Proton’s foreign strategic partner, Geely unveiled its first MPV in 2019 called the Geely Jiaji. It’s a 6/7-seater MPV that appeals to families through its modern features and design.
The Proton Exora has been around for more than a decade now without any replacement in sight. No matter how they spin it, the Exora is starting to show its age and is having a tough time staying competitive in today’s market space.
If Proton ever decides to replace the Exora, there is a strong case to believe that the Geely Jiaji would be the new Proton MPV. Which is why we’ve got our hands on one in China to find out if the Jiaji’s space, features and performance would attract Malaysian customers.
The car tested is a high-spec variant decked out with all the bells and whistles like LED headlamps, 18-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, powered tailgate, rear air vents and the latest GKUI-based touchscreen infotainment system with intelligent voice command.
If you’re attracted to frivolous but trendy items, the Jiaji’s heated and cooling cupholders, 72 colour ambient lighting and motion-activated roof lighting would prove to be quite the showpiece.
Cabin space is well utilised with plenty of movement area for parents in the front row and kids at the rear. However, the seating position in the Jiaji is not quite as comfortable as what you’d expect from a Nissan Serena or Toyota Innova.
That is due to the high floor in the Jiaji due to the nature of its sedan-based platform and made worse to accommodate the electrified components for the plug-in hybrid variants.
However, it’s not end-game for the Jiaji as average height adults can still work their way around to a comfortable seating position with some adjustments to the seats.
What’s even more disappointing was the boot space that is no larger than what you get from a Honda BR-V or Perodua Aruz. The third row can be folded for extra cargo (expandable up to 845 litres) but the seats create a hump, as demonstrated in the video, making loading items a bit of a chore.
The Geely Jiaji is available with 4 petrol engine options – 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo (178 PS/255 Nm), 1.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (184 PS/300 Nm), 1.5-litre 3-cylinder mild-hybrid turbo (190 PS/300 Nm) and 1.5-litre 3-cylinder plug-in hybrid (258 PS/385 Nm).
The base 1.5-litre 3-cylinder is paired to a 6-speed manual while the 1.8-litre 4-cylinder mill gets a 6-speed automatic (like the Proton X70). Only electrified powertrains are mated to a 7-speed (wet-type) dual-clutch automatic transmission.
On the safety front, high-spec variants of the Jiaji have the option for semi-autonomous driving features that bundles autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aid. The Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS) on the Jiaji can allow it to follow the car in front up to 150 km/h and change lanes autonomously.
The next Proton MPV is still a long, long way to go as Proton is gearing up for the launch of the locally-assembled (CKD) Proton X70 in 2020 followed by their next compact SUV which is rumoured to be called the Proton X50.
In the meantime, you will have to settle for the Proton Exora.