Variety is the spice of life. It is also one of the themes underlying the new Proton X70.
The national carmaker’s upcoming SUV injects some much-needed variety into its long stagnant model range. But that’s not the variety we’re referring to.
We all know by now that the X70 is essentially a Geely Boyue dressed in the tiger prints of Proton. We also know that it will initially be shipped in from China as a CBU until Tanjung Malim is ready for local assembly sometime next year. Put simply, the Proton X70 is a local adaptation of a Chinese-branded car that’s made in China.
Or is it?
That didn’t seem to be the message at Proton’s second session with the Malaysian press concerning the new X70, where the three VIPs introduced by name and designation hailed from China, Malaysia and Japan respectively.
Obviously there was Li Chunrong, the first person without a MyKad to be appointed as CEO of Proton. But seated beside him were Yoshiya Inamori, Vice President of Manufacturing, and Abdul Rashid Musa, Vice President of Sales and Marketing – the former roped in to imbue a Japanese sense of scrutiny in the production lines while the latter’s Malaysian charisma helps drive the X70’s appeal in an increasingly competitive local market.
But this isn’t the variety we’re referring to either.
While it is refreshing to see Proton’s upper brass sport a global front, it is the diversity in the X70’s genetic makeup that carries greater significance in the grander scheme of things. It’s certainly far from your average Chinese runabout, if you view it from the right angles.
Starting on the surface, the Geely Boyue on which the Proton X70 is based was designed by an Englishman who used to work with Ford and Volvo – the latter also owned by Geely. Peter Horbury’s strong European lines were given a Malaysian touch by Proton’s local design team led by Azlan Othman as the car transitioned from the Geely Boyue to the Proton X70.
Peel this multinational skin off and you’ll find that the car’s ABS, traction control and stability control systems are supplied by Bosch, giving the X70 a hint of German dynamics. The suspension itself is tuned by MIRA, an engineering firm based in the UK. And like most of Volvo’s T6 AWD models on sale today, the Executive AWD variant of the X70 rides on a system developed by BorgWarner of the USA.
The American influence does not stop there. One of the Proton X70’s biggest highlights is its GKUI infotainment system which offers Mercedes-Benz rivalling flexibility in voice command. The speech input technology is the work of Nuance. The Massachusetts-based tech outfit was responsible for the A-Class’s MBUX system after all.
Nuance’s voice command is one of three key pillars in GKUI. And this is where China’s expertise comes in. For starters, the Spotify-like music app built into the infotainment streams music from a platform owned by Tencent. And if you say: “Hi, Proton. I need to refuel”, GKUI will present a choice of fuel stations to navigate to after a quick search on its Baidu-supplied map.
Of course, Geely deserves credit for originality in many other positive aspects we’ve uncovered about the X70 so far. But there is never any shame to be had in sourcing the right ingredients from the right suppliers to create the right product. Even though the Chinese carmaker has yet to make an impact in the American and western European markets, it has created a truly global product that we can now call our own.
The Proton X70 is a car worth its hype. And we cannot wait to drive it on Malaysian roads and beyond.