The new locally-assembled (CKD) Proton X70 has many great things going for it. Prices have been lowered, there are more features, and the engine has been updated to deliver better driving performance, paired to a new, more fuel efficient transmission.
You can read a summary of what’s new with the Proton X70 CKD here. Being a popular new car, there’s also a lot of hype surrounding the new Proton X70 CKD’s launch. That hype might give the impression that it’s a perfect car but it is not because there is no such thing as a perfect car for everyone.
Finding a perfect car is a bit like finding a life partner. What’s best for someone else might not be best for you.
You cannot expect to have BMW level sporty handling, Mazda level premium interior, Honda level spaciousness, with Perodua level maintenance cost. Again, it’s like finding a life partner. The perfect guy/girl, or in this case – car, exists only in your dreams.
Here are five alternatives to the Proton X70 that you should check out before deciding on your next purchase:
Honda HR-V: RM 108,800 – RM 120,800
- Minimum monthly repayment: RM 1,130 – RM 1,410
Same price as the Proton X70, but it’s so much smaller. How is the Honda HR-V still a worthy alternative? Hang on. For many people, the Honda HR-V is still better option, especially if you work or live in an area where parking spaces are tight.
The HR-V is B-segment SUV, which means it is one size smaller than the C-segment Proton X70. However, it fits as much, if not more than a C-segment SUV. The boot floor is also lower, meaning loading/unloading is a lot easier than the higher booted Proton X70.
How is it possible that a smaller car can fit as much as a bigger car?
The secret? Honda magic: a secret concoction of extremely space-efficient mechanical packaging. Think Japanese small apartment living life hacks, applied on a car.
Because it’s smaller, it’s a lot better suited for urban driving. In fact, it’s the perfect size.
It’s a lot more fuel efficient too. The hybrid variant will easily do sub 6-litre/100 km without even trying. Even the regular petrol-powered variants are still class-leading, burning around 7-litre/100 km in real world driving.
The Proton X70 will struggle to drop below 9-litre/100 km in real world driving.
The HR-V Hybrid also drives a lot better than the Proton X70 too. The Sport in Sport Hybrid is not just marketing. We’ve clocked a 0-100 km/h time of 9.5 seconds - identical to Proton X70's claimed Sprint time (10.8 seconds for the HR-V RS), but because the torque delivery is so immediate thanks to the electric motor, in-gear accelerations in the HR-V are more immediate compared to the slower shifting X70's transmission.
The downside? The infotainment is the weakest link in the otherwise almost perfect car. The display looks cheap and there’s no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, but that’s also missing on the Proton X70.
Of course, Proton has yet to launch the Proton X50 – a true rival to the Honda HR-V and that’s definitely going to be cheaper. We’ve test driven the Geely version of the car and you can read about it here.
Nissan Serena S-Hybrid – RM 132,888 – RM 144,888
- Minimum monthly repayment: RM 1,400 – RM 1,520
Wait, what’s an MPV doing in this crowd of SUVs? Again, hang on. It’s not as silly as it may seem. Remember we said that you need to ask yourself what are you buying your car for? If you have babies or toddlers, nothing else can serve you better than a sliding door MPV like a Nissan Serena.
If you don’t want your kids to get any dumber from you accidently knocking their heads on an SUV’s hinged door’s door frame every time you struggle to carry and strap them in, then get a sliding door MPV.
Because the Nissan Serena rides lower, your kids can climb in/out themselves, therefore saving yourself some trouble from having to carry your kids in and out of a taller riding SUV.
It also has Android Auto/Apple CarPlay (but response is rather clunky, slow), again it’s something the Proton X70 doesn’t have.
Thanks to the individual second row seats – which slides side-to-side as well as forward/backward – parents can easily walk from the front to the rear. It’s makes managing kids a lot less stressful.
The Nissan Serena's split opening tailgate is also super useful. Think of this scenario – you are reverse parked against a wall or another car, how are you going to open the Proton X70’s tailgate? How are you to do any loading/unloading – baby supplies bag, strollers etc. The Serena’s split-folding tailgate solves all that.
The downside? The wide opening sliding doors don’t do much towards contributing to body rigidity, so handling is quite terrible, plus the tall body doesn’t bring much confidence at higher speeds. Like we said earlier, you need to know what's your priority.
You can also ignore the S-Hybrid badging. It’s just a simple start-stop assistance function. Far from being a real hybrid, likewise the negligible fuel savings.
Subaru XV – RM 117,788 – RM 133,788
- Minimum monthly repayment: RM 1,240 – RM 1,400
The Subaru XV is the best handling car in this price range. The Proton X70 might drive better now thanks to a retuned suspension, but it can’t hide the fact that the X70 is really heavy car, weighing almost 1.7 tonnes and you feel every bit of the car’s weight, not in a good way.
Subaru’s signature ‘boxer’ engine means that the engine is mounted lower. With the heaviest part of the car positioned closer to the ground, the Subaru XV naturally feels a lot more stable and agile, and it’s very comfortable and quiet too.
With all-wheel drive – and Subaru is the only company that makes perfectly balanced symmetrical layout ones, only possible with a boxer engine – the XV feels very sure-footed. No amount of electronic stability/traction control can match proper mechanical grip working all the time on all four wheels.
The downside? Being an all-wheel drive car it is of course not as fuel efficient as a front-wheel drive Honda HR-V, but closer to a larger Honda CR-V fuel consumption. Claimed fuel consumption is 7.3-litre/100 km, still better than a Proton X70 (new CKD model with 7-speed DCT is claimed to do 7.6-litre/100 km).
The Subaru XV’s infotainment also lacks Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.
But that’s about it. There is very little downsides to the Subaru XV. All the weaknesses of the previous generation Subaru XV – noisy and cramped cabin, small boot – are no longer present in the current all-new generation model.
Mitsubishi Outlander – RM 137,888
- Minimum monthly repayment: RM 1,450
“But this car has no rear air-cond vents,” said nearly every would be buyer. That’s true, the Mitsubishi Outlander’s weakest link is that it is a 7-seater with no A/C vents in the rear.
But actually it’s not that big of a deal. We’ve driven from KL to Ipoh with seven adults on-board in the day and it was fine. Ironically, the biggest complaint came not from passengers in the third row but from the driver, because the front A/C vents were positioned too close to the driver and the vents had a very limited range adjustment.
Maxing out the A/C is enough to keep everyone cool but made the things too chilly for the driver.
Everyone is too focused on the A/C vents that they lost sight of the Mitsubishi Outlander supreme levels of ride comfort. It’s far more comfortable than either the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, on par with the Proton X70, if not better.
Mitsubishi might no longer be racing in rallies, but their long experience in suspension tuning is still apparent in their cars.
The cabin is very quiet too. That and the fact that you get seven seats – all suitable for adults mind you - for just a little bit more money over the Proton X70.
The downside? Apart from the lack of rear A/C vents, fuel consumption can be quite high, despite it using a CVT-type automatic with an Eco-mode AWD (disconnects the rear axle), but that is to be expected. This is afterall a seven-seater SUV.
Hyundai Tucson Turbo – RM 143,888
- Minimum monthly repayment: RM 1,200
Korean cars don’t get a lot of attention here and the Hyundai Tucson Turbo is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated cars here.
The Proton X70 might have a kick motion activated power tailgate but the Hyundai Tucson’s is even better. You just need to stand behind the car for a few seconds, with the keys in your pocket and the tailgate will open. No silly kicking action required.
Inside, cabin materials feel very premium, and the infotainment’s integration with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay is one of the best we’ve tried. Very fast and seamless.
The driving experience is nothing like early generation Korean cars. This Hyundai Tucson Turbo’s drives more like a Volkswagen Tiguan than a Honda CR-V.
The downside? There are no ADAS features, despite its price – no autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist or anything of that sort. Which is a deal breaker, and that’s why it’s the last on our list.