The B-segment sedan market is a hotly contested segment, ever since the introduction of Toyota Vios back in 2002. It was created specifically to be sold in the ASEAN region, and with a starting price of RM 73,600, it was the cheapest non-national car to be sold in Malaysia, up until the launch of Toyota Avanza in 2004, with a price tag of RM 55,967.
With the booming popularity of the Vios, it was a matter of time before their closest rival Honda to come up with a worthy opponent, and a year later, the Honda City makes its debut. It is slightly pricier at RM78,888, but Honda outfitted the car with advanced tech and equipment to justify its price, and thus begin a long fight between Toyota Vios and Honda City, which continues on today.
However, these sedans might face a bigger competition in a much more advanced, tech-laden and handsome looking new player, the 2020 Proton X50. Despite delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and CKD version of Proton X70, potential buyers are holding their hard-earned cash to see if the new SUV is indeed a worthy proposition.
We expect the Proton X50 to be priced around RM 85,000 to RM 100,000 depending on variant. In comparison, the Toyota Vios starts at RM 77,200 all the way to RM 87,300, while the Honda City starts at RM 78,160 to RM 91,260.
- Proton X50 - estimated RM 85,000 to RM 100,000
- Toyota Vios - RM 77,200 to RM 87,300
- Honda City - RM 78,160 to RM 91,260
Adding fuel to the fire, the Proton X50 will also affect the sales of the equally hot Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz, the hatchback siblings of the Toyota Vios and Honda City. The Honda Jazz is priced at RM 74,960 to RM 88,360, and over at Toyota, the Yaris starts from RM 70, 888 and tops out at RM 83,888.
Besides the attractive price point, the Proton X50 boasts the trending SUV styling that people come to love. Dimension wise is almost identical, apart from the obviously taller height of the X50.
However, the strongest point of the X50 comes from its powerful 3-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, which boasts 177 PS and 255 Nm of torque. It is a huge difference compared to both Honda City's 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated engine, pushing out only 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque. Likewise, Toyota Vios's 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine is the lowest of the bunch, with only 107 PS and 140 Nm of torque.
The X50 also comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch-transmission (co-developed with Volvo and is used in the Volvo XC40 T3, not on sale here), while both the Honda and Toyota utilizes CVT. Plus, the X50 interior quality, design, look and feel reminds you of a car twice its size, dauntingly making the Honda and Toyota interior cheap in comparison.
Like its bigger brother the Proton X70, the Proton X50 is an SUV with the most value per proposition. Without a doubt, the X50 will surely take a chunk of sales away from these four B-segment favorites, but how big of a margin remains to be seen.