Published on May 2nd, 2024 | by Subhash Nair


Proton S70 Flagship X Review: Caught Between Segments

The Proton S70 over-delivers in some aspects, but gets some basics wrong.

Proton has been pushing out new SUVs to grab some market share back from the non-national carmakers over the last half-decade. This campaign has been relatively successful and late last year they turned their attention instead to the sedan market with the all-new S70. 

The Proton S70 is a pretty interesting vehicle, and it’s also one that is difficult to place in the market. The name suggests that it’s the X70’s sedan cousin, but the mechanical underpinnings and pricing suggest it’s more closely related to the X50. In terms of size, it’s somewhere in between the most popular B-segment and C-segment sedans from Japan.

proton s70 in white


The suspension tuning, rigid chassis and greater than average NVH qualities are all strong points of the Proton S70. The car has a ‘continental’ feel which is both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand it feels plenty stable at high speeds but on the other hand, the suspension is set up to communicate road surface imperfections rather than hide it. Good for the driver, but not always pleasant for the rest of the occupants.

The engine is an interesting one. Proton for whatever reason has opted to fit the port injected 1.5L turbo 3-cylinder from the more basic X50 variants rather than the direct injection model from the X50 Flagship. The result is lower power and lower responsiveness. The engine also sounds terrible at idle, but thankfully it’s well isolated from the cabin. It’s the kind of set-up that may not age very well but is certainly tolerable when new and not bad for the price.

Power is decent though it isn’t quite so immediate. The 7-speed DCT isn’t the fastest in the field, but it’s quick enough without having too many quirky characteristics. All-in-all, this is the kind of powertrain that’s impressive in motion but a little less refined than modern C-segment powertrains available from Toyota and Honda. It also doesn’t have the smoothness of your typical 1.5L 4-cylinder + CVT combo from the City or Vios.

In terms of occupant comfort, the S70 puts occupants a lot lower to the ground than its B-segment rivals. Front occupants have more than enough room but those in the rear may feel a bit of a pinch, particularly if there are 3 sitting abreast. For 4 adults, this is a perfectly serviceable vehicle and one where suspension is well sorted despite being a bit more focused towards dynamism.

That being said, the steering is definitely weightless and that makes it both easy to park and numb in the corners. There’s enough power here for the car to feel darty and enough competence in the suspension for one to feel confident to push and wring out the engine.


In terms of looks I honestly think this could be the best looking Proton sedan of all time. The S70 is athletic, elegant, sophisticated and conservative. Proportions are actually really good – there’s no bloated look to the passenger compartment. The side profile is particularly handsome. There’s a strong character line that looks very Audi-inspired.  

The first 3,000 units of the Flagship X variant comes with a bodykit and this adds a bit of a sporty flair to the S70. It looks better without the bodykit as the black rubber sealant of the bodykit interrupts the lines of the car especially when optioned in white.

The front grille features diamond-shaped chrome pins a lot like on the X90 but without such an aggressive expanding theme to it. Around back you’ll find LED taillights with playful animations when the car is locked and unlocked.

I like the way the car looks from the inside. There’s just enough character to project confidence, the lines are strong and inoffensive and there’s a touch of modernity with the LED lighting. I would have preferred a more professionally finished body kit and Proton logos on the grille and rim caps look like they were picked up from an accessory shop. There’s room for improvement, but there are no major complaints.

Boot space is good at 500L with a space-saver spare tyre but the rear seats only partially fold down. Rear occupants are well taken care of here with a USB-A and USB-C charging port, a centre armrest, rear air vents, plus door cards with really good construction and a nice mix of high-quality materials.

In fact build quality and material selection in the cabin is excellent and consistent throughout the vehicle. It feels like a modern Volkswagen in here with a touch more flair.

Digital elements are pretty impressive. Proton have opted for a light theme for both the instrument cluster and driver instrumentation. Animations are pretty smooth and fast but the infotainment unit remains Proton’s biggest weakness.

Complaints? It takes a long while to start up, it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s a loud beep that occurs when a Bluetooth device is connected.

A single mid-mounted LED provides adequate lighting. The Flagship X model comes with a sunroof but we found it to be an annoyance in our weather, particularly because the air conditioning wasn’t quite as strong  as most other Proton sedans have been in the past.

The “Should You Buy?” Summary

If you’re here because you’re looking for a quick answer to the “should I buy an S70?” question, here it is:

If you can afford a non-national C-segment car but would rather save about RM40,000 for something that does most of the work, then yes. The S70 might make sense. The boot is big, it carries the same number of passengers, resale value may be worse but you’re saving on the initial purchase price and your interest on a loan.

If you’re already in a much older City or Vios from 10 years ago and don’t want anything much bigger, then also yes, the S70 will feel like a big upgrade generally.

HOWEVER, if you’re in the market for a current generation non-national B-segment, then the answer is a bit more complicated. That’s because the S70 does some things much better and some things much worse than its direct rivals from Japan. It’s not quite as nice in traffic, it has some refinement and tuning missteps that the Japanese have sorted out, and packaging is more sporty than practical. If this is going to be your household’s ONLY car or your first car, then you may feel safer in the hands of the tried and tested options from Japan.

Personally, I think the Proton S70 is very impressive for the price and will work wonderfully as a 2nd car for many households.

Proton S70 Flagship X Specifications

Engine: Inline 3, DOHC Petrol Turbocharged, Port Injected
Capacity: 1,477cc
Gearbox: 7-speed DCT
Max power: 148hp @ 5,500rpm
Max torque: 226Nm @ 1,750rpm
Price: RM94,800

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

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