KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Proton has released more photos and details of the new S70, its upcoming sedan and its first all-new one since the Persona in 2016. Based on the Geely Emgrand, it’s being touted as a C-segment competitor, taking on the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla—marking the company’s return to the segment since the Prevé was discontinued in in 2020—while undercutting them in price.
Priced like City, sized like Civic
Unfortunately, the national carmaker has yet to reveal that price, nor has it announced a launch date. However, officials have told us the car should be priced to compete with the B-segment Honda City and Toyota Vios, so expect to pay somewhere in the region of RM80,000 to RM100,000. A total of four variants will be offered, these being Executive, Premium, Flagship and Flagship X.
Proton contends that the S70 will be size larger than those cars. According to Geely, the Emgrand—which the S70 is all but identical to—measures 4,638mm long, 1,820mm wide and 1,460mm wide, and it has a wheelbase of 2,650mm. That means it’s bigger in all dimensions than even the Corolla, and it’s wider and taller than the Civic to boot, although its wheelbase is considerably shorter than both.
Turbo engine, 7-speed DCT
The other advantage the S70 has over the City and Vios—and indeed, the Emgrand it’s based on—is the engine. In place of the Geely’s naturally-aspirated mill sits the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder from the X50. Here, it uses port instead of direct injection and produces 148hp and 223Nm of torque.
Paired to this is the ubiquitous seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, and during the preview event held earlier this month, the car managed to get from zero to 100km/h in just over nine seconds. The S70 continues to use the Emgrand’s MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension (no X90-style multilink rear axle here), albeit retuned to suit local roads.
Geely styling, Proton grille
Even though Proton had its chief designer Azlan Othman on hand at the event to talk about the styling, there’s no denying that the S70 is almost a carbon copy of the Emgrand. That means it shares that car’s conventionally handsome styling, including the shapely headlights, strong shoulder line, six-window glasshouse and full-width taillights.
The one uniquely Proton design cue is the “Infinite Weave” grille, which features a silver “Ethereal Bow” surround and diamond “pins” that Azlan said are inspired by songket patterns. These radiate outwards (instead of around the Proton badge like the X90), emphasising the S70’s already generous width.
As standard, the S70 will come with halogen headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels. You’d have to step up to the Premium model to get LED headlights and the LED taillight bar, which consists of 190 diodes and plays an impressive welcome and departure animation when you lock and unlock the doors.
The Flagship and Flagship X variants roll on 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels, and the blue car you see here also wears a locally-designed bodykit, although it’s unclear if this will be offered as an optional extra or will be bundled with a specific variant (likely the Flagship X).
High tech, but still no Apple CarPlay
The S70 continues to borrow heavily from the Emgrand on the inside, sharing that car’s modern, minimalist cabin. You get a clean horizontal dashboard, a full-width air-conditioning vent design, a tall and wide centre console and physical air-con controls (thankfully). You also get some soft-touch materials, but only on the dash; the doors are hard plastic with faux leather inserts (a material also found on the seats on all but the base Executive variant).
In terms of tech, you get a 10.25-inch instrument display and a 12.3-inch centre touchscreen, both shared with the X90. They run on ACO Tech’s Atlas operating system that includes the “Hi Proton” voice control. Unfortunately, the S70 still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Proton evidently insisting its buyers use the built-in apps instead. These big displays are only offered on the Flagship and Flagship X models, the others getting analogue gauges and an eight-inch touchscreen instead.
Elsewhere, the S70 comes as standard with an electronic parking brake and no less than six airbags, with the Premium model adding automatic air con. Stepping up to the Flagship nets you a powered driver’s seat (the passenger seat is still manual), a Qi wireless charger and a 360-degree camera system with a cool 3D view function. The only feature the Flagship X adds is a sunroof, which comes with a manual sunshade and can only be opened and closed via voice; there are no hard buttons to control it.
During our time with the S70, we found that it offered plenty of head- and legroom—particularly at the rear—and the broad cabin allowed three adults to sit comfortably at the back. The boot is also commodious, carrying 500 litres (more than the Civic, Corolla and Vios, less than the City), and you can expand it by folding the 60:40-split rear seats down, something you can’t do in the Vios.
You have to pay extra for ADAS
One area where the S70 comprehensively trumps its Emgrand sibling is in terms of safety features. It’s available with the full complement of driver assists, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist for Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. Proton says these features are improved over the X70 and X50, providing smoother and more immediate intervention.
Other features on the list are traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, door opening warning, automatic high beam and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Unfortunately, as is becoming tradition for Proton, these items are only offered on the Flagship and Flagship X variants. The Executive and Premium models don’t even get AEB. — SoyaCincau