Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Proton X70 adds touch of class to Malaysian carmaker’s return

This SUV might not stand out against flashier Chinese offerings, but its a gem on the move.

Proton’s pay-off line is “affordable luxury” and after spending a week in the flagship X70 Premium X, we can most definitely vouch for the luxury part.

The affordable part is a slightly harder sell as its price tag of R639 900 is out of most motorists’ reach. But there is no denying that the X70 offers a lot of car for that money and lest we forget … a fairly luxurious one at that.

For a carmaker looking to get back into the South African market with a big bang, the X70’s styling is probably a bit too conservative to stand out from the crowd flooded by flashy Chinese offerings. If it wasn’t for the big “Proton X70” lettering on the side of our dealership test car that spent a week at The Citizen Motoring, you’d have forgiven people for not noticing that it’s any different from the other seven modern day SUVs next to it.

Proton X70 South Africa road test
Brown Nappa leather works well inside the Proton X70.

Elegant interior

The same applies to the cabin. Making up for the lack of immediate wow factor is elegant finishing.

Brushed aluminium on the fascia, centre console and around the door handles, soft-touch black leather panels and piano black inserts all combine very well with the model-specific brown Nappa leather seats to lend the Proton X70 Premium X a generous touch of class. Adding to the comfort of the driver is a driver’s seat with electric lumbar support along with seat ventilation, multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel and fully digital instrument cluster.

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You could argue that the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is maybe a bit small by modern day digitalisation standards. But taking into account all the other creature comforts, along with the nine-speaker Kenwood sound system it is hooked up to, the size-issue dwarfs in the overall picture.

There is no shortage of leg and headroom in the second row, while boot space is very generous.

Should you have reserved your opinion of the X70 up until when you press the start button, you are bound to make up your mind during the drive. All the shining lights of the bells and whistles of the influx of SUVs at value-orientated price points often make buyers overlook a crucial part of the car – the drive. Not so with the X70.

Proton X70 Premium X
The Proton X70 Premium X rides on 19-inch alloys.

Proton X70 a pleasure

Once you experience the drive, you will appreciate the fact that the Proton X70 was built on the same platform as the Volvo XC40. The ride is solid and the steering a pleasure, which smacks of a well-built car.

It is powered by the same 130kW/255Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the smaller Proton X50, with the buttery smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sending the twist to the front wheels.

Like the X50, its big brother the X70’s fuel consumption is probably our biggest gripe. A week of city traffic with very little open road driving resulted in fuel consumption of 10.6 L/100 km, which is not great.

Fuel consumption apart, there is very little not to like about the Proton X70. It is classy, comfortable, spacious, boasts a jam-packed list of specifications and most importantly, is a pleasure to drive.

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