Our last post debunking a commonly propagated myth that the Proton X50 is a Volvo XC40 underneath didn’t go down very well with many Proton fans.
To recap, the Proton X50 rides on Geely’s BMA platform, which is developed in-house by Geely themselves, without Volvo’s input. The Volvo XC40 however, rides on the more sophisticated CMA platform, which is co-developed by both Geely and Volvo, via their Sweden-based CEVT joint-venture company.
The Proton X50 Flagship variant’s turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5T GDI is also used in an entry variant of the Volvo XC40 T3, which is not sold here.
But it’s quite a stretch to say that the X50 is using a Volvo engine as both engines are built to different standards and have different internals. They are also built at different locations. The Proton X50’s engine is built at Geely’s Yiwu plant while the Volvo XC40 T3’s engine comes from Skövde in Sweden and Zhangjiakou in China.
For example, Renault don’t tell their European customers that the Megane uses a Mercedes-Benz engine, even though the A200’s M282 1.3-litre turbocharged unit is shared with the Megane. Neither does Volkswagen say that the Golf uses a Porsche engine simply because the EA888 is also used by the Macan, even though both companies are under the same family.
The engine internals and calibration are different and for certain parts, the part number is also different.
Below is a short video by Geely Philippines, promoting the Geely Coolray’s 1.5 TD engine, which is a twin of our Proton X50, with a different 1.5 TD marketing name for the same 1.5 TGDI (codename 3G15T) engine.
In the video, Geely is proud to say that 90 percent of the engine’s parts are produced by the same suppliers used by Volvo - in other words, not the same engine.
In fact, Geely added that only 10 percent of the parts are developed to Volvo’s standards. That’s only logical.
While consumers will of course want everything, cost controllers will tell you that Proton/Geely customers won’t want to pay the same money as Volvo customers, so something has to give.
Over-engineering is good for consumers but it will also drive a company down the drain. Striking a balance meeting customer expectations and strict cost control is necessary for any business to be sustainable.
We are not saying that the 1.5 TGDI engine is bad but Proton fans need to calm down and not be over eager to link anything and everything about a Proton with a Volvo, in the same way you can’t link everything about a VW with a Porsche.
Geely Auto is different from Zhejiang Geely Holding in the same way VW is different from the Volkswagen Group. The holding company owns several brands and it is in their interest to maintain sufficient differentiation between the individual brands.
Far from criticising the Proton X50's engine, we want to give a standing ovation to Proton for introducing the new engine in the X50. Was there ever a time in Malaysia where 177 PS of power and 255 Nm of torque can be had for just slightly over RM 100k (prices yet to be confirmed)?
We’ve test driven the Chinese market Geely Binyue and found it to be a very competent product. The fact that it’s a 3-cylinder doesn’t bother us at all. On the outside, it doesn’t sound very good at idle but that has more to do with its direct injection than cylinder count.
Sitting inside the car and driving it, it’s hard to tell that it’s a 3-cylinder. Never mind about its cylinder count, all you need to know is that it drives much better than many of its segment rivals and that’s all that matters. It’s not quite a Volvo but you must be quite shameless (but we know many Malaysians are) to want to ask for anything more when you are paying just around RM 100k.
Our only complaint with the Geely Binyue is its poor ride and handling. The ride was uncomfortably stiff and the rest of the chassis – steering and suspension - don’t come together very well to allow us to exploit the powerful 177 PS engine’s full potential.
However, Proton has confirmed that it has injected its own expertise in ride and handling into the Proton X50, and we all know how good the Malaysian team at Proton’s vehicle dynamics development is. Are they better than Geely or Volvo? Without a doubt, yes. Remember that the local team has to work with a far smaller budget and look at the gems they’ve created in the past.
Follow us to know when we will have a review of the Proton X50 up.