Is it true that the Proton X70 suffers from high fuel consumption?

Hans · Jan 07, 2020 09:45 AM

Weighing nearly 1.7 tonnes for just a five-seater SUV, the Proton X70 is the heaviest C-segment SUV. Naturally, its fuel consumption is higher than the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, or even Nissan X-Trail. But how much higher? Curiously, Proton doesn’t provide any official fuel consumption data for the Proton X70, which is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-litre direct injection engine.

A similarly turbocharged but 1.5-litre Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.0-litre/100 km. The equivalent 2.5-litre naturally aspirated Mazda CX-5 2.5 GLS is quite close, at 7.1-litre/100 km. The Nissan X-Trail Hybrid is of course, the most economical, at 6.1-litre/100 km, setting the benchmark for all C-segment SUVs.

The above figures are tested using the UN R101 test cycle (similar to Europe’s NEDC).

To give you a perspective of the Proton X70's weight penalty, the non-hybrid Proton X70 (1,695 kg) is heavier than even the full-hybrid Nissan X-Trail Hybrid (1,634 kg)! Despite carrying an additional 0.9 kWh battery and a 41 PS/160 Nm electric motor, the Nissan is still lighter.

Variants selected based on power output.

Never mind about the 1,549 kg Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P or 1,588 kg Mazda CX-5 2.5 High. Of course, Proton sales people will you that a heavier car is safer but that’s not how it works. And no, the X70 doesn’t use any chassis (or even engine) from a Volvo.

Weight has little to do with crash protection. The strength of the materials and the way in which energy are dissipated around the vehicle’s occupants are what matters.

All leading manufacturers now use lightweight ultra-high strength steel, to keep weight low so CO2 emissions and fuel consumption can be better managed.

So what is the Proton X70's fuel consumption?

Surprisingly, it’s not that bad. Yes, it's more than any of its peers, but not by that much.

We’ve recently tested the Honda CR-V (full review to come soon), and was surprised that it returned exactly 7.0-litre/100 km - exactly as claimed despite driving it purely in KL city, likely because the test route's mix of smooth flowing traffic and stop-go traffic is not too different from the UN R101 test cycle.

Our test route saw us looping multiple times along Jalan Damansara, passing Muzium Negara, down the relatively clear stretch passing Parliament before hitting slow traffic near PWTC, before looping back up for another smooth stretch in the opposite direction heading into stop-go traffic of Brickfields and Federal Highway to repeat the loop – done on a Friday, in the sort of KL traffic after Muslim prayers hours.

On smoother stretches, the CR-V consumed no more than 6-litre/100 km, suggesting that on highways, the CR-V will easily cruise economically at around 5.5-ltre/100 km. In heavy traffic, consumption will reach 10-litre/100 km.

We repeated the same route with a Proton X70 but on a very clear traffic Sunday afternoon. It returned 7.5-litre/100 km (actual value). The trip computer showed 7.4-litre/100 km, close enough.

To even out the differences in traffic conditions between it and the Honda CR-V’s, let’s put a 10 percent equivalency adjustment factor to the Proton X70, pushing it to 8.3-litre/100 km.

That’s 1.3-litre/100 km more than a equivalent Honda CR-V. Doing some simple math with the current prevailing price of RM 2.08/litre for RON 95 petrol, the Proton X70 consumes at least RM 2.70 more for every 100 km travelled.

Over a typical 500 km plus driving, you will be paying at least RM 13.50 more – not that big of deal really, if you are measuring against subsidized RON 95 petrol prices.

Against more expensive RON 97 petrol (RM 2.65/litre at time of publishing), the cost rises to RM 17.20.

Yes the Proton X70 consumes more fuel than its competitors, but not by that much.

There is however one caveat:

Everyone’s daily driving conditions are different and unless your commute happens to follow the same traffic pattern, you can’t expect to see the same results.

At the same time, a fair fuel consumption test has to cover a mix of clear traffic and stop-go driving.

A more likely reading for most users who travel to work at rush hours

If your daily drive involves a lot more stop-go driving in heavy traffic, expect a Proton X70 to average about 11-litre/100 km – sounds high but most SUVs in this segment average between 9 litres plus to 10-litre/100 km in such conditions.

The Honda CR-V might be more economical (and more spacious too - with bigger storage bins) but the Proton X70 is a lot more comfortable than the CR-V. Shocking but true. The Proton (OK it’s Geely) is that good.

Compared to the CR-V, the X70 has a quieter cabin, a suspension that delivers are more comfortable ride and better body control. Overall, we think the higher fuel consumption and smaller storage space is an acceptable trade-off.

GKUI and "Hi Proton" voice control is nice, but only supports Chinese apps

Our biggest complaint with the X70 is that the GKUI infotainment doesn't support Android Auto – which after experiencing the convenience of voice control for Waze/Google Maps/WhatsApp in the CR-V’s Android Auto, the X70’s China-centric system feels like a massive downgrade.

Boot is spacious enough (512 litres) but floor is high, making loading more difficult than other SUVs

That, and the Proton X70’s high boot floor and small opening (512 litres), which makes loading of heavy cargo more difficult than the lower boot floor and wider opening Honda CR-V (522 litres).

“Hi Proton” is a nice gimmick, but it doesn’t support any of the commonly used apps here. What good does Baidu maps do when we share locations using Waze/Google Maps? As brilliant as GKUI is, you are still forced to control your Spotify playlist from your phone, and it can’t read/reply your WhatsApp messages.

"Hey Google" with Honda CR-V's Android Auto. In a perfect world, we would've been able to swap Proton's "Hi Proton" GKUI with Android Auto. That would have made the Proton X70 a near-perfect family SUV.

We would gladly trade Geely’s GKUI for a proper Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration. Fix the infotainment and the Proton X70 is a near-perfect family SUV, good enough for us to overlook its higher fuel cost.

Meanwhile, we will wait for the new locally-assembled Proton X70. Prices and specifications have yet to be confirmed, but we are not expecting any big changes.