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.

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.

What’s It Like Owning A Hand Me Down Kia Forte?

Car ownership comes in many ways, you can get a new car, purchase a second-hand car or be given a car by someone. That’s what I got, a nine year old Kia Forte SX that was passed down by my parents, why? Here’s the story and review of my very own 2011 Kia Forte SX, nicknamed “Big Red”.

Big Red is our blog cover photo

This is actually my second car, after my parents decided on getting a brand new car, a 2019 Toyota Vios, it was the survival of the fittest for then current our fleet, and the one who lost, was my original car, a 2003 Hyundai Getz. After saying my farewells and paying respect to it, I was given my mum’s 2011 Kia Forte SX. So what is it like having a hand me down car, it can’t be that bad right?

Overview of family and my ownership

The car was originally bought brand new from the dealer by my mother, a school principle. I remembered the car costing around RM 90,000 inclusive of all taxes, this particular model is the SX (the badge is now XS because the body shop glued it wrong). What we got was a 1.6 litre engine, keyless entry, 17-inch wheels, body-kit, reverse camera and a basic Bluetooth system. a 2.0 litre version was available and the only difference was seat materials and six airbags, the 1.6 only got two. The car was ordered in light silver metallic, but more on the paint later

The car is big, very big, rivalling the Toyota Corolla and other similar segment vehicles, the design, despite being almost 10 years old, holds up well, adding daytime running lights does make it look more modern, but the general look is perfectly proportioned. The car now has 142,000 kilometres on the odometer, its been driven hard as a daily work driver of a teacher, a road-tripper and by me from my recent ownership and college days with no on the road breakdowns throughout its nine years.

What I’ve done to it

Since it was handed down to me back in 2019, of course all the school teacher vibes had to go. The car was originally silver, but after years of dings, scratches and student bag packs grinding on the paint, we decided to repaint it red, but not the factory Kia red, which was a bit dull, we went for Mazda’s red. Despite repainting it almost three years ago, the paint has again endured abuse from heavy stone chipping and again, more back pack zippers. I gave the car a good polish and wax to make the paint pop again and regularly wash it to maintain the shine, since I park directly under the hot sun, I don’t want the paint to fade. the wrongly glued XS badge makes mine unique and perhaps the only one, unless someone else rearranges their badge.

The next thing I tackled was the wheels, for some reason stock Kia wheels are extremely easy to bend, or that my mother hit every single pothole on the road. After countless of rim maintenance and one huge accident that completely chipped a huge chunk of the rim, I immediately changed to an aftermarket set, thin spoke black wheels makes the car look good and “ganas” according to the tyre guy. Despite my best efforts, they also have been scratched slightly, ah Malaysian roads. The original rims didn’t look that bad, but I have heard about Kia wheels not being that strong, I recall, only a few months after re-shaping the wheels, it got bent again, I mean wheels can’t be that sensitive right? I didn’t change the wheel size because that would mean changing the tyres, so it’s still riding on the factory measurements.

The final thing I added was a huge bunch of Art of Speed stickers, why? because it adds more power of course! Other than these mods, the Kia is completely stock, any replacement parts such as absorbers and mounts are either Kia parts or OEM spec.

Engine and performance

The 1.6 litre Gamma engine is not by any means powerful, this is a car from 10 years ago after all, but its not painfully slow either. The engine makes about 125 horsepower and it has a decent amount of torque, while quite zippy and peppy driving alone, fully loaded, the car does struggle to pull out and overtake others. attached to this engine is a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, though I’d personally use the gear stick to switch between gears. With the two extra gears (I believe the older models only had a four-speed), the car gets good fuel economy, but then again, that is based on your driving, plus a car of age, is going to be a bit tired and worn out. I average around 10 litres per/100km.

A recent trip I took from Kajang to Penang at legal highway speeds with a full tank of petrol along with 3 other adults and luggage drained the tank to its half mark, which is pretty good considering its age. Cruising speed is fine at steady below 3000 rpm at 100 km/h. The wheels are 17-inches wrapped in 215 width, 45 height tyres, while they look good, they are prone to curb rash and pothole scratches.

Interior and Practicality

The interior, while already at almost 10 years of age, holds pretty well. Plastic everything is common on cars from this era, but the panels line up well though scratches will be common if you keep rubbing it with sharp or blunt items. One thing to complain about, which is rather strange is that the corner air vents have cracked, long before I owned it and parked under the harsh sun, the corner air vents also have very limited adjustments. The seats and cloth covered door panels are made from the same material and pattern, they’re soft, comfy and disperse heat better then leather covered ones.

Cheap plastic?
Quality fabric

The steering wheel is firm and round, as it should be, and it has the usual driver controls you might expect, mostly corresponding to the radio and telephone. The gauge is cluster clear and very red, a theme for this car, the speed is right in the centre, and is flanked by the fuel gauge and RPM gauge on either side. The vehicle information is basic, hit a button on the left of the steering wheel and it can tell you the engine temperature, fuel consumption, trip-meters, range and other less important information.

The radio is the standard Kia head unit and is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity but JUST for your phone. The system is very basic, so the only thing you can do is accept calls, yes, you can’t even call people because there is no key pad, you can redial the last number by pressing the answer button on the steering wheel. This is by far the most basic Bluetooth phone system I’ve ever seen, I’m sure cars back then had better systems? But you get what you get, along with that is an aux jack, a USB port and a cigarette style outlet, all presented in one panel under the radio. One good feature is the reverse camera mounted on the automatic dimming mirror which is helpful since the rear-view is a bit block by the parcel shelf angle, you also get automatic mirrors that fold by a press of a button inside (it doesn’t fold automatically when you lock it).

The centre console has plenty of space for any types of small to medium sized items, even the armrest storage has a good amount of space to store a small water bottle though it does get quite warm inside, this is also where you can charge the car’s key, which is a standard Kia/Hyundai key with your basic lock and unlock, honk and boot opener. There’s also a manual key if the fob runs out of juice.

The large exterior translates to a very spacious rear interior, the rear seats are big and as a fully grown adult at 173 centimetres (standard Asian people height) I can fit very comfortably with plenty of leg and head room, and this is considering the front seats are adjusted to my specifics, the car can easily fit three adults comfortably. However, another fault of this car is the lack of rear air vents, despite having ample room at the back, you only get the four air vents in front, not very fun for rear passengers, what’s more, the rear windows don’t roll fully down because of the rear door design.

Keeping with the big car theme, the boot gets the same treatment, open the lid with the key or latch because there is no button on the lid itself, and you are treated to a spacious 415 litre cavern to put several luggage and other types of bags or things, folding down the rear seats requires you to pull the tabs in the boot. Under the mat, which has this annoying hump for the spare wheel, is a full size spare with the toolkit.

Driving it

Mind you that because I’m an unemployed fresh graduate, I don’t have the financial stability to afford four tyres of the same brand, I’m currently using Goodyears in the front and a Taiwanese branded tyre in the back.

Driving the car is relaxing, because of the space and comfort of its soft sprung suspension, you get along with the road quite easy. on the other hand, the NVH can be a bit jarring, this might be because of my tyre choice, but it does get pretty loud, especially on older rough roads, you definitely need to turn up the radio volume to hear it clearer, though not defeating to the point of not being able to converse inside the cabin, better tyres and sound insulation should keep the NVH down.

Acceleration is not fantastic, it does respond if you mash the pedal, but being a 1.6, it feels a bit sluggish. Unloaded, the Kia is peppy enough to get up to highway speeds quickly, using the manual mode does help a bit. The car has two ways to operate manual mode, you can use the very loud ‘clacking’ plastic shifters or the gear lever, gear changes can be felt, especially at lower gears, but the shifting is not delayed rather actually quite responsive and fun.

Overall, the driving in both open roads and city crawling is not compromised, the car (or at least mine) doesn’t vibrate, rattle or sputter. At 140,000 kilometres, the car is due for some component replacement such as the timing chain and engine mounts but otherwise, I have never had any experience of major breakdowns, not yet of course.

Maintenance

Korean car parts are expensive, and this Kia is no different, as it gets older, parts will become less available and you can only resort to other manufacturers that make OEM spec parts. For a car that’s been around with the family since new, it has had no major breakdowns throughout its warranty and after warranty ownership. A part from the dings and scratches, there were a few things that had to be replaced:

  1. Air-conditioning system: RM 900
  2. Keyless entry system (broken when the car was repainted): RM 2000
  3. Absorber mounts: RM 250 each

Now you can discuss whether I paid too much for the parts, but they are just simply expensive, specific parts can cost even more too. Expect to see a cost of RM 250 for suspension components and over RM 500 for more complex things such as engine mounts (not inclusive of labour of course). Always consult a trusted mechanic and head over to forums to see what are common issues with the car, I’m telling this because my car does not have any serious issues yet. Oil change maintenance depends on what type of fluids and brand you/your mechanic use, I spend around RM 300-400 ringgit changing the oils and various filters. Regular timely maintenance is necessary to keep your car running longer, but then again, that is a no brainer, right?

Verdict

Is this a good car? well yes, it is, a huge upgrade from my last one. If you’re looking to get one, I suggest to find a similar 1.6 SX like mine, with the six-speed and body-kit, though if you don’t want to live with the larger wheels, there is a base model EX Forte with no body-kit and smaller wheels, which seems to be more common.

Any kind of issue will pop on a car that’s almost 10 years old, it’s just a matter of how good of a deal you will buy yours second hand and how you maintain it. With that, Big Red will be in my possession until it literally breaks in half, what will my next car be? we’ll see.

What’s Good:

  1. Large interior space
  2. Good practicality
  3. Decent fuel economy
  4. Decent performance

What’s Bad:

  1. Rudimentary Bluetooth
  2. Expensive spare parts
  3. Rear windows don’t fully wind down
  4. Rather loud cabin sound

Comment below if you need more feedback on the car and check out our YouTube channel for the review!