Tested: Proton X90 Flagship

Tested: Proton X90 Flagship

The Proton X90 is a significant model for the car maker in several reasons. For one, this is PROTON’s largest model in its line-up and its first entry into the D-segment. The X90 is also the brand’s first NEV (new energy vehicle); launched in 2023 to coincide with its 40th birthday.

The X90 is a large vehicle and we will also get the elephant in the room out of the way. Measuring 4,835 mm long, 1,900 mm wide, and 1,764 mm tall, the X90 is built on a 2,815 mm long wheelbase and is adapted from the Geely Haoyue.

As mentioned, the Proton X90 is an NEV though many would consider it a technicality. The X90 is a mild hybrid, using a 1.5L TGDi turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that is supplemented by a 48V EMS (Electric Motor Synergy) system. The EMS is made up of a 48-volt Belt Starter Generator (BSG) motor, DC-DC converter, 48-volt Li-ion battery, Battery Management System, Recuperation Braking System, and Hybrid Module Control System. Paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, this hybrid system is supposed to deliver better fuel efficiency and performance, besides the feel-good factor of reduced emissions. Proton X90_1.5L 3-Cylinder Turbo Engine_48V EMS Hybrid

The engine offers 177 PS (175 hp) and 255 Nm of torque, while the EMS adds 13 PS (13 hp) and 45 Nm to make it a total of 190 PS (187 hp) and 300 Nm. The combination should provide this 3-row SUV with better acceleration, which it does. If you drive it like a person who is ferrying family in it.

Don’t get me wrong, the X90 is not a sloth. The extra boost from the BSG indeed helps with initial acceleration to get it up to speed. It’s really only at highway speeds where you feel some complaining by the engine especially when you are aggressive on the throttle e.g. when overtaking. Plan your overtaking manoeuvres and you can largely circumvent that. This is because you may probably not remember that the X90 has a 3-cylinder engine under the hood as the cabin is relatively insulated from NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). That is, until your driving becomes more aggressive. Also, the steering feel is on the light (unless you’re in Sport mode) so which may make it a little uncomfortable at higher speeds. This isn’t a big issue as long as it’s driven like the family SUV it’s meant to be. Furthermore, the hybrid system works seamlessly in the background providing several modes e.g. ‘smart glide’ which disengages the gearbox when you’re coasting at a constant speed (between 30 – 120 km/h). This in effect would improve fuel economy, which means more savings for the next family holiday. Proton_X90 Flagship_Tail Lights

The ride for the most part is quiet and comfortable, with body roll in the corners contained nicely that it doesn’t feel nervous which means passenger comfort on long journeys is assured. It’s mentioned that the X90 is based off the Geely Haoyue, but where it gets differentiated is PROTON’s effort to make use of its experience and knowledge in the ride and handling department. Here, PROTON swapped the Haoyue’s rear torsion beam set-up for a multi-link one without sacrificing too much in cabin / cargo space. But it still is a fairly large and tall SUV after all and you have to drive it within its physical limits.

The review unit is the top-of-the-line X90 Flagship, which means it is a 6-seater with captain seats occupying the 2nd row. It is by and large a pleasant cabin that is straightforward in styling and doesn’t do a whole lot to polarise opinion. Furthermore, the panoramic sunroof and the off-white pillar and headliner trim help to give the cabin a more spacious feel. Another Proton-exclusive here is the top-side air vents for the rear passengers which will be more effective in cabin cooling than the Haoyue’s rear air vents in the centre console.

The materials used in the cabin are of fairly good quality and the nappa leather upholstery on the seats are comfortable to rest on, though some care is needed as evidenced by stains on the review unit. The occupants of the 2nd row captain seats get to enjoy seat ventilation, much like those in the front row. There is also a ‘Boss’ switch for the 2nd row passenger, or the driver to easily move the front passenger seat to gain more legroom in the rear.

The spacious captain seats in the 2nd row also means access to the 3rd row is a little restrictive for larger bodied people who need to squeeze in between the captain chairs’ armrests. In a sense, this encourages the allocation of the 3rd row seats to smaller sized individuals who would find no issue with the space back there, so it’s a win-win for all. In terms of practicality, I would prefer a pure 7-seater but PROTON probably also wants to target the chauffeured crowd who want something less obvious on the road and would primarily use it as a 4-seater at most.

Speaking of practicality, the X90’s infotainment system, with the 12.3″ touchscreen, runs its own firmware and has its own connected services for navigation and music, and doesn’t connect with Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay. It does have the Spotify app but to use Waze or Google Maps, you will have to mirror your phone instead. This really is not a deal-breaker in my opinion, unless you are a chronic user of these in-car mobile phone software. Regardless, the X90’s infotainment firmware gets updates over-the-air, enabling features and apps to stay updated. It also has the “Hi Proton” voice control though you would need to memorise which vehicle functions can work with it (for example, it won’t open the powered tailgate for you). Likewise, you would just need to familiarise yourself with the native navigation app to make the full use of it. Furthermore, you can remotely monitor and control specific functions of the vehicle, e.g. starting the engine and set the air-conditioning via the Proton Link app in your phone. And to charge your phone, there are 7 USB ports in total, as well as a wireless charging pad in front.

For active safety, the X90 Flagship is fitted with a comprehensive suite of ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) that includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, rear collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, lane centering control, emergency lane keep assist, lane change assist, traffic sign information, rear cross traffic alert, door opening warning, and intelligent high beam control. There is also a 360-degree view camera to aid in parking and manoeuvring tight spaces. Or you can make use of the Auto Park Assist which is quite easy as you can drag and drop on the touchscreen your intended parking spot. However, skilled drivers would find this process too cumbersome and slow.

Overall, the Proton X90 Flagship is a feature-rich offering providing a fairly comfortable ride. It is by no means perfect (I’d prefer that it came with a tonneau cover for the cargo area but it’s not the only SUV that is missing it) but it ferries people around in an assuring way. Launched with a price of RM152,800, this has to be in your list if you spend most of your time idling in city traffic, but need to drive a 6-seat SUV. Or you can forego some features e.g. captain seats and Boss switch, and gain an extra seat for a 7th person, as well as some savings and go with the 7-seater X90 Premium (RM144,800).

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