The covers are officially off and we can finally share everything there is to know about the new flagship Proton SUV.
One of the biggest debates that has been raging online is the speculation as of the pricing, but it must be said that at the prices listed below, the X90 has undoubtedly shook that market:
- Flagship: RM152,800
- Premium: RM144,800
- Executive: RM130,800
- Standard: RM123,800
The third Proton model under the X series after the X50 and X70, the X90 almost checks all the boxes for anyone looking for a decent SUV for their family, or even to be driven in because the 6-seater Flagship model is actually quite comfortable to be driven in or to drive, as this writer found out during a press test up to Genting. Check out the video below:
But before going any further with this article, it is important to understand that the cars we drove were pre-production models. So there were things about it that were not quite up to mark, such as the fact that the wind and tyre noise was quite audible inside the cabin, and power seemed to be lacking as the car simply did not have much torque to rely on when climbing up Genting Highlands.
So it was a bit of a relief to know that the cars we drove were pre-production models, and the cars that will be handed to customers will be better, or so that’s what we were told by Proton’s engineers during a Q&A session after the drive.
But there’s much more to the X90 than just that:
There really isn’t much to say about the design of the X90 that has not been said already. It is slightly different than the Geely HaoYue which it is based on and Proton did have some say in the design direction of the X90 but this was mostly around the front end where the now iconic ethereal bow has a more prominent presence.
As compared to the X50 and X70, the grille features a diamond like design which Proton says has been inspired by a “kain songket” and calls it the infinite weave.
On the inside, there’s the usual updates which we found in the X70 some years ago as well. Such as a new steering wheel design with the Proton logo placed in the middle.
During the first preview event held about two weeks prior to the press drive, Proton said that the interior of the X90 is sure to surprise. Proton’s Head of Design Azlan Othman had described it as a “well appointed interior”, and we believed him because the interior truly looked and felt good.
But after viewing it under the sun and spending time in it, it must be said that the interior is more than just good, it is the best interior ever seen in a Proton.
Unlike the interior of the X70 that was staid with some boring faux aluminium trimming that felt hollow when explored in detail, the interior of the X90 has none of that.
Well appointed is an understatement with the soft touch plastics, premium stitching and well-built switches. In fact, the interior feels like it belongs in a RM200,000 car. And even though it is not as well put together as a Mazda, it is pretty close. In our opinion at least.
Families will appreciate the overall spaciousness too. It does not matter if you pick the six of seven seater, space is generous. An industry colleague of ours took the third row seats on the way down from Genting, and his 170cm frame was quite comfortable. The only issue with having anyone seated in the third row is that booth space takes a hit and with the third row seats in place there’s only enough space for three to four small to medium sized baggage.
We also like the fact that every passenger gets an air-conditioning vent (roof mounted for the rear passengers) and each also gets a dedicated Type A or Type C USB port. The X90 is definitely well suited for life as a family car.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen entertainment system dominates the dashboard and provides a crisp, clear readout of all the necessary information. There’s no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but Proton is already finding it difficult to make a case against having those system so we suspect these two must have features may crop up in future models.
Having said that, you will have to rely on the onboard Atlas navigation system, which, as we found out, is not the sharpest tool in the GPS shed. Google Maps and Waze are lightyears ahead in terms of accuracy and for providing real time traffic updates.
On the topic of digital meter panels, there’s also another full digital panel that serves as the instrument cluster. It too offers clear readability but there’s just one complaint here in that it can be quite confusing at first. There’s just too much information on display at any given time, so it does require some getting used to. On that matter, the X70’s instrument panel is easier to read when driving.
On the flipside though, the clarity and sharpness of the X90’s reverse and 360 cameras will put some luxury cars to shame. It’s one of the best in the market right now.
The X90 is powered by the same 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine as found in the X70 MC. It is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with power being sent exclusivity to the front wheels.
The engine in the X90 may be the same as the X70 MC, but here the engine is backed up by a belt-started generator (BSG) that basically makes the X90 a mild hybrid.
Proton calls the system the EMS, which stands for Electric Motor Synergy, and you will find that badging under the wing mirrors.
The entire EMS system is made up of the generator, a DC to DC generator, a lithium-ion battery placed under the boot floor, a battery management system, a brake energy recuperation system and a control system to manage the hybrid module.
By itself, the engine produces 177PS and 255Nm of torque. But with the hybrid system added on, the X90 puts out a further 13PS and 45Nm of torque for a total system output of 190PS and 300Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed wet dual-clutch gearbox.
Proton claims that the increase in power allows 10% better acceleration and reduces CO2 emissions by 13%.
One of the key features of the powertrain is something called the ‘Smart Glide’.
Designed to improve efficiency, Smart Glide disengages the gearbox when coasting between 30 and 120km/h for smoother driving. And the engine even switches off at below 15km/h when coming to a standstill to improve fuel economy.
The great thing about this system is that you don’t ever feel it working in the background, and because the meter panel is completely digital, you can’t tell when the engine is switched off either. Most people will be hard pressed to feel it working, such is its smoothness.
The X90 is by far the most premium car Proton has ever made. The interior is well built and spacious as well and it is a great car for families and executives alike. It offers all the features you like and big families will appreciate the copious amount of legroom that the third row seats have to offer.
It also offers all the driver assistance systems that are expected of modern day cars such as autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, intelligent cruise control, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert (a first for Proton), and the usual passive safety systems as well.
And now with prices starting from just RM123,800, there is no doubt that the Proton X90 is the new flagbearer for the Malaysian SUV segment and currently the best value for money SUV currently in the market.