Cars Proton X50 Flagship exterior

Published on July 26th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


Is The Proton X50 Really Worth It?

Should you buy the Proton X50? We help you decide.

The Proton X50 has been around for almost a year now and still, the excitement around this little crossover has not died down. We test drove a unit of the top-spec ‘X50 Flagship’ model earlier in 2021 to find out whether the hype was justified.

Proton X50 Flagship exterior rear

Today we’re using our findings to help you understand the X50 and whether you should buy one. For a more complete review, check it out here.

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What is the X50 in the context of Proton

The deal between Proton and Geely back in 2018 outlined that 3 Geely-engineered vehicles would be sold as Protons. The first was the Geely Boyue, which you all know as the Proton X70 today. The third has yet to be confirmed, but it will likely be the HaoYue as the successor to the aging Proton Exora. The second model is the X50, which started life as the Geely Binyue (also known as the Coolray in the Philippines). Unlike the Proton X70, the X50 was never fully imported from China. Instead, the Tanjung Malim factory was renovated to accommodate local assembly from launch, with the right-hand drive conversion being done with the help of Proton engineers.

Four specifications are available in Malaysia:

X50 Standard – RM79,200

X50 Executive – RM84,800

X50 Premium – RM93,200

X50 Flagship – RM103,300

While the all have 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol engines, the X50 Flagship’s engine is more modern and more powerful than the others.

X50 Competitors In Malaysia

The Malaysian market was taken by surprise in 2014 with the introduction of the Honda HR-V. It was the first crossover SUV to be based on a B-segment platform (not counting the Perodua and Suzuki mini crossovers from the 1990s and 2000s). Yes, the Mitsubishi ASX and Subaru XV did debut BEFORE the Honda HR-V, but only Honda managed to price its product below the magical RM100,000 mark. Almost immediately, Honda Malaysia became the most popular non-national car brand stayed there for years while the others shifted their strategies. The introduction of the HR-V spelled the end of the C-segment sedan. Family sized sedan cars like the Corolla, Sylphy, and Lancer were being ignored for the crossover. 

Proton X50 Flagship exterior front

Proton did not have a product to respond to this segment. Now, with Geely’s help, they have two products. The X70 is PRICED like a HR-V, but is almost as large as the CR-V, while the X50 is priced below the HR-V, but is more modern and ‘upmarket’ than the now 7-year old HR-V. The one caveat here is that the X50 is a lot smaller in the rear than the HR-V and can’t reasonably be used as a family vehicle. 

Not one to be completely overshadowed by Proton, Perodua stepped in last year with the Ativa, which is based on the new Daihatsu Rocky. While it’s about the same size as the Proton X50, the Ativa is a lot less expensive, in line with Perodua’s brand philosophy.

Of course, this is an oversimplification, but that is generally where the X50 sits in Malaysia – it’s a Geely-engineered compact crossover, assembled and sold by Proton to fight off Japanese competitors.

Why are the X50’s biggest advantages?

The X50 has a few strengths over its rivals in my opinion.

  1. Its design is as intricate and modern as something in the premium segment
  2. The engine and gearbox is of a Volvo-Geely design and it’s very punchy and economical
  3. The equipment list is vast and leaves nearly nothing to be desired
  4. Materials and build quality is top notch inside
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What are the X50’s biggest disadvantages?

  1. The waiting list is seriously long, you have to wait even if you pay cash
  2. The rear seats and boot are not large enough for most families
  3. Spare part availability and after sales support has not been proven
  4. It lacks Apple Carplay and Android Auto, with 3rd party mirroring options instead
Proton X50 Flagship rear badging

What are the common misconceptions of the Proton X50?

  1. It’s uncomfortable – it’s actually comparable to premium compact crossovers in terms of comfort
  2. Its engine is not smooth – despite offering 3-cylinder engines, the X50 does not exhibit any judder or unexpected vibrations at idle or when under load
  3. It’s underpowered – the TGDI model has 177PS and 255Nm of torque which is highest in class
  4. It’s cheap to run – that depends on how you drive it and you have to factor in the price of 18” tyres. Can you afford an unexpected RM680 tyre change should you get a puncture?
Proton X50 Flagship front grille

With all this in mind, should you buy a Proton X50? Well, ask yourself these questions:

“Do I need a car immediately?”

If yes, don’t buy the X50. You’ll likely have to wait.

“Do I have a large family to drive around?”

If yes, don’t buy the X50. The rear seats are genuinely small.

Can I afford an unexpected tyre change that costs RM600-700? If no, don’t buy the X50. The Continental UltraContact UC6 tyres in 215/55 R18 size are not cheap tyres.

Am I considering a small premium crossover that costs RM250,000 or more? If yes, then consider the X50. It does most of the job at half the price.

In other words, if you can just about afford the X50 but are worried about unexpected costs or have plans to expand your family in the near future, or you need a car right now, you may want to look at an alternative vehicle. However, if you have plans to get a premium crossover but want to save some money, the X50 is pretty much perfect.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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