Writter : Tanveer Mohiuddin
Photography : Ayan Rahman Khan
THE 5-SEATER VEHICLE COMES IN WITH A 1.5L TURBO ENGINE
Last month, PHP Automobiles have launched their first SUV, the Proton X-70. The unveiling took place on June 21– which created hype among many motoring journalists. X-70, the only SUV PHP is currently assembling, comes in three different variants—the Standard, Executive and Premium. All three variants will be available for test drives in all Proton showrooms in Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong. The Bangladeshi assembled X-70 will hit the market after the first 100 units are sold. The first 100 are being directly imported as part of the deal PHP had with the Malaysian manufacturer.
The 5-seater vehicle comes in with a 1.5L turbo engine, which is just about enough for regular city drive. This, however, by no means say the vehicle cannot perform well on the highway, the torque is more than adequate and sure is fun to drive—about which I’ll be mentioning below. The first impression of the vehicle was a little underwhelming when it came to the designing of the car, as the 2020 model had very few exterior changes compared to the previous model. This should not be a problem as the X-70 wasn’t around in the local market before. There are internal changes with the vehicle, for example, the transmission is from Volvo and Geely compared to that of the previous year’s, which was made by DSI—an Australian transmission manufacturer and developer. We have also been told the new gearbox weighs about 25 per cent lighter and is more efficient.
PHP automobiles wanted to prove the car’s reliability as it is one of the biggest concerns of the potential buyers in our market. Anything non-Japanese is somehow considered unreliable by the average car buyer and also another concern– about the parts not being as available. To address this, PHP is offering a 150,000 km warranty and is also providing aftersales services in all the three cities (Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet) the showrooms are located at. Taking the vehicle out on a test drive, the X-70 showed its true colours. The three-cylinder 1.5L turbo engine does not make the most mellifluous of sounds, certainly not going to be considered as a symphony to ones’ ears. The noise, however, does not transcend into the cabin. Being a passenger and driver of the vehicle, the car is relatively quiet but does sip in a little ground noise at higher speeds. The handling of the car is pretty average, but the higher placed seats do put the driver in a more commanding position. The ride is moderately stiffer compared to the Honda CRV, which is a good thing, as the vehicle feels nimbler and is more fun to drive as it stays planted to the ground at both low and high speeds. There are three driving modes you can choose from—Eco, Standard and Sport, depending on your mood and situation. But I’d recommend driving in the Standard mode within the city as its more fun compared to Eco. Another greatly useful feature is the blind spot sensors placed on the A-pillar on the passenger side, which turns on every time a car or bike comes too close from the left side. A very essential feature when it comes to driving around a busy city especially like Dhaka or Chittagong. The car gives around 7 km per litre on average in the city and around 15 on highways.
Even though the car categorizes as a compact crossover SUV and one might think it might get a bit too claustrophobic with 5 full-grown adults in the car but however, the cabin feels spacious. The panoramic sunroof lights up the interior and gives a roomier feel to the rear passengers too. The seats in both the front and back are extremely comfortable and with ventilated seats for the driver. Meaning, no matter how warm it gets, you would not have sweaty smudges on the back of your shirt after a long drive. The Nappa leather seats look amazing with the tan colour trim, which makes it look and feel expensive. The front of the cabin also features a dual climate zone with separate vents for the rear passengers placed on the far end of the centre console. The rear seats can be reclined which is essential when carrying passengers on long drives. The sunroof and windows can be activated through voice command, which is a neat feature for a car at this price range. We will come to the prices a bit later but first I must comment on the voice command feature, which is updated and easily understands what you are trying to say, that should be enough to impress your friends, the first time they get in the car. Even though anybody hardly uses it on a regular basis, it’s nice to know you have that feature. The premium version also provides an additional feature like the power boot function, enabling you to close the tailgate by the press of a button. The boot space is a bit compromised since it holds a full-sized spare wheel (19 inches) and a sub-woofer.