Review: Proton S70 – Sedan Done Right

Proton has come a long way since the launch of the first-generation Proton Saga back in 1985. They have evolved and adapted to current trends to ensure their survival in the ever-changing automotive market.

How? Well, we all know Proton’s collaboration with Geely to introduce models that can compete with other manufacturers. But does it stand out from the rest? We recently got to test out Proton’s latest model, the Proton S70. Now, Proton claims it to be a C-Segment sedan. This means the S70 is competing with the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Honda Civic.

However, the S70 is a rebadge of the Geely Emgrand sedan, which is a B-Segment sedan. So we don’t think that the S70 belongs in the C-Segment and it should actually be competing with the Honda City and Toyota Vios. But even then, is the S70 better than the two?

Visually, the car looks pleasing. It has a sporty yet elegant design with refined lines and curves. The LED taillights are something we really love because of their striking light bar that does a little dance when you unlock and lock the car. The front grille is adorned with chrome pin inserts and LED projector headlamps, which also does a little dance.

If you’re getting the Flagship X, which is the variant we drove, you get a sunroof. Not ideal for our Malaysian weather, but it looks cool. It also comes with 17-inch 10-spoke wheels wrapped in Goodyear Assurance TripleMax 2 tires.

There was nothing not to like about the S70’s visual cues because it is a pretty good-looking car. We were given the one in Teal Bayou Green, which is one of the best options because it brings out the elegance in the car. We managed to turn some heads too! However, the more popular choice is Marine Blue because it has a three-month waiting period.

Moving on to the interior. This is where we have some complaints. Now, the S70 measures 4,638mm long, 1,820mm wide, and 1,460mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,650mm. This makes it slightly smaller than the Emgrand but larger than the Proton Preve. This writer has owned a Preve before and would like to point out that the Preve had more legroom than the S70. For the driver, it’s no issue to adjust the seat to however you’re comfortable with. However, if you’re a rear-seat passenger, you may struggle as the rear legroom space is horrible.

For it to be a family sedan or a “C-Segment” sedan, this should not be an issue. We took our family for a drive, and they struggled to get in and out of the car. The driver and front passenger had to get out of the car and push the seats to the front to allow the rear-seat passengers to get out. If the ones sitting at the back are elderly, tall, and people, they might struggle a bit more. So we were very disappointed with the interior spacing. If it’s just the driver and a front passenger, it’s fine because you have the luxury of pushing your seats to the back.

Now on to the infotainment system. The S70 comes with a 10.3-inch instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Decent sizing compared to the TV screens that some cars nowadays get. The biggest flaw is that it does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and we absolutely hate this. If this were integrated, it would have made life so much easier. But not to worry, Proton has stated that these features will soon be added, and a simple software update is needed. Unless you own older models, then a hardware upgrade will be needed.

Adding to the frustration, the positioning of the infotainment screen on the S70 is rather annoying. We feel like it is too close to the air conditioning vents. If you are the type of person who relies on using your phone for Google Maps or Waze, it’s going to be an issue because the only option you have for a phone holder is the one with the suction cup that sticks to the windshield.

Although it can be done, it will leave a mark on the windshield. This writer personally uses the one that clips onto the air conditioning vents and that was a hassle because the pop-out buttons that are below the vents were in the way of the phone, and the infotainment screen was bulging out a bit that the clip could not fully be latched on. So we had no choice but to use the driver-side air conditioning vent. Which meant that the said vent was useless, other than cooling down the phone.

Yes, we know that there are many options when it comes to phone holders, but it is still a hassle to find one that suits this car perfectly.

Sometimes, physical buttons are the best way to go, in our books at least. But some somethings were not taken into consideration such as switching the drive modes, adjusting the air conditioning temperature, and operating the sunroof. You must go through the infotainment screen to do so.

The integrated GPS can be a little buggy as it stopped halfway while we were using it. But thankfully Proton’s voice command worked well so we were able to set the GPS again without messing around with the screen.

Now let’s talk power. The Geely Emgrand is powered by a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated inline-four petrol engine that puts out 102PS and 142Nm of torque. Proton S70 has a 1.5-litre turbocharged inline-three which is also found in the Proton X50. This pushes the power a little bit higher to 150PS and 226Nm of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

The S70 struggles a little bit when you hit the throttle because the power only kicks in after a few seconds. Only when it gets going, you will feel the power. We find it to be just enough. If you need a little bit more kick, you can switch it to Sports mode which sharpens the throttle response and the brakes become a bit more sensitive in a good way. However, the throttle can feel a little choppy at times but it takes getting used to. The auto-hold function works perfectly fine and you can play around with it to see which suits you best.

Another thing that we noticed is that the engine sound can get a bit loud especially if the car is idling. Inside, you won’t hear it that much unless you floor it, but when standing outside, it is very noticeable.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel feels comfortable and gives us the confidence to take corners and because of the front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam, the S70 takes corners like a champion. On the highway, Sports mode is the way to go, unless you’re stuck in traffic then we suggest switching it to Eco mode but around the city, Comfort mode would be the better choice.

When we picked up the car, we had a full tank and a total driving range of 777km. After all the driving and testing, we still had around 250km left. So it is safe to say that there will be no range anxiety when it comes to the S70.

For a car that is priced at RM94,800 (OTR without insurance), it comes with a decent amount of safety features. The ones that we used often were the Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention. And if anything were to happen, the S70 comes with six airbags.

The S70 1.5T Executive is priced at RM73,800, the Premium at RM79,800, the Flagship at RM89,800 and the Flagship X at RM94,800. We were amazed by how low the prices were when Proton first announced them.

The Honda City’s pricing starts from RM84,900 to RM111,900 and the Toyota Vios is from RM89,600 to RM95,500. So the S70’s prices are more affordable compared to the two competitors.

The question now is, would we get the S70? If we were willing to sacrifice legroom space, not having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, then perhaps we might get it. But this is just our two cents about it. Perhaps you, the readers, might have a different perspective about the Proton S70.


Engine: 1.5 litre turbocharged inline-three

Transmission: Seven-speed wet dual-clutch

Power: 150PS

Torque: 226Nm

Price (as tested): RM94,800

We like: Looks, Feel and Price

We don’t like: Lack of space, infotainment system, and choppy throttle

Fuelled by cigarettes, coffee and 90's rock music

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