Geely Binyue (Proton X50), is the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo powerful enough for Malaysians?

Adrian Chia · Dec 20, 2019 08:07 PM

2020 Geely Binyue (Proton X50) Review

Proton will be launching their next SUV that is rumoured to be called the Proton X50. Whether it will be called as such is another story altogether.

The Proton X50 will be based off a Geely product, the Geely Binyue. It’s a 5-seater compact crossover that’s positioned against the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur.

2020 Geely Binyue Proton X50 Competitor

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In China, the Binyue is available with two petrol engine options, a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo paired strictly to a 6-speed manual and a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo paired to a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. The latter is co-developed with Volvo and is used in the Volvo XC40 T3.

As the 1.0-litre mill (136 PS & 205 Nm) only comes with a manual option, we have strong reason to believe that the X50 will be equipped with the 1.5-litre turbo when it arrives in Malaysia.

2020 Geely Binyue (Proton X50) Review

If so, the Proton X50 1.5 turbo will be the most powerful car in its segment packing 177 PS and 255 Nm of torque. That's more power than a BMW 318i which uses the same engine configuration.

2020 Geely Binyue (Proton X50) Review

Is it powerful?

Having sampled the X50’s donor car, the Geely Binyue in China, we can conclude that the 1.5-litre turbo on the X50 is something to look forward to.

Based on our real-world testing, the Binyue 1.5 turbo manages the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 8.9 seconds – a full second off the official claimed figures. This is attributed to the eco-oriented LingLong Green Max 4x4 tyre equipped on the test vehicle which did not offer optimal levels of grip during aggressive acceleration.

2020 Geely Binyue (Proton X50) Review

Power delivery is strong throughout the rev range even though on paper, max torque tapers off at 4,000 rpm (engine red lines at 6,000 rpm). The way the engine delivers torque is also very linear which befits its SUV nature.

The Proton X50’s 1.5-litre powertrain will definitely be able to keep up with most cars on Malaysian highways without breaking a sweat. Except for Perodua Myvis, you’d probably need a Porsche for that.

Perodua Myvi Initial D Meme

Source: MSF Racing YouTube

Will Malaysians like the engine?

Short answer, yes. In the city, the 1.5-litre turbo offers ample low-end torque without feeling overly eager. Unlike some cars with an overly sensitive throttle response – which can be uncomfortable in traffic jams – the Binyue’s throttle response is well calibrated for linear power delivery.

On the highway, the 3-cylinder engine is able to give you that confidence of overtaking other cars as and when you demand it to. In gear acceleration is solid and doesn’t struggle even when accelerating from 110 km/h.

Prod your right foot gently, wait for the boost to build up (there’s a very mild but noticeable delay) and away it goes. All in all, the Binyue 1.5 turbo feels much more in its element between 80 to 140 km/h.

Although taking it past 4,000 rpm and the stellar cabin insulation can no longer mask the roughness of the puny 3-cylinder. Which brings us to the flaws of the engine…

What are its flaws?

Drawing high outputs from a 1.5-litre engine means there will have to be some compromises made. For starters, the 3-cylinder is nowhere near as refined (nor sound as good) as a BMW 3-cylinder.

Engine vibration is obvious during cold start and rattling noise is obvious at idle from the outside. Thankfully the cabin is well insulated, so the rattling is not heard nor felt from the driver’s seat.

2020 Geely Binyue Proton X50 Engine Bay

Thick insulation material on the hood

The wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT) although has a sound shifting logic, it’s not as snappy as expected from a DCT. If anything, it shifts more like a conventional automatic rather than a DCT.

Unlike most other DCTs we are more familiar with (Volkswagen, Audi and Honda), the Binyue's transmission does not have the function to creep forward when releasing the brake pedal - even with auto hold disengaged. It will always require throttle inputs to move forward. This would be inconvenient and tiring to drive during rush hour traffic.

2020 Geely Binyue Proton X50 Review

Crawling in traffic is also not the smoothest with a mild but discernible delay from the clutch lock-up. It is not jerky per se not but trying to set off smoothly will require a little bit of a learning curve.

Overall, the Proton X50 with the 1.5 turbo will be something to look forward to. It’s an advanced and powerful engine that will give you a satisfying acceleration performance.

Coupled in a stylish SUV body, the Proton X50 is poised to be a winner in the B-segment SUV/crossover segment.

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Adrian Chia

Editor

Psychology graduate with over 4 years in the automotive industry, 3 in front of the camera. Occasionally seen at his family owned tyre shop. Will only buy cars that passes the big bottle test.

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