced much higher compared to the previous premium variant. This will give more options to premium buyers,” the distributor added.

Proton has added one more colour for the locally made X70, Space Grey. It has also revised the red option from Flame Red to Ruby Red.

Cinnamon Brown, Snow White, Armour Silver and Jet Grey remain as colour options for potential buyers of Proton’s first and markedly successful SUV.