In short, the Proton X50 does a lot of things right – low price, modern looks, and generous features. With prices starting from RM 79k and topping out at RM 103k, the Proton X50 sits on the more affordable end of the scale for subcompact crossovers.
Now, the Proton X50 may be a sales success in Malaysia, but what about in its home market in China? We’ve compiled the sales data of the Proton X50, sold in China as the Geely Binyue, against two versions of its core rival, the Honda HR-V.
Yes, two versions. Honda has two partners in China, Dongfeng Honda and GAC Honda. Dongfeng Honda sells the HR-V as the XR-V in China, while GAC Honda is responsible for the Vezel.
Honda Vezel, XR-V vs Geely Binyue sales in China, 2021
From January to July this year, Geely sold 73,796 units of the Binyue in China, averaging about 10,500 units per month.
In the same period, Dongfeng Honda managed to sell 107,211 units of the XR-V, while GAC Honda sold 98,952 units of the Vezel.
Combined, the duo sold a total of 206,163 units – outselling the Binyue by nearly three times over, cementing their position as one of China’s best-selling SUVs this year.
That’s a pretty impressive result, not only because the Geely Binyue is much cheaper (priced from CNY 75,800 to CNY 119,800) than the XR-V and Vezel duo (priced from CNY 127,800 to CNY 176,800), but also the fact that the Binyue is a much newer model than the Honda duo.
Both Dongfeng Honda and GAC Honda revealed their versions of the HR-V in 2014, while the Binyue was launched in China in 2018.
Why are the Honda duo so popular?
In China, acceptance for three-cylinder engines have been met with mixed results – some manufacturers fare better than other when deploying these engines into their models.
Needless to say, between an upper-spec three-cylinder Geely Binyue (177 PS, 255 Nm) and a lower-spec four-cylinder XR-V / Vezel (131 PS, 155 Nm), most car buyers in China will gravitate towards the Honda duo, even if it costs more while offering less power than the Geely, owing to the four-cylinder engine's perceived refinement levels.
GAC Honda and Dongfeng Honda also offer the Vezel and XR-V with a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 177 PS and 220 Nm, mated to a CVT transmission.
Now, although Geely does offer four-cylinder variants of the Binyue in China, these are lower-spec variants, which does not get the fancy ADAS kit and curtain airbags the upper variants get.
The Chinese also perceive Geely differently from Malaysia. In Malaysia, our impression of Geely is formed based on newer generation models, ones that Geely calls "Refined Cars". Whereas in China, Chinese users' impression of Geely is still marred by poorer quality, earlier generation models.
Furthermore, Geely doesn't have as many dealers as Honda in bigger, richer cities.
Elsewhere, in China, there is a popular saying that when you buy a Honda, you’re buying the engine while the rest of the car is free, further emphasizing their trust in Honda.