GKUI was one of the key phrases of the day, and it means Integrated Cockpit Information System (I know, but don’t ask). For buyers, this is a major talking point, and delightfully featured in all variants of the X70.
What is it?
Basically the way you and the car communicate, whether to change vehicle settings or get information from the internet, for example. Two things stand out: connectivity, and voice command.
The interface is an 8-inch colour touchscreen with 1280x720 resolution. It really is like a smartphone screen as gestures like pinch-to-zoom works, and you can drag tiles to suit your preference. Also, there are themes you can choose, as well as set a wallpaper for the background.
This one took me by surprise, somewhat. Was initially expecting that access to the internet was via your smartphone, but the X70 also incorporates a SIM card. Actually, the SIM card is not slot into the car like how it is with your smartphone; instead it is embedded into the car. This gives the car 24/7 connectivity with LTE speeds. Currently Proton is working on a deal with Celcom as data provider, but unsurprisingly Proton is also talking with other providers. The way I understand it is there will be a monthly data limit for free, with extra data requiring, well… extra payment. No details on the amount for subscription at this point of time.
The embedded SIM also turns the car into a mobile hotspot.
There’s a built-in storage of 16Gb; the sound system includes 9-speakers with amplifier and subwoofer (for top-spec, others get eight speakers without woofer).
Is six USB ports enough? Your head should be nodding ‘Yes’ in response; the six are located at the side of the centre console (2x), the rear of the centre console (2x), inside the centre console (1x), and near the rear-view mirror (1x). In case you’re wondering about the latter, it’s for convenient and neat installation of a dash-cam which requires USB power.
Proton engaged the service of Nuance Automotive for this, an American firm which also provides the voice command for Mercedes; and we will also experience it in the soon-to-be-launched A-Class. So yes, this is how ‘premium’ Proton has gone. As you may already know, it even wakes up to a ‘Hi Proton’ greeting, like the German brand’s ‘Hi Mercedes’.
For someone who actively talks with machines (with Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant), I find the voice command function in the X70 very impressive. It’s quick, and you can talk over it to issue a new command. However it only can process one command at a time, unlike Google Assistant which can accept two commands at the same time and execute them in order.
It does process indirect voice commands too, though. So if you say “I’m hungry”, the system (there are two voices in total to choose, the other being a man) will determine your location and scour the internet to list down nearby eateries. Or you could say “I’m cold” and the air-cond will be cranked up. Say “I’m still cold” and the car will set a lower temperature. This was all demonstrated during the presentation, so we know it works.
Does it do more?
In normal circumstances, this query may suggest that you’re too demanding but as it turns out the voice command can do more. On top of controlling the air-cond, phone and audio system, voice command will also reach into some vehicle controls like opening/closing the windows and sunroof.
Hang on, does it support Apple CarPlay?
No, it does not. The operating system is Android-based and the touchscreen will mirror an Android phone via a cable, but iPhone users are out of luck. Having said that, it’s still a propriety system so don’t expect to be able to download apps direct to the car. Which means that Android Auto is not featured.
This also means that the native navigation system is on Baidu Maps. Waze is possible via cable mirroring, although I am told that it’s in portrait orientation within the 8-inch screen. I cannot confirm this, however, due to not having a cable, or even an Android phone during the test. Also, Baidu Maps incorporates real-time traffic status feeding off HERE (the mapping services company now owned by German companies that include BMW and Mercedes).
[Read about pt.1, and the Proton X70's safety features here]