Published on January 2nd, 2024 | by Subhash Nair0
Proton X90: Your Top Questions Answered about its Driving Experience
This is the next generation PROTON SUV.
With Proton being our national automaker, while it tended to make more affordable cars for the people in the past it has moved the social ladder to rival foreign manufacturers with its range of new SUV’s, giving customers more vehicle choices.
Now, having used its Flagship variant of the X90 for some time, I am delighted to report that this new large Proton SUV (especially in this top-spec trim here) showcases Proton’s capability to deliver a good ride, where they have successfully blended luxury, performance, and technology for our nation’s leaders and also Malaysian families.
The Proton X90 distinguishes itself in the competitive SUV market with a host of unique selling points. Its interior boasts premium, cushy seats across all three rows, a full-length panoramic sunroof, exclusive to the Flagship variants, quiet cabin experience, balancing luxury with practical performance. The Proton X90 definitely emerges as a top choice for those seeking a blend of comfort, elegance, and functionality in their SUV.
Now, I know many people have thoughts and questions about this new SUV from Proton. So, let’s break it down.
Power – Just how much power can this car have?
When first announced, many undoubtedly scoffed at the idea that this large 7 seat SUV was to be powered by a 1.5-litre three cylinder. Can it really give drivers the power it needs especially for a larger SUV? Sure, it may be turbocharged and feature Proton’s mild hybrid system too, but can the engine give us enough power to move such a large car?
Well, just like other manufacturers who have downsized their engines and packed it into a larger car, the one biggest takeaway I had with this X90 was just how punchy it could be. The X90’s driving experience definitely defies initial scepticism around its 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Pick up from this tiny triple under the hood is incredulously more than adequate for this block of flats on wheels, with there being a decent enough surge of power (right to speeds which can’t be written here) that one can seriously hustle this 2.3 tonne SUV down the road with relative ease if one so chooses. Or more pertinently perhaps be more than enough to haul an entire family/entourage up Genting without breaking a sweat.
Handling – Is the handling as good as the older models?
It is crystal clear from the first bend that the days of Lotus handling in a Proton have not all together been retired. With the newer models, many have been worried that it would not have a good handling as the older models. I’m here to tell you, it’s still as good or even better. The handling is reminiscent of Proton’s Lotus heritage, which balances agility and stability. What’s even more surprising is that it did it fully loaded with passengers. This balance actually helps with comfort too because without it, the nervousness of its ability around bends will affect its overall comfort, especially for passengers.
My experience with piloting this 7-seat SUV through Karak could probably be equivalent to helming a cruise ship over big waves, steady even on the rough roads. With the steering set to sport mode (which can be done individually to the drive mode selection) too, there is reasonable weight when and you do somewhat know where the wheels are actually pointing.
Best of all though on the topic of steering, at least is that contrary to its size, the X90 has a surprisingly tight turning circle that certainly increases the agility and manoeuvrability of this family SUV.
Safety – How truly safe is the car and what are the standout safety features?
The Proton X90 stands out as a reliable and safe choice especially for families and adventure-goers. The Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) provided by the PROTON X90 is one of the most elaborate ones yet and is a feature that I continue to enjoy having in the car. One feature that I appreciate is the Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) feature. I’ve tested it whilst I was on the Karak highway, and it really does maintain a safe distance with the vehicle in front and keeps the vehicle in the centre of the lane. It smooth and you feel secured.
Traffic on the road these days are heavy and recently, there have been many harrowing accident cases reported. Of course, accidents are something that we always try to avoid. The other ADAS features are not to be missed on this front. The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward Collision Warning (FCB) as well as the Rear Collision Warning (RCW) are useful in this instance. This large SUV also leaves us feeling a bit more at ease when we’re on the road with its ASEAN NCAP score of 5-stars.
It’s safe, the ADAS feature is good, it has the maximum ASEAN NCAP rating – what more can you ask for?
Comfort – Can SUVs be really comfortable for everyone?
The answer is yes. As we mentioned before, the X90 with its luxurious interior design has seats that are cushy enough for its occupants in all three rows. This feeling of luxury is further enhanced by cushy soft padding on the door tops and armrest that gives this large SUV a slightly more premium interior ambience, which is of course further accentuated by the presence of second-row captain’s chairs in this Flagship variant creating an ambiance that is both spacious and inviting.
Similarly premium feeling too (and similarly exclusive to the Flagship variants) is the full-length panoramic sunroof bathes the cabin in light, that handily could be covered up by a motorised shade when the Malaysian sun gets a bit too intense. And with this being a Proton as well, the cabin could be made icy-cold courtesy of a powerful air-conditioning system which features vents to all three rows along its room and even ventilation for the front four seats. All of this combined transforming the cabin into a refreshingly cool haven.
On the open highway and at high speed does smooth out exterior noises very well, with wind and road noise kept to a rather hush minimum. This tranquillity is certainly handy when paired with its very decent sound system, which enhances the overall sense of comfort and luxury.
Practicality – Is it just like any other SUV?
Now obviously, for such a large and elegantly designed SUV, the X90 boasts an impressive amount of interior space, so much so that one could even consider camping in it if they so choose. However, a more practical assessment of its, ahem, practicality and spaciousnessreveal that the X90 comfortably accommodates its VIPs in the Flagship’s luxurious second-row captain chairs, offering an opulent lounging experience, while even a six-footer can find ample room to fit comfortably in its well-designed third row.
It has to be emphasized too there are a couple of nice practicality touches within the X90, like having a generous number of USB ports across all three rows for modern connectivity needsand a boot with surprisingly useful underfloor cubby for extra storage.
Meanwhile, its centre console storage bin is way too big where anything that gets chucked inside requires a good rummage to recover, emphasizing the Proton’s commitment in providing an abundant amount of space and comfort for all storage and travel needs.
So, no it is not just like any other SUVs, it is a car for everyone – families, adventurers, travellers, and more. This car brings practicality to the next level.
Tech – How does the Intelligence in Proton’s X90 fare?
While Proton has been heavily promoting the various tech features with its X90, it is the adaptive cruise control, an innovative and user-friendly technology, that is easy and fun to use and enhances the driving experience by automatically adjusting the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. This feature not only adds to the convenience but also increases safety on long drives. Additionally, 360º surround view camera is great with high definition, offering a comprehensive view of the vehicle’s surroundings, simplifying parking and maneuvering in tight spaces.
Proximity unlock is certainly a feature I got really used to very fast during my time with the car. This advanced technology, which allows for keyless entry, is not just a convenience but a subtle enhancement to daily life, making it easier to access the car, especially when your hands are full. Auto Parking is a sweet party trick, and you must try it.
Not to be forgotten is the iconic “Hi PROTON” voice command suite. Voice command allows you to access features in your car while you focus on the road. No need for the constant fiddling of buttons and switches in the car which is a plus point for me.
Aesthetics – What’s my take?
As for how it looks, the Proton X90 is a handsome looker from all angles and for what it is, boasting a striking and visually appealing design. Imposing is probably the best way to describe it, with its blocky body (that is vaguely reminiscent of a Land Rover Discovery 3/4) doing enough good job in further emphasising its already massive size to better “persuade” smaller cars to move over to the slower lanes.
The X90’s aesthetic design is both commanding and elegant, with its bold lines and structured frame contributing to an overall appearance of strength and sophistication. This SUV’s visual impact is undeniable, making a statement on the road with its distinctive and stylish presence.
All in all, considering the many questions that most people have about this new SUV, based on my experience driving the car, I must say that the Proton X90 stands out as an excellent car to be considered. The car is versatile enough to fit so many different lifestyles. Starting at RM 123,800, its competitive pricing cannot be passed up especially for an SUV.
The pricing, coupled with the advanced technological features, the Proton X90 stands as a standout choice for those seeking exceptional value and innovation in the automotive market.