The 7-seater C-segment Geely Jiaji is billed as a more upscale model to replace the ageing Proton Exora (on the market since 2009). Our recent posts on the yet to be confirmed Proton V70 (Geely Jiaji) have spurred a lot of conversations.
In fact, interest in the Geely Jiaji have taken a life of its own, as netizens have took it upon themselves to unofficially name the car on behalf of Proton, making ‘Proton V70’ a trending keyword on Google searches.
While Proton have trademarked the V70 name, they had also trademarked many other names and just because a company trademarks a name, it doesn’t mean that they have to use it. Sometimes, it’s a pre-emptive move to prevent rival companies from using similar sounding names.
Earlier this month, investment bank research house RHB Research said that Proton’s management have shared that it will be launching a third Geely-based model in 2021.
Naturally, we assumed that it is referring to the Geely Jiaji – the last of the three models that Proton had paid a total of RM 810,000,000 in licensing fees for, after the Proton X70 (Geely Boyue), and Proton X50 (Geely Binyue).
However, it is important to note that the agreement to purchase CBU, CKD kits, and after-sales parts for these 3 models will expire on 31-December 2020. The Jiaji is still not in Malaysia and Proton have yet to follow up with Geely with another agreement.
Sources familiar with the matter have said that Proton has yet to come to a decision regarding the Proton X70/Geely Jiaji, pointing to the fact that MPV segment is a diminishing one and even in China, the Jiaji sells less than the 7-seater SUV Geely Haoyue.
Proton is still deliberating between the Jiaji/V70 and the Haoyue, which by Proton’s current naming convention, should logically be called the Proton X90.
Both 7-seater models will still require hefty investments to convert to right-hand drive. Apart from that, these domestic Chinese models had to be homologated to our UNECE standard regulations, a process which is very time consuming and involves a lot of paperwork, since neither models were originally developed for the international market.
Between the Jiaji/V70 and the Haoyue/X90, it is obvious the Haoyue/X90 has a bigger sales volume potential.
While MPVs are popular in Indonesia, export potential of 7-seaters coming out of Malaysia is very limited due to import quotas imposed by Indonesia. The rest of the ASEAN region overwhelmingly prefer SUVs or MPVs.
Outside of China, the next closest Geely market to Malaysia is the Philippines, which currently sells three models – all SUVs.
The first is the Geely Azkara, an overseas version of the Geely Boyue Pro, itself an upscale version of the Geely Boyue that our Proton X70 is based on.
Next is the Geely Coolray, which we all know as the Proton X50, followed by the 7-seater Geely Okavango, which is sold in China as the Geely Haoyue.
From a regional planning point of view, it makes more sense for Malaysia to mirror Philippines model line-up, for a more cohesive South East Asia-wide product strategy.
In China, the Geely Jiaji is priced from CNY 94,800 to CNY 139,800, while the Geely Haoyue is priced from CNY 103,600 to CNY 139,600. For reference, the Geely Boyue (our Proton X70), is priced from CNY 88,000 to CNY 116,800.
Despite the higher price, the Haoyue have regularly outsold the Jiaji by more than 50 percent since it went on sale in China in June 2020.
If the Proton X90 does materialize, expect it to be priced 20 percent higher than a Proton X70, putting it in the ballpark price range of circa RM 150,000.
The Geely Haoyue competes against 7-seater C/D-segment SUVs like the Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-8, and Hyundai Santa Fe. In our regional context, you can also stretch it a bit further to include truck-based SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner.
The 7-seater SUV market in Malaysia is not very big, but that’s because most of these models are priced quite high. By leveraging on its tax-cut benefits as a national car, Proton might be able to make it work.
The Mitsubishi Outlander currently starts from RM 133,491 to RM 147,762. The more luxuriously trimmed Mazda CX-8 is priced from RM 172,000 to RM 193,000, while the Hyundai Santa Fe can be had from RM 166,974 to RM 207,638. All SST-exempted prices, valid until 31-December 2020.
In China, the Haoyue comes with a choice of two engines – the 1.5 TGDi used in the Proton X50, or the 1.8 TGDi used in the Proton X70, both are mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
If you ask us to choose between the Jiaji and the Haoyue, our vote goes to the Haoyue.
We’ve reviewed the Geely Jiaji before and while it looks impressive on paper and the pretty looking interior will wow showroom visitors, it’s a rather mediocre MPV – the biggest problem is its uncomfortable second and third row rows – deal breakers for an MPV.
All the seats have a hip point that’s too low relative to cabin floor, thus making you sit in a crouching position.
It seems the seating position is a weak area in many Geely cars. The biggest problem with the Proton X50 is also related to its driving position. The driver’s seat’s base is too short and it lacks lower thigh support.
Also, the Haoyue is based on an old NL platform, which also underpins the Proton X70. As such, it lacks some feature compatibility of the newer BMA platform-based Proton X50, or the next generation CMA platform-based Proton X70.