Proton X70 CKD vs Honda CR-V vs Mazda CX-5 - Which one should you buy

Eric · Feb 13, 2020 08:53 AM

The Proton X70 CKD is finally here, slightly less than 2 years since Proton first introduced the imported (CBU), China-made model back in late-2018.

The new locally-assembled (CKD) Proton X70 sees a reduction in price, increase in features, and an improved engine that sees a slight bump in peak torque.

Updated powertrain delivers slightly better performance

Although the engine remains the same 1.8-litre turbocharged TGDi, it has received some updates. It is known internally as a “Generation 3” engine, an update over the CBU’s “Generation 2” unit.

Power output remains the same at 184 PS, but torque has been increased by 15 Nm to 300 Nm, giving it the highest torque in its class, more than the Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P (243 Nm) and Mazda CX-5 2.5 (258 Nm).

2020 Proton X70 gear lever

When coupled with the new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, the X70 delivers a more refined driving experience over the older torque converter unit.

2019 Honda CR-V gear lever

That said, the CR-V’s CVT-type automatic provides the most seamless driving experience at the expense of enjoyment, plus it has paddle shifters, which the Proton doesn't have.

2019 Mazda CX-5 gear lever

As for the Mazda CX-5 2.5, it has one less forward ratio than the Proton (6-speed vs 7-speed), though gear shifts are considerably quicker.

Fuel efficiency gains as well

The biggest problem for the Proton X70 is its weight (previously up to 1,695 kg), which penalizes its fuel economy. The new lighter and more efficient 7-speed DCT should address that. Weight is now down to 1,675 kg, just a slight improvement but the DCT has less  power losses than the previous car's 6-speed torque converter automatic, thus improving fuel economy.

2020 Proton X70 front view

In fact, Proton engineers mentioned that the reason for adopting a dual-clutch automatic is not for driving performance. Instead, the DCT was selected because of its fuel efficiency gains.

With the new DCT in place, the X70 DCT is said to return a manufacturer quoted figure of 7.6-litres/100 km, down 13% from before.

2020 Proton X70 meter cluster

Despite that, the figure is still not as good as the Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P's 7.0-litre/100 km and Mazda CX-5 2.5's 7.3-litre/100 km.

Bear in mind that apart from the Honda (which we tested here), the Proton and Mazda’s figures are manufacturer claimed figures, and may not be representative of real-world driving conditions.

Updated cabin is ever so slightly better

Apart from the updated powertrain, Proton also gave the cabin of the X70 a mild update.

2020 Proton X70 rear seats

New is a two-step reclining rear seat, a feature that is already present on the Mazda CX-5, but not on the Honda CR-V.

2020 Proton X70 front seats

Also new to the Proton X70 is the ventilated front seats, available on the Executive variant onwards.

Coupled with the panoramic sunroof on the Premium X variant, the X70 is perhaps one of the cheapest, yet best equipped C-segment SUVs on sale right now.

Both the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 lack such features, though the Honda does offer a far more practical, more spacious cabin than the X70, while the Mazda’s cabin is far more upmarket than the price tag suggests.

Come on Proton. It's 2020, where is your Android Auto/Apple CarPlay?

It is also worth mentioning that both the Mazda and Honda offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, something which the X70 lacks.

But is it comfortable?

Proton engineers have also fine-tuned the X70 CKD’s suspension. This small improvement makes the new Proton X70 CKD more confident in the corners than the previous CBU model, without sacrificing ride comfort.  

2020 Proton X70 side view

When it comes to driving experience, we reckon that the Mazda CX-5 is still the benchmark to beat – especially with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC Plus), the CX-5 is just more comfortable on twisty roads.

As for the Honda CR-V, it may have a practical cabin, but is let-down by poor noise insulation and a far busier ride.

2019 Honda CR-V side view

Coupled with the class-leading cabin quietness, the Proton X70 CKD is definitely a good choice for long-distance highway cruising.

How well will the Proton X70 protect my family in the event of an accident?

All variants of the Proton X70 get 6 airbags, stability and traction control, auto brake hold, emergency stop signal, and hill hold assist.

Climbing up the hierarchy adds a comprehensive list of ADAS features, including:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS)
  • Intelligent High Beam Control (IHBC)

That said, the X70 Premium and Premium X variants lack Lane Keep Assist (LKA), something the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 offer on selected variants. The Proton only has Lane Departure Warning.

Like the Proton X70, the range-topping Honda CR-V adds Honda Sensing ADAS into the mix, which includes these features:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
  • Low Speed Follow (LSF)
  • LaneWatch camera

Yes, you may have noticed that the CR-V lacks Blind Spot Monitor, but we reckon that LaneWatch is a far superior solution, as explained here.

As for the Mazda, the variant we selected (2.5L High), mostly due to price but it still offers these features:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front and Rear)
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
  • Driver Attention Alert (DAA)

Price is king, almost

Lastly, when it comes to the value-for-money preposition, it’s hard to argue against the Proton X70 CKD.

2020 Proton X70 front view

Looking at the price the Proton X70 is sold and against the competition, it is no surprise that Proton has managed to shift more than 29,000 units since its launch.

With the cheapest Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 starting from around RM 138k, it makes the range-topping X70 Premium X look like a bargain, and to a certain extent, it is.

While the range-topping Honda tops out at RM 164k, the Mazda stretches that even further, as the CX-5 2.5 Turbo is priced at a whopping RM 182k (the 7-seater Mazda CX-8 starts from below RM 180k).

2020 Proton X70 front view

Proton has done a great job updating the already-stellar X70 into a better product, though if you want something a bit more compact and affordable, we think you should wait out for the upcoming Proton X50 instead.