Proton has previously said that it is committed to launching at least one new model every year and based on past history, they are not referring to just minor updates/facelift models, but all-new models. So what’s coming for 2021?
The Proton S50, V70, X90 don't exist yet but that hasn't stop netizens from giving these trademarked names a life of its own.
Before that let’s do a quick recap.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group formalized its 49.9 percent stake in Proton in June 2017. Less than a year later, it launched the Proton X70 in December 2018, then still imported from China.
Slightly more than a year later, the locally-assembled (CKD) Proton X70, now with a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, was launched in February 2020. In that same year, the Proton X50 was launched on October 2020.
Challenges due to MCO and the Covid-19 pandemic notwithstanding, the original plan was for Proton to launch at least one all-new model every year.
Initially, the duo was expected to receive a similar update as the lower range Saga, dropping the rubbish Punch-sourced CVT for a conventional 4-speed automatic from Hyundai, but the latest report by Funtasticko suggests that the CVT will remain, albeit with improved software.
LED headlamps are also rumoured to be included for higher range variants.
Facelifts/specs updates aside, Proton has briefed the investment banking community that it will be introducing a new, unspecified Geely-based model in 2021.
So which Geely model will have the highest chance of making it here? We take a look at four candidates.
Proton S50/Geely Binrui
Proton has at least 3 new models left to be launched between now until 2023, and if the different silhouettes is to be taken seriously, it would imply there are two sedans coming our way, and one SUV/MPV type vehicle, but we could also be reading too much into it.
To our knowledge, Proton is not working on any Geely-based sedan at the moment, and we can safely rule out the Geely Binrui - which the Internet has collectively decide to call it the Proton S50 – to fill the void left behind by the Proton Preve.
The Binrui is pretty good car but it’s not Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla Altis level of good. Even in its home market in China, the Binrui doesn’t have a strong position, selling far less than either the Civic or Corolla Altis.
In China, the Binrui is sold with a 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 141 PS and 235 Nm, paired exclusively to a CVT-type automatic.
It rides on the Geely-Volvo Car jointly developed BMA (B-segment Modular Architecture, but don’t get too hung up on the B-segment nomenclature, it’s modular) platform, which also means that it’s somewhat related to the Proton X50.
At the rate sedan owners are migrating to SUVs, a C-segment sedan is understandably not high on Proton’s priority.
|Dimensions||Geely Binrui||Honda Civic|
The C-segment middle ground is a thinning one as a bulk of new car sales in Malaysia are contributed by B-segment sedans - which are doing what traditional C-segment sedans have been doing but at much lower prices – and SUVs.
Likelihood to be launched: Low
Proton V70/Geely Jiaji
The 7-seater Geely Jiaji appears to be a good candidate to replace the ageing Proton Exora, which is now approaching its 12 year in the market.
Proton has already trademarked the V70 name and the name is often mentioned in reference to the next generation Proton Exora.
Unfortunately that’s not going to happen. The Geely Jiaji is a significantly more expensive model than the Proton Exora.
Even in China, the Jiaji sells for between CNY 94,800 to CNY 139,800, which is higher than the Geely Boyue, (our Proton X70), which is priced from CNY 88,000 to CNY 116,800.
Malaysia’s Proton X70 is already priced at between RM 94,800 to RM 122,800, while the ageing Proton Exora sells for between RM 59,800 to RM 66,800.
Even with adjustments to its list of features, it’s hard to see how Proton/Geely can bring prices of the Jiaji down by nearly 50 percent.
As a replacement for the Proton Exora, the Geely Jiaji/Proton V70 is definitely not one. As a rival to the Toyota Innova however (itself not a big seller), there is a possibility, albeit not a very high one.
In China, the Jiaji is sold with either a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder or a 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
The former makes 177 PS/255 Nm (shared with Proton X50) and can be paired with a 48V mild-hybrid that bumps the total system output to 190 PS and 300 Nm.
The bigger but older 1.8-litre turbocharged engine (shared with Proton X70), makes 183 PS and 300 Nm.
Both engines are paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The initial parts supply and import of CBU models agreement signed between Geely and Proton did mention the VF11, which is the model code for the Jiaji, but that agreement has since lapsed, ending on 31-December 2020.
|Dimensions||Geely Jiaji||Proton Exora|
Likelihood to be launched: Medium
Proton Perdana/Geely Preface
The Geely Preface, which is sold in China as the Xingrui, is among the more beautiful cars to come out from Geely in recent times. It’s not exactly a D-segment sedan by traditional definition, as it straddles between traditional C- and D-segment cars.
But its road presence and stately stance leaves little doubt to what sort of sedan the Preface is.
Unlike the Geely Binrui, the Preface rides on a more sophisticated CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform, which unlike the Geely-Volvo jointly developed BMA platform, is all pure Volvo Car.
The Geely Preface’s price in China starts at CNY 113,700, reaching CNY 149,700. For reference, the most expensive Geely Boyue (Proton X70) stops at CNY 116,800 (Boyue Pro aside).
The Preface is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 190 PS/300 Nm, paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
|Dimensions||Geely Preface||Honda Accord|
Although the D-segment market is shrinking and the few manufacturers that are still active there are already trimming down the number of variants offered, Proton by virtue of it still enjoying privileges as a national car company, is obligated to deliver a replacement for the Proton Perdana for government use.
It’s not an immediate priority for Proton but it is reasonable to expect a follow up act to the Proton Perdana in the near term, maybe not in 2021, but within the next few years.
Likelihood to be launched: Low, for 2021
Proton X90/Geely Haoyue
The Geely Haoyue is a 7-seater SUV that’s currently already on sale in the Philippines as the Geely Okavango. It competes against rivals like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-8, Mitsubishi Outlander, VW Tiguan Allspace, and to a certain extent, the Hilux-based Toyota Fortuner.
As you would expect, the Haoyue is not cheap. In China, prices range from CNY 103,600 to CNY 139,600, meaning that it’s about 20 percent more expensive than the Boyue.
Applying the same quantum of increase to the Proton X70, expect prices of the Proton X90 – assuming that it will be called as such – to be around RM 150,000.
Underneath, the Haoyue is actually a rather old car, but given a new suit. It doesn’t ride on any of the modular BMA or CMA platforms used by newer Geely models, but the ageing CV platform, basically a stretched Geely Jiaji’s platform.
In China, it’s powered by the same 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine used by the Proton X70, but there are two transmission options – 6-speed torque converter automatic or a 7-speed dual-clutch.
Despite its higher price, Geely sells way more Haoyue than Jiaji, a reflection of the diminishing MPV segment.
Considering that it already has a strong track record of market success and is already sold in the Philippines, we think the Haoyue has higher chance than the Jiaji as the next Geely-based model to be launched by Proton next.
With the Covid-19 situation showing little signs of improvement, it’s rather optimistic to expect Proton to keep to its original timeline of launching one new model every year (Proton Iriz/Persona facelift aside).
But to answer the question what will be the next Geely-based model to be launched in Malaysia, our pick will be the Geely Haoyue. Logically, it should be called the Proton X90.
Sources familiar with Proton’s product plans say that one unit of the Haoyue is already in Malaysia for local evaluation.
|Dimensions||Geely Haoyue||Mazda CX-8|
Likelihood to be launched: High