Thursday, December 13, 2018

PROTON Officially Launches the Long, Long, Long Awaited X70 SUV - Prices Start From RM99,800 Onwards

PROTON has finally did it. They've officially launched the Proton X70 SUV. Their first SUV and their first Proton-Geely collaboration car. While most of us already know the details of the new SUV, Proton has made available to most important detail of them all - the prices for all the variants. We now know that the prices start at RM99,800 without insurance for the base 2wd model and it goes up to a reasonable EM123,800 for the full specced premium variant. The good news is that there is one price for the X70 throughout Malaysia. Those in Sabah and Sarawak need not pay any extra like they used to pay with all the cars sold over there! Great initiative by Proton here folks. You folks in Sabah and Sarawak can finally get a price similar to the people of Peninsular Malaysia.

The X70 is unique in terms of where it sits in the market. It basically introduces PROTON to a new market segment and Proton have stated that this move slightly upmarket is the key catalyst for the total rejuvenation of the brand. In not so many words, they are avoiding a direct confrontation with the other Malaysian car manufacturer by trying the waters of something in the RM100K+ region. Of course, not a Perdana but a more market popular SUV. 

Of course, there are the four variants  which should cater to some levels of affordability for the customers.... note the chart above for the prices.

According to Proton, both Proton and Geely really co-developed the product for the Malaysian market with input from China and Malaysia, to testing in Malaysia’s hot and humid climate and also the collaboration between local and international vendors. Proton wanted ensure a product that is perfectly suited to the needs of Malaysian and ASEAN car buyers.

PROTON also embarked on a comprehensive marketing plan to build an unprecedented level of excitement amongst car buyers via on-ground events, the launch of an online booking portal and giving the SUV its public debut at the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS). These efforts began in September and were further strengthened by social media campaigns that included a naming contest and numerous teaser videos on Facebook and YouTube. 

But in all honesty, we here do believe that Proton had taken things a little bit too far as it had taken this a little too far. One reason why you don't see us writing the same stuff over and over again as we've decided to only publish what is the final launch product. We here at MOTORING MALAYSIA do care about you readers out there and want to protect you from product fatigue (and the fact that we don't like writing the same thing over and over, and over, and over...and over again.....). So yes, unprecedented level of marketing for a a way....

More importantly, Proton has ramped up training activities for sales and service staff and the launch of the inaugural PROTON After Sales Service Competition (PASSC) were part of efforts to ensure everyone had sufficient knowledge of the new X70. One reason the reputation of Proton was in the doldrums prior to this was the fact that everyone had a notion that Proton's after sales service wasn't up to par. So the new management decided to upgrade their dealerships and service centres in terms of equipment and human capital. This we agree is a very good move.

There was an aggressive network expansion plan by inviting new investors to start PROTON outlets and offering generous incentives for existing dealers to upgrade their facilities to 3S and 4S centres. To date 115 plans for such centres have been approved with 71 already launched thus far this year.

"With over 10,000 bookings, it already has a good start so we will work hard to deliver on our product and brand promise,” said Dr Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer, PROTON.

“Deliveries of the Proton X70 will commence over the coming weeks as we want customers to get their cars as soon as possible. Some have had to wait for over six months, having given their name to dealers before bookings were even officially opened, so PROTON is thankful to them for their patience and incredible brand loyalty,” he added. 

Note that this first batch of X70 will be fully imported from the Geely factories in China. Sometime next year, expect to see a locally made X70 complete with a little more changes to differentiate things a little more in terms of local styling. 

Quite interesting times indeed. Proton has now decided to push into the more premium pricing segment and they've now entered the SUV market too. In terms of pricing, we do think that the Premium 2WD with its everything inside it specification is solidly priced at RM123,800 onwards. No other SUV or car at this price range gives you a talking car, a fully operating panoramic roof, a great looking and fitting interior. 

Personally, I would just get the entry level Standard and Executive 2WD variants. These are the best value for the money. I like that the RM115K AWD variant also. It seems to be priced low for something that could handle a bit of mud plugging. And you would be doing so in relative luxury with all the equipment inside. No other SUV would come in this affordable and give you AWD. This is also in terms of space inside. The car is a decent sized C-segment SUV. You are getting Honda CRV size and performance (it has a 1.8 turbo direct injection engine which is based on a Volvo engine in some ways) for the price of a HRV. 

We also like the notion of a basic car. The lack of nappa leather or leatherette, DRL and LED headlights aren't something which we really need. Fabric seats could be cooler under the sun while the lack of LED headlights means simple, cheaper to run over a length of time halogen lights which are actually bright enough for daily use actually (new style reflectors are better than what was made a decade or more ago). And since the base model can also talk to you or you can talk to it, would also mean that if you are lonely at night, without a companion, even the base RM99K X70 can entertain you. No need to pay over RM120K.

There will be naysayers who say that this isn't cheap enough or good enough. But we think that this is a good first effort by Proton and Geely. There are some arguments that the price could be better or that Proton should have chosen a smaller model that could be priced more competitively. But for what they've done with the hand that was given to them, I say that this is more than good enough.

So lets now start observing and those that are interested, place your bookings to get some early bird promos stated below.

More photographs are also down below

The Launch Offer and Promotion for Early Birds
Special value added packages were announced at the launch.

Four Special Packages
The Xtra Service Package offers free parts and labour for the first service as well as free labour for five scheduled service appointments within 100,000km or five years. 

Xtra Low Financing Package, offering low interest rates that start from 2.34% p.a. for qualified buyers.

PROTON will be the first national automotive brand to offer an unlimited mileage warranty as the Xtra Warranty Coverage Package will cover the Proton X70 for up to five years regardless of mileage. 

Premium connectivity experience the Xtra Data Package offers free internet data for five years (capped at 1GB per month).

“The Xtra packages offered will enhance the experience for owners by offering peace of mind, savings for servicing and financing as well as free data. PROTON will also create history by offering the Proton X70 at one price for one nation. This means East and West Malaysia car buyers will pay the same price for the same vehicle, making PROTON the first automotive brand to offer such a deal. It is our hope that by doing this, PROTON proves that a Malaysian product can be offered at the same price for all Malaysians regardless of where they live,” added Dr Li Chunrong.

The Proton X70 SUV Product Brief by PROTON

The Proton X70 is the first premium SUV introduced by a Malaysian automotive brand. To create it, PROTON and its joint venture partner, Geely, were guided by four distinct philosophies and the tagline ‘Intelligence That Inspires.’ Refined Design

The purposeful and energetic lines of the Proton X70 were penned by a team led by the Executive Vice President of Design at Geely, Peter Horbury and Geely Shanghai Design Chief, Guy Burgoyne. They collaborated with PROTON

Design head Azlan Othman and his team of designers who helped ensure Malaysian elements were incorporated in the design.

This is immediately noticeable in the silhouette, which was sculpted with explosive energetic lines inspired by the muscular and agile feline form of the Malayan Tiger, conveying a sense of explosive forward momentum. Headlamps, featuring daytime running lamps (DRL) create a distinctive pair of ‘eyes’ to reinforce the link. Other Malaysian touches can be found in the shape of the grille, which takes the shape of a traditional bow, as well as the horizontal elements used featuring a distinctive repeating pattern inspired by Malaysian craftsmanship, termed the infinite weave. The finishing exterior touch are wheels available in sizes up to 19-inches, adding more latent energy to the stance when at a standstill.

Inside, the interior has been described as The Haven and was designed as an area that promotes calmness. 

Information that is needed is clearly presented via displays customisable by the driver. Luxury touches abound with the use of metallic surfaces and nappa leather but there is also a lot of utility touches engineered in the design such as six USB ports to charge mobile devices and an air purifier system that filters out harmful gases and kills bacteria. The infinite weave pattern makes a subtle appearance on the door handles and speaker grilles to link the interior and exterior harmoniously.

Redefined Connectivity
With the rapid development of mobile communication technology, a revolution has begun in the way people travel, changing the auto industry’s understanding of what it means to be online. With the boom in autonomous drive technology, the auto industry is becoming ‘intelligent’ as vehicles evolve from being a means of transportation to a new intelligent mobility system.

With the launch of the Proton X70, PROTON has embraced this ethos and moved the goalposts for in-car connectivity. All variants will be offered with an advanced Integrated Cockpit Information System (GKUI) offering multiple user functions as well as the ability to stay connected to a mobile device. Featuring an embedded eSIM card, the system is preloaded with four apps offering services such as online music streaming, navigation, weather forecasts and voice recognition.

Access to the apps and other car functions is via an 8-inch Android based touchscreen interface with a 1280 x 720 full colour display with 32GB of internal memory space. It is also Wi-Fi enabled for mobile hotspot capability.

Connecting Proton X70 owners to their vehicles is Proton Link, which will use an individual ID that is assigned to every buyer. By keeping their smart mobile device connected to Proton Link, a profile of their journeys is created thanks to the on board telematics that records data such as distance travelled, fuel economy, journey times and even service intervals.

There is also a ‘find my car’ function that will be useful when parking in huge and unfamiliar parking complexes.

Aside from the connectivity functions, true hands free operations for a number of functions is possible thanks to advanced voice recognition software. The system is accessed by saying ‘Hi Proton’ followed by simple spoken commands that can operate the windows and air conditioning system and even access the navigation app to look for points of interest. By using an Android based operating system, the GKUI offers mobile device users using the same operating software full mirroring capabilities. Finally, the system is also upgradeable with free over-the-air (OTA) updates improving the user experience and keeping the apps current.

Responsive Performance
Powering the Proton X70 is an engine and gearbox combination new to PROTON. All four variants will be powered by a 1.8-litre Turbocharged, Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI) engine producing 184 PS at 5,500rpm and 285 Nm of torque from 1,700 - 4,400rpm to provide smooth yet efficient performance, proven by the energy efficient vehicle (EEV) status awarded by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

Drive from the engine is mated to the driven wheels via a 6-speed automatic (6AT) with switchable drive modes and a manual sequential shift. Drivers can select from Normal, Eco and Sport to fit their driving style and road conditions. By doing so the LCD combination meter will also change colour and display the most relevant information related to the drive mode selected.

The driving dynamics of the Proton X70 were developed by HORIBA MIRA in the United Kingdom. The company balanced the need for a dynamic driving experience with safe and secure handling and a comfortable ride with enhanced NVH levels. The Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, offered on the Executive AWD variant, was developed by Borg Warner and improves safety and handling in unfavourable road conditions.

Reassured Safety
As the Proton X70 is equipped with the most powerful engine of any Proton model, the Company focused a lot of engineering resources to ensure it had a high level of safety that can be divided into three layers. These are protective, preventive and cognitive and as a whole they form a comprehensive safety solution.

Standard safety equipment for all variants consists of six SRS airbags, rear seat ISOFIX with top tether anchorage, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Auto Brake Hold, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Hold Assist (HHA), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Emergency Stop Signal (ESS).

A 360 Camera is offered on Executive and Premium variants while Executive AWD and Premium specification cars also receive a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The Premium variant also adds an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) suite to the equipment list. The ADAS on the Proton X70 consists of active and cognitive safety systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Door Opening Warning System (DOW) and Intelligent High Beam Control (IHBC). 

The effectiveness of the comprehensive safety solution was proven when the Proton X70 was awarded a 5-Star safety rating in recent ASEAN NCAP tests.

Dato’ Abdul Rashid Musa (CEO of PROTON Edar), Dato’ Mohammad Zainal Shaari (Chairman of DRB-HICOM), Dr Li Chunrong (CEO of PROTON), Datuk Darell Leiking (Minister of International Trade and Industry), YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (Prime Minister of Malaysia), YAB Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Hj Mohamad Ali, Mr An Conghui (President of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and President and CEO of Geely Auto Group), Dato’ Sri Syed Faisal Albar (Chairman of PROTON), Dato’ Radzaif Mohamed (DCEO of PROTON).

PROTON X70 SUV Standard Variant Interior and Engine bay

Note the Standard Wheels of the X70 Standard 2wd variant compared with the X70 Executive (right)

Other Photos

X70 Premium photos

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