New Proton X50: A track preview before launch

PETALING JAYA: A preview and track experience of the new Proton X50 was held at the test track of Proton's CoE about two weeks ago ahead of its launch today.

The X50 has been updated for 2024. It's actually a minor refresh with upgrades worth RM6,000 as revealed at the new X50 launch.

The X50 was launched in 2020 and has been the best-selling SUV in Malaysia over the past four years, with over 110,000 units sold.

But it is an ageing model and it's facing keen competition from a number of Chinese car players (Chery Omoda 5 and lately GAC GS3 Emzoom) with their own B-segment rivals.

So for the time being, these few upgrades are what Proton is able to muster ahead of a proper facelift. Prices remain unchanged, so admittedly, there's some added value in the new X50.

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To lure the "early birds", a RM7,000 discount is offered along with a RM1,500 overtrade for trade-ins. The offer is valid for the first 5,000 customers who register their new purchase by July 31.

The X50 track experience preview on May 23 was to drum up some buzz on what the new SUV had to offer in terms of comfort, safety features and other enhancements.

The improvements in the 2024 X50 are not obvious from just looking at the exterior of the compact SUV. The exterior is the same as before. What has changed are the interior and the "under-the-skin" features.

A 10.3-inch infotainment head unit is now standard across all four variants (Standard, Executive, Premium and Flagship) and it's more powerful and responsive. What's more, the Standard and Executive are now on the same page with the two higher-end variants as they now sport full digital meter clusters as well.

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Over 20 sound dampening materials have been added to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The sound dampening did add to a quieter and more comfortable ride when the X50 was taken on a high speed run around the track.

The high-res 360-degree camera is certainly a welcome improvement, as it features 3.3 times more pixels than before. Its clarity and crispness was showcased in a demo when the driver had to slowly drive forward and back between two cones in a meandering sourse using only the infotainment screen to guide a 3D model of the SUV through. The windscreen and windows were covered to ensure the driver could only rely on the camera to "see" and move.

To make things interesting, bottles of mineral water were placed at each cone to demonstrate the sharpness of the camera, and the ability of the driver to detect and avoid crushing them.

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A "Staggered Gate" exercise showed off the dynamic handling of the X50 as it zig-zagged its way in between cones. While there's body roll from its tall stance and comfort suspension settings, it did a decent job at navigating its way around without feeling skittish. Power from the 1.5-litre petrol mill was delivered smoothly to the front wheels via the 7-speed DCT.

Now also standard on Premium and Flagship variants is a powered tailgate. It was previously an option.

The Proton Link app - which can start the engine and air-conditioning to cool the cabin remotely - has now filtered down to the Executive variant.

Proton has dropped the Citric Orange body colour, reducing the choice to just five: Snow White, Armour Silver, Jet Grey, Ocean Blue and Passion Red.

On a final note, Proton underscored the importance of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - available in all four variants since 2020 - with an exercise by its drivers on what can happen with and without ESC armed.  It reminded everyone that the ESC is a safety net to give the driver some measure of control to bring the vehicle to a safe stop in sudden high-speed evasive manoeuvres.

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Autos Proton