PROTON IS BACK, AND BETTER THAN EVER
Getting back with your (X)50 – I got the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of the Proton X50. Here’s my thoughts.
If you’re looking to spend between R500 000 – R600 000 on a brand-new crossover, well, then the Proton X50 is a worthy contender for your hard-earned cash and worth a test drive.
Proton returns to South Africa after almost a decade with the hope to ruffle some feathers amongst the highly competitive compact crossover segment that’s currently dominated by more established brands and big-value Chinese propositions.
Their return sees three new models, the X50, X70 and Saga. After my week behind the wheel of their Compact Cross over – the X50, I have a strong feeling that they are here to stay!
Ok so let’s address the Elephant in the room: we have trust issues. Just like a partner who’s walked out on you before, you never quite know where you stand. Yes, it’s going to be a slow start to this relationship and really difficult to commit, but as soon as you’re ready to forgive, forget and put the past behind you, you will realise that Proton is worthy of your love (and money).
After driving the X50 I can confirm that Proton has returned smarter, more intelligent, more mature, and well, much better looking – talk about the ultimate glow-up.
At first glance, the X50 has a particularly sporty look, especially in the top-of-the-range, flagship TDGI guise. Two-tone paint, an aggressive front end with a carbon fibre look – spoiler and lip, and beautiful 18-inch allow wheels with red brake callipers. Come around the back and the first things you notice are the rear apron spoiler and quad exhaust pipes. When I was a kid, I judged how fast a car was purely by the number of exhaust pipes it had. If this was back then, I would have misjudged the X50 because they serve more of an aesthetic function, and while they serve that well, don’t expect a brutal cold start – not even in sport mode. This particular trim also sees the addition of a large panoramic sunroof.
Taking a look inside. The X50’s interior is spacious, well-designed and made up of good-quality materials. The seating is comfortable and the driver’s seat is electronically adjustable. The 330-litre boot space may not be class-leading but will store your grocery haul with ease.
As far as tech and safety go the X50 boasts a 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating, you can expect six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, an easy-to-use 10.25-inch touchscreen with actual volume buttons (thank you Proton!), lane keep assist – one of the better systems out there, autonomous parking and 360-degree camera.
While it does cost significantly more to get some of these extra features on your X50, you will be happy to know that even in entry-level trim, the X50 still has utilised the same 1.5 litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine which is honestly the star of the show.
The engine makes 130kw and 255nm of torque and it delivers this power effortlessly via its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Acceleration is linear and turbo lag is almost non-existent. Around town, the vehicle is responsive and eager and on long open roads it’s comfortable cruising. Sport mode sharpens up the throttle and steering and makes the vehicle more responsive but was never my desired driving mode.
The vehicle handled particularly well and is sporty yet soaked up our bumpy Gauteng back roads with ease. The claimed fuel consumption of 6.8l/ 100 evaded me though, even if it was just by a litre or two.
Priced at R580 000, the Proton X50 TGDI impressed me with its performance, design, and features. The car’s engine delivered a smooth and exhilarating driving experience, while its modern and sporty design is certainly what’s going to get Proton the much-deserved attention. Although the lack of Apple Car Play, Android Auto, wireless charging and automatic tailgate are features that would be welcomed in a vehicle at this price tag.
Their current limited dealer network is a challenging factor however Proton has assured that part and component availability are not an issue for the South African market.
Pricing starts at R399 900 (through Proton’s R50 000 Deal Assistance)
The vehicle comes with 5 years, unlimited km warranty and 5-year roadside assistance.
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