Speed, safety and style: What it’s like to be behind the wheel of new Proton X50

We finally get to see if the X50 is worth all the hype. -- Picture courtesy of Proton
We finally get to see if the X50 is worth all the hype. -- Picture courtesy of Proton

PETALING JAYA, Oct 2 — Even before the car was officially named, the Proton X50 was the talk of the nation.

Since Proton announced its brand-new SUV on Malaysia Day, the vehicle, its features and most notably, the price has been the talk of the town.

While Proton has remained tight-lipped about the details of the highly-anticipated car up to this point, with the price still to be confirmed, we found out what it was like to sit inside and drive the three-cylinder X50 during a media preview at the Sepang International Circuit yesterday.

During the preview, Proton gave members of the media and special guests a chance to test out the performance of the vehicle through multiple tests including an all-out drag race to test its speed, driving through a slalom, with first-hand experience to some of its new autonomous features.

Under the hood

Putting your newly-released car up against favourites in the SUV segment like the Honda HR-V and BMW X1 is pretty brave.

The car manages to outpace its competitors. — Picture courtesy of Proton
The car manages to outpace its competitors. — Picture courtesy of Proton

In this case, however, it paid off for Proton as the X50 more than held its own against its competitors on Sepang’s iconic race track — leading comfortably during the 200 to 300-metre stretch with its Geely and Volvo co-developed engine.

The car is capable of completing a century sprint (0-100 km/h) in just 7.9 seconds, with its hefty output, as the range-topping flagship variant — the X50 TGDi — packs a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine 177 Hp and 255 Nm of torque thanks to the usage of direct injection.

The Standard, Premium and Executive variants will be equipped with a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine with port injection with 150 Hp and 226 Nm.

Both engines on all four variants of the Proton X50 are paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Coupled with its speed, the X50’s handling is extremely smooth. — Picture courtesy of Proton
Coupled with its speed, the X50’s handling is extremely smooth. — Picture courtesy of Proton

Gear shifts were smooth when accelerating down the track with very little noise, vibrations or harshness (NVH), as Proton has made a quieter engine for a better drive with improvement to more than 10 parts to specifically combat NVH.

With these improvements, there were close to no annoying vibrations or sounds coming from the engine when driving.

The car is also suited for different types of drivers as it can be set to three modes: Normal, Eco and Sport, while the retuned steering system can also be set to four different modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport and a linkage between two modes.

Autonomous safety

Arguably one of the biggest plus points of the Proton X50 would have to be the fact that it is the only car in its class with “Level Two Autonomous Driving.”

Level two vehicles are able to assist with functions like steering, acceleration, braking, and maintaining speed, although drivers will still need to have both hands on the wheel to be ready to take control if necessary.

Driving just became a lot easier with the autonomous features in the X50. — Picture courtesy of Proton
Driving just became a lot easier with the autonomous features in the X50. — Picture courtesy of Proton

The X50 is filled with higher-end technology than the Proton X70 with every safety feature and advanced driver assistance systems (Adas) that it’s big brother has, and more.

With intelligent cruise control (ICC) and active park assist (APA) features, driving through long traffic jams and getting out of tight parking spots will be a thing of the past with this car.

Just imagine it, all you’d have to do in a jam is hold the wheel as the car is able to detect and match the speed of the car in front of you — and brake if necessary — while keeping a safe distance.

On top of that, the car also comes with other road safety features such as lane keep assist, lane departure warning, intelligent high beam control, blind spot information system, forward collision warning and even autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection to keep everyone on the road safe.

Premium feel

If the sheer power and safety of the car isn’t enough to entice you, it’s looks will.

The car looks stunning in red. — Picture courtesy of Proton
The car looks stunning in red. — Picture courtesy of Proton

It’s a genuinely good-looking car that has a real modern and premium feel to it, as it oozes both aesthetic and aerodynamic style with its sharp and distinct lines with it being closely based on the Geely Binyue and fighter jet design.

For example, the X50’s quad exhaust system was made to resemble the thrusters on a fighter jet, with the wheels on the Flagship variant also made to mirror a jet’s turbine engine.

Even the triple-light guide taillights, which were taken from the Geely Binyue, were made to look like a pair of fighter jet wings.

On the inside, the car is just as beautiful and jet-inspired as well, as elements like the gear shifter and air conditioning vents resemble parts from a jet fighter.

The interior called the “Enveloping Cockpit” sports a stunning black and red design, with a futuristic seven-inch LCD instrument panel and even a panoramic sunroof as well.

A look at the interior of the X50. — Picture courtesy of Proton
A look at the interior of the X50. — Picture courtesy of Proton

Other elements include automatic air-conditioning, an electronic parking brake, second-row air vents with USB charging ports, and a digital instrument cluster display.

The Proton X50 comes in six colour options, with the Standard variant coming in Snow White, Armour Silver and Ocean Blue, and the Executive variant adding on the Jet Grey and Citric Orange options, while the Passion Red colour is exclusive to the Premium and Flagship variants.

Prices and further details are expected to be announced within the next week.

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