2020 Proton X50 Overview (Flagship Tested)(Article Update)

27th of October Disclosure: I was invited to attend the launch of the new Proton X50 at Proton Kajang, the event was controlled and attendees were required to socially distance themselves. The test vehicle was also sanitized after each drive. The models that were displayed during the launch was the Premium and Flagship X50, with Standard and Executive being the two lower trims. The sales team believe that these two will be the hot sellers due to the features it offers at such a competitive price.

This article is just an overview of the new Proton X50 Premium and Flagship, it does not fully reflect any final thoughts I have on the car. A full, critical and detailed review of the car will be up soon, stay tuned!

This article has been updated after the X50 has been made available to me

Overview

It’s finally here, the car we’ve been waiting for almost a year? Or maybe more, this is easily one of the most anticipated and coolest car to come out this year, new Ferrari SP90?, bleh. The new Proton X50 is a smaller crossover SUV that focuses more on sportiness rather than big, soft comfort experience that the Proton X70 is made for. Like its bigger brother, the new X50 was originally born as a Geely, the X50 has changes to make it look like the rest of the current Proton line-up, with the new grille design and logo.

Exterior

The car obviously is smaller than the X70, similarly sized to a Honda HR-V and the Toyota CH-R. the overall looks of the car are fairly conservative and clean or as I would put it in my way, it looks very Asian, looking smoother than the HR-V but not quite up to the CH-R’s prominent styling (though some may say its very controversial). Daytime LED running lights are standard across the line, including the foglamps which are also LED for the Flagship model.

Engine and Power

Power comes from two types of the same engine, a 1.5 litre turbocharged 3-cylinder that makes 150 PS for the top three trims and a 20 PS bump for the Flagship model, bringing it to 177 PS, peppy for 3-cylinder. The same goes for torque, 226 Nm for the rest, and 255 for the top model. The power on the Flagship X50 hike is due to a direct injection system rather than a multi-port injection setup, as the name suggest, direct fuel injection delivers fuel much more efficiently and directly. All models come with four wheel disc brakes with red callipers for sportiness and 18-inch wheels are wrapped in 215/60 tyres, the two lower end models come with 17-inch wheels, though retain the same tyre width.

Now there has been debates on whether the 3-cylinder will cause or make a lot of vibration, since it that’s what 3-cylinders do, during my test, the cabin was well insulated and you don’t feel any vibrations at all, in fact, you don’t really notice that its a 3-cylinder powered car.

The only colour that’s interesting is Citric Orange and maybe Ocean Blue, the rest are a typical blend of silvers and whites and one top range models, Passion Red.

Interior

This is where I like being the most, I’ll be focusing on the top two trims because those were the ones I on display (and have been reviewed). Both trim levels get the same two-tone red over black leatherette interior, I’m guessing it’s not real leather (it’s something called leatherette), but it’s just as comfortable and soft, the top part of the car is plastered with red leatherette that is nice and soft to touch. The switches and buttons feel good to press with typical plastic buttons but a touch of silver trim lining around the edges, I’m guessing only the top models have these.

However, one nitpick is that you ONLY get a red and black interior, which doesn’t really go well with the other colours. It would have been a lot better if Proton offered a more neutral coloured interior colour or more options

Automatic adjusting seats are also standard, BUT, unfortunately it does not have cooled seats. The centre console is finished in a rather high quality patterned silver trim, along with the dashboard. The floating style centre screen is the prominent part of the centre console, with volume buttons right below the screen and climate control buttons below that, this makes the design look very minimalistic and clean. Moving to the the rear section, two cupholders and a small thin storage for area is readily open for you to use, and is lined with a layer of rubber matting, for easy cleaning. Under the rather heavy lid/armrest is a pretty sizeable storage area. The flat bottomed steering wheel feels nice and grippy, with plenty of buttons to navigate through the menus (the size of the buttons are quite perfect to my fingers at least) and it’s very easy to interact with. The X50 also has cruise control controls on the steering wheel, with Adaptive Cruise Control being a Flagship only feature.

Next up is the proton GKUI system, finally fully on and ready to use, the main screen houses 4 things to select from, these as your normal stuff like radio, navigation and weather, radio operation is nice and smooth and you can connect other forms of media to play through the speakers. The navigation, works the same from the x70, it’s very easy to navigate and everything is in front of you, the map quality is also good, showing road names and places. Selecting point of interest is also easy, the navigation is able to show near places of interest of your choosing, such as food, service centres and parking lots.

There are also a few options on the top left such as real time traffic, map type and zoom buttons, you can also pinch it but it’s not super responsive, the map also does this: The weather app does show real time weather forecast since this system is connected to the internet.

Inside the deeper menu, are all of the other functions like Bluetooth phone, some sort of proton member centre, your 360 camera, themes, videos and all are here. Sliding between menus works fluidly. In the settings, after the X50 slowly rolls up, features important vehicle things that you can customize or set depending on your preference, you can turn off individual safety features, set the door mirror folding, adjust audio settings and control the screen brightness and colour sensitivity

Just like a phone, you can move the apps into anywhere you want or adjust them accordingly to your comfort, though I did not see a way to take these apps into the main screen. You can also do the same thing on the main screen and select quite a limited number of other apps to be displayed. Weirdly there is a clean app similar to phones, suggesting that the system needs to be cleaned every once in a while to avoid lagging. Slide down the tray and you see a couple of more options, even a quick Bluetooth and Wi-Fi button. Overall the system is intuitive, smooth and easy to go through about.

The panoramic sunroof, while initially I thought was not really necessary, actually does bring more “air” into the cabin, you can control the cover to stop anywhere you want, the same goes to the glass roof itself.

Check out the new review to see the touchscreen and sunroof in action!

There isn’t much interior difference between the Premium and the Flagship, apart from a few blank switches that the flagship will fill up, the main difference is the ceiling controls, due to the Flagship having a sunroof, the control panel needs to accommodate those buttons, hence a slightly chunky design.

The interior is a spacious place, despite being a smaller car, you don’t feel cramped and with the driver seat adjusted to my height (173cm), rear legroom is not compromised at all. The rear also comes standard with USB ports and fold down cupholders. The USB and charging port for the front is cleverly hidden under the centre console.

The boot is large, easily able to fit two huge luggage without folding down the rear seats. Under the mat is your standard tool kit and spare tire. With the seats folded, you get more space to fit wider items because the centre section to the seats has no thick blockings on either end, but the seats don’t really fold flat. Overall, the interior ergonomics is neatly organized with an appropriate use of leather, plastic and other trim to make the car feel nice to be in.

Driving

Driving the car initially might be a bit hard, especially if someone isn’t used to seeing all digital gauges, but once you get passed that, you’ll find out that digital gauges are much clearer and more customizable to suit your needs. The vehicle comes with three modes, normal, sport and eco, and surprisingly sport mode really does make a difference to the car. Not only does the gauge cluster change colour and design, focusing on the tachometer, the turbo 3-cylinder vamps up on accelerating and gives you a brisk, yet smooth power delivery, easily giving you the advantage of overtaking anyone on the highway. While the X50 is aimed at being sporty, comfort and quietness is not compromised, the car was extremely quiet and lacked any sort of engine vibration. All of the advance driver safety worked marvellously too, the car is able to adapt in small town roads and respond well to its surroundings, you have to look at the video review to know what I’m talking about!

Features

Premium and Flagship models are basically the ones everyone should get, it comes with all the tech, kit and safety features you want. Starting with the infotainment system, while voice command, online navigation, online music and weather, smartphone connectivity and Bluetooth are standard across the line, vehicle status (some sort of app that checks the car’s system and other things) and remote control (not sure what this is yet) are only standard on the top two trim levels.

The same goes for safety features, and this time, even the Premium X50 doesn’t get all the premium stuff. Standard across the line includes Brake Assist, Auto Brake Hold, Traction Control, Stability Control (very important for sudden moves or slippery surfaces), hill hold and decent assist (stops the car from rolling back or front too fast). A tyre monitoring system and 360 camera are additional features available on the Premium X50, but the rest? That’s all only on the Flagship.

The Flagship model features advance driver assistance which includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (the car can try to brake for itself at certain speeds), Forward Collision Warning (stops itself from hitting something at certain speeds) Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go (smart cruise control able to tell speed and other traffic environments), Intelligent Cruise Control (I guess it’s really smart), Lane Keep Assist (car will keep you in your lane), Lane Departure Assist Warning, Blind Spot Information System, intelligent beam control (smart lights able to level themselves) Auto Park Assist and more parking sensors (on the corners of the car). That’s a lot more things you get, similar to a top spec X70 and all of these features does improve your driving and safety, the X50 even received a five-star ASEAN NCAP rating. Six airbags are also standard across the top three lines.

Pricing

This car isn’t that expensive, look at all the other automotive blogs and they all say that this car is very much competitively priced against all of its rivals, and it’s true. The car starts at RM 79,000 for the Standard model, RM 84,000 for the Executive, RM 95, 869 for the Premium and 106,000k+ (not OTR pricing) for the range topping Flagship (excluding optionalextras, you might need to ask a dealer about what is included in the price). Take a look at the HR-V, which starts at over 108k with not that much tech, and let’s not talk about European cars of the same segment as the X50, they’re either on a league of their own or not worth comparing because we don’t get the best ones.

Verdict

There was a huge hype about this car since it came out three weeks ago (during the original post write up), it’s still hyping, people are still booking the X50, especially the top two models. It’s cheaper than its rivals, a lot cheaper, I’ve heard stories people switching a Mercedes to this car. While 100k isn’t exactly a small number, you get plenty of features that other makes will charge more on their top trim level, plus it is rather sporty, not just the looks but the performance itself, switch to sport mode and the car does liven up and respond faster. The only things that I don’t like about the car is of course, no cooled seats, the premium and flagship’s seat colours. Like the X70 the, X50 is a good bargain to get all the modern tech at a much more competitive price.

Check our the full review on our YouTube channel!

Final Verdict

What’s good:

  1. Great value for features and tech.
  2. Comfortable and quiet.
  3. Good performance.
  4. Responsive touchscreen.
  5. Comes in orange.

What’s not so good:

  1. No cooled seats option.
  2. No interior colour choice.

The Perodua Kelisa Is Now Starting To Disappear

Remember the Kelisa? better known as the slightly bigger Kancil, what happened to them? I don’t see them as often anymore, even the converted Daihatsu ones, have they all been driven to the ground? or maybe they’ve been kept in a garage to be sold off as a future classic soon. Back in 2014, I almost got a blue two-tone manual Kelisa instead of Old Yellow. Let’s talk a bit about the Kelisa.

UK spec first gen Kelisa (we never got these wheels!)
Source: driveeveryday.me

The Kelisa was the third car made my Perodua (fifth if you count the Perodua Rusa and the Kembara), and is based on the then current Daihatsu Mira (L700). The Kelisa is the direct successor to the Kancil, which was also based on the same Daihatsu counterpart and both had animal names, though the name Kelisa, is named after the fish, Ikan Kelisa (Arowana) rather than something similar to a mousedeer (Perodua Kancil).

The fish it was named after
Source: National Geographic

Interestingly the Ikan Kelisa is the most expensive aquarium fish and according to Chinese culture, the gold and red coloured fishes are very auspicious. The Kelisa on the other hand, was not the most expensive hatchback during its time nor did it have any lucky traits, in fact, when it was sold in the United Kingdom, it was the cheapest new car on sale at only  £ 5,000.

Facelifted Kelisa
Source: Carlist

Throughout its six year run from 2001, the Kelisa had one design change during its mid life cycle, the early models had a more late 90s/2000’s fascia with round lights and an upside-down arched grille. Later models had a full grille that reached both headlights. Both designs retained the centre triangular shaped piece with the Perodua logo. Other than that, the car was an exact copy of the Mira L700.

Base models did not come with painted bumpers
Source: Wikipedia

The Kelisa came with a typical vibraty 3-cylinder engine, common for Peroduas at the time, you can opt for a 850cc engine or a slightly more powerful 1 litre engine. performance wasn’t the focus on this car, it was meant to be a cheap town runabout and it did the job well, Kelisas sold like hot cakes with trim levels varying from transmission type, trim and wheels. The EX (base), GX (middle) and EZ (top) models were the main line-up consisting of different seat materials, steel or alloy wheels and basic kits like a Bluetooth system. There wasn’t much that could be done on a car this basic, but Perodua did one thing to spice up the line-up, some uniquely coloured versions of the Kelisa, let’s get into these Special Editions.

Kelisa Limited Edition

This was the first special Kelisa to be released, the Kelisa Limited Edition was a two-tone coloured Kelisa available in three different colours, Sparkling Silver, Kenari Yellow and Royal Blue. These two-tone models are distinguishable by the obvious two paint scheme, leather seats and steering wheel and badging that denotes either GXL or EZL. How many of these limited editions were made? I have no clue, but these aren’t extremely rare, you can find them for sale on a few car sites with both pre and post-facelift models being offered with this trim level.

Kelisa Special Edition

Kelisa SE
Source: Unknown

Few years down the line, Perodua introduced the Kelisa Special Edition, a slightly more cooler version of the Limited Edition. These SE Kelisas were offered in only two colours, Ozzy Orange and boring Ebony Black. Besides the eye popping paint (Orange ones), the SE got you clear turn signal lights, because that was a thing in the early 2000s, sporty fabric fixed head-rest seats with Special Edition stitched into it, similar to an AMG Mercedes, sporty white gauges and to top it off, a sporty body-kit with no engine enhancements at all, sporty isn’t it? Jokes aside, the SE model actually does look cool, with the orange paint it does make the car stand out a bit more and the body-kit was stylish for its time. In addition to that, alloy wheels were standard. This is the Kelisa that I would find and buy if I planned to get one.

Kelisa Imago Edition

This final variant of the Kelisa was the Imago, now the word Imago has two descriptions, the first one is a shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu, the second meaning is the full and final stage of an insect’s life. I’m guessing that the Kelisa Imago was referring to the insect definition, not a 4.5 star rated mall in Sabah. It sort of makes sense since the car has bug looking eyes, but it was named after a fish, why couldn’t they just called it the Final Edition? The Imago came with its own special colour, just one, Metallic Pearl Jade. Other additional cosmetics you got was chrome door handles and locks, silver trim and seats with Imago stitched on. In 2007, the Kelisa was replaced by the Viva which also had various editions primarily focused on colours and trims.

Kelisas converted to Daihatsu Mira Ginos

These converted cars aren’t factory, but it’s worth mentioning since it is a part of the Kelisa Culture. The Kelisa was based on the Mira L700, naturally, many people would slap on Daihatsu badges and be “JDM bro”. But true JDM bros will convert their Kelisas into Mira Ginos, the Gino was a variant of the Mira that had a more classic front end styling, similar to cars of the 50’s. The Mira Gino was heavily inspired by the Mini Cooper, with the obvious light arrangements and chrome bumper, it looked even more like a Mini in its three-door body style form (not available here).

Daihatsu Mira Gino
Source: Wikipedia

I am told that Gino conversions are rather expensive, depending on how good the body panel swap is, and of course additional trim and features that you want to put, we even spotted a Gino Kelisa here on our Instagram page. Here are some true Gino Mira photos and how cool their mods can be (photos are credited to their owners).

Do you want one? well you should get one. Owning this small peppy car is a decent second-hand town runabout if you can get your hands on a decent condition one. I have stumbled upon a few adds of good ones that have been sold, most of which are the special coloured variants. Prices range from as low as RM 3,000 to the most expensive stock one I saw was at 15k, for a yellow limited edition model, there’s even a Gino converted model selling for 18k. You can check the listing from Carlist here.

While this Malaysian Mini Cooper (as many refer to due to the taillight resemblance?), the Kelisa has been both positively and negatively criticized, prominently by all three Top Gear presenters. While James and Richard appreciated what the Kelisa is, Jeremy Clarkson on the other hand, wasn’t to keen of it, so much so, he bought one off the showroom floor and mashed it with a sledgehammer. This video got so much attention, it was actually brought up by the Malaysian government and I believe resulted in Top Gear never to be aired on TV anymore, of course Jeremy had to ruin everything.

Here’s the videos below.

I would really love to test drive and review a Kelisa one day, these are cool cars that people taken for granted and sometimes completely forget about (excluding Kelisa fanclub people), some can’t even tell a Kelisa between a Kancil. This shows that the car did its job well, to be a cheap, simple transportation that people can drive to the ground and replace, these cars were never designed to be kept, as with many cheap cars, they were disposable, it’s even more evident by the fact that there aren’t many good photos of any Kelisa that I could use, you might have noticed that as I was explaining the different variants. The ones available are only through Carlist or other car buying sites.

Despite that, I think it’s a great car, especially the UK spec models with the cooler wheels. This could be a possible future classic, or something that us car nerds would get really excited if we see a clean one, just a few days ago I saw a Gino Kelisa which actually did put a smile on my face. Imagine being able to drive a Kelisa SE with only 600 kilometres on the odometer, now that’s concourse material! If anyone has a Kelisa that I could review, hit us up on our email!

2020 Proton X70 Premium 2WD Test Drive – The One You Should Get.

A few weeks ago I made a deal with a local Proton Dealer to see If I could do a review on the brand new X50, but because it won’t be available anytime soon, they offered me the next best thing, the 2020 X70 Premium 2WD. Now the X70 isn’t a newly released car but this is a first for us to review a 2020 model car. This review (more of a general overview and test drive) is going to cover the X70 premium and why you should get this particular model.

Overview

The X70 has been on sale for quite some time, but there’s always improvements to me made. For one thing, the AWD models have been dropped because nobody takes something like this to do off-roading and it’s now locally assembled here. The grille also has adopted the newest proton logo design.

Power comes from a 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder making 180PS and 300 Nm of torque coupled to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. the turbo and high torque figures does make the car feel a lot peppy. A 60 litre fuel tank is also at your disposal.

This premium model comes with all the safety and fun tech features for a good bargain, outside, these features include automatic follow me home LED headlamps and stylish 19-inch rims, the X70 looks the part of a compact crossover SUV, with contemporary and modern design. The only different between the premium X is a moonroof which really isn’t worth the premium to just have more unnecessary heat and light to enter the cabin.

The running boards say proton and is finished in a nice silver colour, the door opens to reveal a proton logo at night (not pictured), premium models also get a myriad of cameras dotted around the car, more on that later. Generally the outside hasn’t changed much since its launch, what makes the Premium model cooler is the interior.

Interior

Now I’m a huge sucker for brown coloured interiors because it just makes the car feel homey and comfortable. and this X70 has caught my attention, only the Premium models have it. The soft brown nappa leather just suits the car. Interior quality has improved immensely from previous model Protons, but this is expected. there’s a lot of soft touch materials on the upper parts of the interior though normal hard plastic is still present, but only on logical areas and near the bottom where your feet will mostly likely kick them. The silver touches and pattern trim details does make the car feel a lot more premium and nice to look at. the comfy seats are 4-way and 2-way lumbar powered.

The mirror, boot, light and gauge light controls can be found on the right along with nice small storage place, storage and space is plentiful inside the whole car

The climate controls, while a bit small, includes all the things you need such as temperature controls, fan speed, mode and defrost, all X70 comes with dual-zone climate control but the base model doesn’t have the ventilated seats, the best feature of this car.

The cooled seats work instantaneously and on hot days, which are almost everyday here, works fantastically. THIS should be a feature for all Malaysian market cars.

The electronic parking brake is straightforward and easy to use, below that is the auto hold feature which helps you hold the brake down when you’re stopped, this minimizes wearing down your foot and is a great feature once you get used to it.

The gear level is nice and solid, with Park being a button on top, it doesn’t have the usual pattern movement and feel but it feels natural to the hand and is more efficient to use, the gear lights are clear and there is an additional indicator on the gauge cluster. you can also switch to manual mode.

The premium X70 comes with front and rear parking sensors along with a 360 camera, making this rather big car feel small around tight turns and spaces, the camera is very clear and you can change the view to see what things you’re about to hit. The parking lines also move with the steering wheel making parking between spaces much easier.

The fully digital gauge cluster is crisp and clear, with fuel and engine temperature flanking on both sides. All of the controls and features of the cluster can be navigated using the steering wheel buttons, things like the trip-meter, tyre pressure monitoring, cluster settings and navigation can all be accessed and customized to your taste. There’s even an rpm gauge on the right side, which isn’t necessary in normal mode but a good plus for those who want to watch their engine speed.

By pressing buttons to the left of the gear level, you can switch to eco and sport mode, both giving a different design and look to the gauges, with sport mode having a noticeable change in the car’s acceleration and having the rpm gauge displayed more prominently for those fast gear changes you’ll be making on the 7-speed dual clutch.

Like I mentioned, storage is plentiful and neatly done, the centre console is finished in very pretty patterned and silver trim and the armrest storage is very large, it’s also ventilated so you can store items if you want them slightly chilled, the storage also includes your normal USB ports and a cigarette style outlet. There’s even storage and a USB port on your knees, big enough for a phone!

The centre screen is smooth and easy to use, it’s not too distracting because there are physical buttons for the normal things you use every day, premium models also come with a 9 speaker system boosted with an amp and subwoofer. Features in the screen include an app store, online music, smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, online music and online weather forecast, its basically like a phone on the dash. Options and settings are easy to change and your climate controls can be adjusted on the bigger screen, the ventilated seat options are also located here, did I mention this is the BEST feature?

Check out the video on our YouTube channel to see the voice command.

Now if you don’t fancy the voice command that can sometimes not hear you properly, you can also input an address on the keyboard, the slight slowness could be the lag from being an online map system, but overall inputting any destination didn’t cause any problems or frustrations.

A car of this size is expected to excel in rear legroom space and it does, I’m 173 centimetres tall and I have a ton of space for my legs and head to stretch out around, three adults can very comfortable sit back here and enjoy the brown nappa leather softness. What’s amazing is that the X70 did not skip the details and  trims on the back, you get the same silver touches and softness, rear vents are also standard and you can see a set of seat controls for the passenger seat in view, I imagine kids would love playing with the controls and annoying their parents.

Fold down the centre arm rest and you are greeting with the same patterned trim you get in front and cup holders, at the bottom, two more USB ports are included.

The 512 litre booth is massive unfolded and comes with a standard luggage cover to hide your things. Under the boot floor is a full-sized spare, tool kit and first-aid kit. The premium models include a power tailgate with a foot sensor, in case you have your arms occupied though the lift is quite high, expect some effort when trying to put in a heavy item.

Driving it

The car isn’t small, but with all the cameras around it, it feels a lot smaller than it is. Acceleration is responsive and with the turbo, it does kick in fairly good, especially in sport mode, where I felt a sudden surge of acceleration. Handling wise, it’s not a sports car, this is meant to be a comfortable family crossover, it holds corners well without any over-body rolling. Being inside the car just makes you feel good, the brown seats, the spacious cabin and the cooled seats just makes this a perfect car to drive even on terrible hot afternoons.

My test drive was a bit short, so I couldn’t give a full overview of driving it, but all of the buttons and switches are easily reachable, despite the climate control being very small. the Auto hold feature is a bit weird, especially if you’re used to holding the brake, which almost everyone is, slowly, you’ll get the hang of it or turn in off if it bothers you.

With all the safety features such as blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, brake assist and hill assists, it shouldn’t be easy to crash the X70. Overall, the driving experience was comfortable, a commanding view as with all tall cars and of course, cooled buttocks.

The verdict

This car is a jack of all trades for this segment, the features you get for the Premium include a list of advance safety systems such Lane Departure Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, hill hold and descent assist, Autonomous Emergency Breaking, Forward Collision System, Electronic Break Distribution, intelligent headlamps, six airbags and a few more that makes the car easier to live with. Most of these features are only available on the premium models, and for a price of 123,000 ringgit? This beats all of the competitors and it shows, you see plenty of these on the road.

Coupled with the soft, brown, beautiful interior, the responsive and clear infotainment system and the ventilated seats, the Proton X70 Premium is a very good, safe and comfortable alternative to its rivals. I’d buy one for the cooled seats alone, I mean, it’s hot here in Malaysia.

Final Verdict

What’s Good

  1. Pricing
  2. Comfortable
  3. Plenty of space
  4. Ventilated seats!
  5. Nappa brown leather

What’s Not So Good

  1. Small climate control buttons
  2. High lift effort for tailgate storage

Special thanks to Victorange Automobile Sdn. Bhd. and Mr Marcus Chan Beng Yong for giving Maximum Torque Malaysia the opportunity to test drive the 2020 Proton X70 Premium!

Watch the video on YouTube to see more of the car.