Cars, Local News, Proton

2020 Proton X70 CKD – 7DCT vs 6AT servicing costs


If you haven’t heard, the 2020 Proton X70 CKD was recently launched in Malaysia, now packing a new seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission instead of a six-speed torque converter automatic that was found in the previous fully-imported CBU units.

Pricing starts from RM94,800, and you can find out everything that’s new with the popular C-segment SUV in our comprehensive launch report. We reckon many of you will have questions about the new 7DCT, particularly how it feels, so there’s also our written and video review to look at.

Another question that is probably on the minds of potential buyers is just what impact the new transmission will have on the X70’s maintenance cost, considering it is technically a more complex piece of kit than the 6AT. Well, we’ll answer that question right here.

Pulling the figures from Proton’s official service schedules for the CKD and CBU versions of the SUV, and putting it into neat tables, you can see that the locally-assembled model is comparatively cheaper to maintain over 100,000 km or five years.

Going into detail, the serviceable items for both versions are largely identical, but the X70 CBU requires a transmission oil change much sooner at the 60,000-km/36-month mark. By comparison, the X70 CKD’s change comes at the 90,000-km/54-month mark.

The difference in maintenance costs is largely due to the cost of the transmission oils used, with X70 CBU owners needing to pay RM500.96, while it is RM353.45 for the X70 CKD. The latter requires four litres of Shell Spirax S5 DCT10 transmission oil, while the former uses eight litres of Geely ATF 3292 by Fuchs Petrolub.

Proton X70 maintenance costs: CKD (top), CBU (bottom)

On a year-to-year basis, the maintenance costs between the CKD and CBU models are largely identical, with the exception of the third and fifth year. In the third year, X70 CKD owners will pay less but this is reversed in the fifth year due to the delayed transmission oil change for the 7DCT.

In any case, owners of the X70 CKD will no longer have a service bill above RM1,000 every 10,000 km/6 months from now on, so it is less likely you’ll be surprised by a huge bill at the service centre. But anyway, all scheduled service costs are available on the Proton website and MyProton mobile app.

There you have it, the new X70 CKD is cheaper to maintain compared to the previous CBU model despite being equipped with a more advanced transmission, even if the difference isn’t by a huge margin for those in the market for such a model.

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Car Reviews, Cars, Proton, Proton X70 SUV, Video Reviews, Videos

DRIVEN: 2020 Proton X70 CKD with 7DCT in Malaysia – full review


When the original Proton X70 was launched back in 2018, there were a lot of people saying it was like getting a Volvo XC60 on the cheap. That’s obviously not true, of course, with the engine being all Geely and the transmission coming from Geely-owned DSI. Still, there’s no doubt the brand association did help the X70’s image and sales.

Proton has sold around 28,000 units of its first SUV model so far, and perhaps even more telling is its claim that the X70 was the best-selling vehicle (regardless of body type) priced above RM100,000 in Malaysia throughout 2019 (and seventh best overall for the year). Out of all that, over 50% X70 customers opted for the Premium variant, signalling that once again people are willing to spend money on a Proton.

I, for one, certainly was, and I did the deed – there’s a Cinnamon Brown X70 Premium parked at home now. It has been completely faultless over 13 months and 16,000 km, in case you’re wondering.

The market acceptance – for both the X70 model and the Proton brand – was nothing short of astounding. The halo effect helped the rest of Proton’s existing range too, with the carmaker registering 100,821 vehicles in 2019, up a massive 55.7% compared to the year prior.

Now, the 2020 Proton X70 CKD is here, with Proton hoping to continue its positive growth into the years to come. The targets are astronomically high: to be Malaysia’s number one carmaker (i.e. overcoming Perodua, as unlikely as that may sound now) as well as claiming a top three slot in ASEAN by 2027. This is a big first step towards all that.

Proton won’t go unassisted, obviously. The X70’s Volvo connection is no longer through association alone; the 2020 version now uses the exact same transmission as the Swedish premium brand, which is a Volvo/Geely-developed seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (7DCT).

So, it’s now time to answer all your questions regarding the new Tanjung Malim-assembled 2020 X70 CKD. What’s the 7DCT like? What’s new and what has been left unchanged? Does it handle better now with Proton tuning? And what about the build quality, now that it’s made in Malaysia? Continue reading, then.

First up, let’s start with what I find to be a little disappointing – the styling changes, or rather the lack thereof. After months after months of being told to expect “some surprises” and “unique differences” in the CKD model by Proton’s lead designer, what we have here now is underwhelming. There’s no other way to say it.

Practically the only change visually is the adoption of Proton’s new logo, this being the first model to do so. The “uncaged tiger” emblem is now used throughout the car: on the front grille, the centre wheel caps, steering boss and even the small prints on the windows.

Personally, I find the new logo to be a little gaudy, and as it is on the X70’s grille, a tiny bit on the large side too. It doesn’t help that the Infinite Weave pattern appears to naturally cradle a triangular crest, making the big round logo appearing slightly out of place. I’ve been assured repeatedly, however, that you will get used to the new logo, and soon. Time will tell.

The application on the steering boss is no less ham-fisted too. It’s finished in bright chrome, standing in stark contrast against the predominantly black and satin silver cabin. A bit more consistency would have helped here, for sure.

In Proton’s defence, though, the X70 is hardly a year old, and it would be somewhat unrealistic to expect a radical change so soon into the model’s life cycle. After all, the car is still fresh to the eyes of Malaysian motorists, the company says. My take is, that’s fair enough. Just, maybe lay off from making bold, sensational claims next time? Being understated does have its value – just ask Perodua.

Proton also says that customers can expect more changes, both visually and mechanically in time to come. It’s worth noting that Proton has started to latch on model years into its car names – the 2019 Saga, 2020 X70, etc. – so perhaps it is planning to roll out yearly updates for all its models, constantly keeping its products fresh. If executed well, there are big gains to be had, both for the company and us, the consumers.

The styling letdown aside, the most significant change for the CKD model is the switch from a traditional six-speed torque converter automatic to a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. As mentioned above, this is a true blue Proton-Volvo tech sharing, being the exact same design as used in various Volvo models (though none are available in Malaysia as of yet).

Made in Geely’s new transmission plant in Ningbo, China, which also supplies the same gearboxes to Volvo’s assembly lines in Sweden and the USA, the wet clutch 7DCT weighs just 75 kg, compared to the older 6AT’s 98 kg. But beyond a simple weight saving measure, it’s clearly a much more advanced piece of machinery.

Geely claims that it’s a fair bit more efficient compared to the old 6AT, to the benefit of outright performance as well as fuel efficiency. More than that, the Chinese manufacturer even goes on to say that its design achieves a higher efficiency rate (max 97%, overall 94.6%) than Volkswagen’s DSGs (overall 91% for wet, 92% for dry units). The 6AT benchmark has an overall efficiency rate of 89%.

I myself have put my own X70 with 6AT on a dyno last year, where it recorded 160 hp and 248.5 Nm on the wheel against the official claimed (on crank) figures of 181 hp and 285 Nm. That translates to an efficiency rate of around 88% (or 12% transmission losses), which is close enough to Geely’s numbers.

With the more efficient 7DCT on board, more of what the engine makes can be transferred to the wheels, so even though the 2020 X70’s engine outputs remain largely the same at 181 hp and 300 Nm (up 15 Nm, more on that later), the car effectively gets a substantial performance boost – theoretically 171 hp and 284 Nm on the wheel, up 11 hp and 35 Nm compared to the CBU model’s dyno numbers.

These aren’t mere claims either, as the 0-100 km/h time has dropped from 10.5 seconds in the 2018/2019 X70 to 9.5 seconds for the 2020 model. A full second quicker is a significant change, no matter how you look at it.

Surprisingly enough, Proton also claims that it has fine-tuned the 7DCT’s power delivery characteristics to be slightly more aggressive to suit typical Malaysian driving behaviour (stand by a busy traffic light for five minutes and you’ll understand how they came to this conclusion). Drivers in China are apparently a lot more relaxed than us, which isn’t hard to believe.

On the road, you can certainly notice the improved performance of the 2020 X70. It is by no means an X70 R3 now, but it accelerates harder than its precedessor, both from a standstill and at speeds. Through my butt dyno, it doesn’t really feel like a sub-10 second 0-100 km/h-car, with a rather slow surge from a dead stop, but it’s definitely less lazy than the 6AT-equipped model.

On to how the 7DCT feels from behind the wheel – the best way to describe it is “like a normal automatic,” which in this case, is not a bad thing.

Most dual-clutch transmissions, even the best of them, have a rather distinct behaviour: rough coming off from a stop, and ultra smooth beyond that with lightning-quick, near-imperceptible gear shifts. The X70’s 7DCT, however, shows complete polar opposite characteristics.

It starts off with a clean and gentle creep (rare among DCTs), much like a regular traditional torque converter automatic, but as the speeds rise, you do feel the gearchanges – small little lapses and pauses of power delivery as the cogs change. So it isn’t quite as seamless as a typical DCT is, but it is smoother at slower speeds. It’s a very likeable gearbox in my books – again, much like a normal automatic.

The slower gear shifts compared to other DCTs could be down to Geely/Volvo prioritising the transmission’s absolute reliability over outright performance; using more reasonable/manageable speeds instead of chasing every last tenth. If the choice was mine, I’d have done the same too.

In many ways, the 7DCT here doesn’t feel like a dual-clutch unit at all. There’s no hunting for gears in start-stop situations, nor do you feel the transmission struggling at all when going up slopes. As enjoyable and quick-shifting as most VW DSGs are, you’d have to admit that they feel clumsy in a traffic jam, and especially around multi-level parking lots.

Simply put, this is not a performance-biased transmission in any way or form. A lot of people associate DCTs with performance cars such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Mercedes-AMG A 45 or even the Nissan GT-R, but this very one is a whole different breed. The focus here is more on maximising efficiency rather than performance.

And it sure has worked. Proton claims that the 2020 X70’s fuel consumption has improved by 13% compared to its predecessor, now rated at 7.6 litres per 100 km, or 13.2 km/l. My own 2018 X70 6AT has averaged around 10 km/l over 16,000 km of mostly city traffic, so even if you round down the claimed improvement to 10%, 11 km/l for a big and heavy SUV doesn’t sound bad at all.

As this transmission is shared with Volvo, it had to comply to the Swedish carmaker’s high durability requirements. It’s designed to have a product life time of 350,000 km, which is 46% longer than the industry standard of 240,000 km (used by most European and American carmakers).

Seeing that Volvo has a rather decent reputation when it comes to mechanical reliability cetainly bodes well for the 2020 X70. The Geely and Volvo R&D team deployed testing teams across a wide variety of roads and locations globally, including hot, crowded, hilly, dry and wet conditions. The validation mileage totalled over nine million km over 17 tests, double the normal OEM standard.

Proton ran its own durability tests in Malaysia too, racking over 100,000 km in six months, including stress tests of going up and down Genting Highlands. It’s also worth remembering that this transmission runs an oil-cooled wet clutch design rather than the typically more problematic dry DCTs. Geely, Volvo and by extension Proton, are confident that the 7DCT won’t be beset by reliability issues.

It should also be slightly cheaper to maintain, with the Proton service handbook stating 7DCT fluid changes are required at every 80,000 km or four years, compared to every 60,000 km/three years for the previous 6AT. Previously, Geely had also mentioned that its own proprietary DCT transmission fluid, marketed by Shell as the Spirax S5 DCT10, would be cheaper to buy than the recommended ATF for the outgoing 6AT.

Win-win then, cheaper to maintain and cheaper to run. That’s always good to know.

Another change that comes along with the new transmission is the electronic shift-by-wire gear lever. This is similar to what carmakers such as BMW have been using for quite a while now – a joystick that can be rocked back and forth to select the desired drive modes, which goes back to its original position once released.

Park can be selected via an oversized button on the knob itself, and before you say you can’t rest your palm on the lever as you drive along now, lest you mistakenly press the button, fret not, as there’s a foolproof override that cancels out the request if you do so. A buzzer will come on, along with an accompanying warning screen on the digital instrument cluster. Clever.

The gear lever itself does look good, but while it adds a touch of modernity to the somewhat sombre cabin design, I do believe that a bit more effort could have been put in to fit the lever onto an otherwise-unchanged centre console. In my opinion it looks rather undercooked, especially the large piece of bare black plastic trim around the base of the lever, which has no stylistic cues whatsoever. A little bit of that Proton Design magic here would have been much appreciated.

The 1.8 litre turbocharged direct injection engine remains mechanically identical to the outgoing model, with the extra torque not coming from Geely wanting to give it more performance per se, but rather because the previous 285 Nm rating was limited by the old 6AT gearbox. With the new 7DCT rated at up to 330 Nm, the engine can now be tuned back up to its natural state of 181 hp and 300 Nm of torque.

What has been updated is the engine cover, which now sports a new design and “Proton GPower” letterings. Weirdly enough, the cover layout visually suggests the use of a longitudinally-mounted engine instead of a transverse motor, even though the car obviously adopts the latter. Certainly one for car nerds to laugh about, this.

It came as a surprise to me and I’m sure a few others as well that Proton had chosen to run the same 1.8 litre four-cylinder turbo engine instead of the newer 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo motor that is now available on various Volvo and Geely models, together with the 7DCT. The smaller engine, being of a more advanced Volvo design would have elevated the X70’s stature even more, I would have thought.

Proton’s justification for this is simple: it had run a series of surveys among existing and potential X70 customers, and the conclusion is that Malaysians are still somewhat conservative when it comes to engine size. Apparently, we still prefer a larger-capacity engine for SUVs which are deemed big and heavy, regardless of the high outputs that smaller, downsized units can now offer.

While I have not personally tested the new 1.5 litre engine just yet, its three-cylinder design is a bit of a worry for me – there’s no telling just how smooth or refined it will be. Refinement being one of the X70’s key strengths compared to its competition – I rate it ahead of the Honda CR-V by a mile, and superior even than the Mazda CX-5 by a pinch – it would be a shame if that advantage is taken away by a less refined motor up front.

The smaller engine has the potential of offering more power and even better fuel economy, but it also runs the risk of compromising the refined edge of the X70 as a whole. Look at it that way, and Proton’s decision to keep the 1.8 litre turbo four starts to make a lot more sense.

Now on to other notable updates on the 2020 X70. There are now ventilated front seats fitted on Executive variants and up. With Malaysia being as hot as it is, this addition is a Godsend in my books, being able to cool your bottoms at a press of a button.

Speaking of that, however, there are no physical buttons to activate the new feature – they’re burried under the HVAC screen within the touchscreen head unit. You can also activate it through the much lauded “Hi Proton” voice commands, but again, I myself see this novel feature as a marketing gimmick, and not something you’d actually use on a daily basis.

In a year of ownership, I’ve used voice commands perhaps a total of five times, including the few times of showing it off to friends. Beyond that, there’s not much use for it as the voice recognition system is still very much hit and miss, and I’d much rather use actual buttons for all the controls anyway. Nothing against the new ventilated seats, which I love, but more the lack of dedicated controls for them, which I don’t.

Another change is reclining rear seats, fixing one of the original X70’s minor drawbacks – the rear backrest can now be adjusted from 27 to 32 degrees of recline. The update necessitated a redesign of the seat hinges, now with added railings for the sturdier tonneau cover too. As part of the update package, the sides walls of the cargo area also gain carpeting and an extra hook for shopping bags.

Beyond that, the 2020 Executive variant also gains a power tailgate, with the Premium versions adding a foot sensor. More than anything else, this was the feature that a lot of existing X70 owners wanted the most – with quite a number of them even retrofitting the feature at the risk of voiding the warranty – so it’s great to see Proton taking in their feedback for this yearly update.

Yet another change made based off customer feedback and demand is the new variant lineup of Standard, Executive, Premium and Premium X. The Executive AWD option has been dropped, as that version accounted for less than five percent of the CBU model’s sales tally. What’s more interesting is the introduction of a new Premium X flagship model.

This, essentially, is a carry over of the outgoing Premium model, complete with all the bells and whistles, while the new 2020 Premium variant is the exact same, but without the panoramic sunroof – practically making the sunroof an optional item at the top of the range.

The way it is now, customers who truly want a sunroof can still get an X70 with one fitted (Premium X), while those who don’t, but still want the rest of the Premium goodies like the 19-inch wheels, Nappa leather upholstery and ADAS active safety suite can get their ideal specs too. If I was given such a choice in 2018, I would have gladly saved the difference and picked the solid-roofed Premium.

What’s less positive, is the SUV’s driving dynamics. Unfortunately, the 2020 X70 has not been given the full Proton ride and handling treatment, with just some fine-tuning work done to the dampers and not much else. The suspension hard points, the springs, even the steering characteristics, remain as before.

The revised dampers do work as intended, reducing body-roll through corners, improving body control while not compromising ride comfort. But unless you’re very familiar with the original X70, or are lucky enough to compare them back to back, you’ll hardly notice the difference. There’s clearly an improvement, but ultimately the 2020 version feels very much like the old car and by extension, the Geely Boyue.

A taller Preve or Iriz, this is not, then. With the original X70’s handling characteristics being its biggest weakness (average by class standards, well behind the athletic CX-5), this is definitely a disappointment.

The payback for this, though, is fantastic ride comfort. The X70 has the best ride quality in its class, striking the perfect middle ground between the stiff CX-5 and the overly soft and rolly-polly CR-V. Compared to its similarly priced rivals such as the HR-V, this is on a whole different planet, to be completely frank. Borrowing one of Proton’s old taglines, you really need to drive it to believe it.

It may not be a fun car to throw into corners with, but it is supremely comfortable be it in the city or on the highways, with a stable and planted feel even at high speeds. It’s a pleasure to drive in that sense, if not exactly fun in the more traditional sense of the word.

As for build quality, the cars we drove were pre-production units with a few minor flaws (untidy paint finishes, uneven panel gaps), but I’ve been assured that all of them have been fixed for the production units. Speaking to those in the know, I believe them.

Inside, the interior’s fit and finish and material use is on par with my own fully-imported unit, with no discernible difference to be seen. Looking closely, the Nappa leather upholstery now appears to be more cocoa instead of saddle brown, but beyond that, the two models appear nigh on identical. Trust me, I’ve looked for flaws to report, but failed.

That also means in terms of look and feel, it is still far ahead of the local CR-V, if not quite on the same level of the CX-5 in my books. Those who are always skeptical of locally-assembled cars, well, head on over to Proton showrooms to make your own conclusions.

So there you go, the 2020 Proton X70 CKD. Yes, visually it’s a bit underwhelming, because apart than the new logos it’s exactly the same as before, but the improvements underneath are much more impressive. The new seven-speed wet DCT feels good, very solid, and it really does help both performance and fuel economy. Plus, you can now rightly say you’re getting a piece of Volvo in your Proton.

Beyond that, the other changes like the reclinable rear seat, power boot, ventilated front seats, slightly improved handling and the move to make the sunroof optional really makes it clear that Proton is listening to its customers to make constant incremental improvements to give them what they want.

As for the CKD build quality, it’s pretty much the same as the CBU, so for those worried about quality issues, well, you don’t have to. And besides, since when is “Made in China” better than “Made in Malaysia” anyway?

Overall, yes, this 2020 X70 is a small step forward, not a big leap over the CBU model. But the fact is, the original X70 was a great car, and this new one is even better. At this price range, nothing even comes close – the Proton is in a class of its own.

Heck, I’ll say it again, even if it’s priced the same as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, the Proton X70 is still the one I would buy for myself, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone looking for a family SUV. It’s a no brainer, really.

The 2020 Proton X70 CKD has just been launched in Malaysia, priced at RM94,800 for the Standard 2WD, RM106,800 for the Executive 2WD, RM119,800 for the Premium 2WD and RM122,800 for the Premium X. Prices include a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. You can browse full specifications and equipment on CarBase.my, and read our Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin reviews on the X70 CKD.

2020 Proton X70 CKD Infohub

GALLERY: 2020 Proton X70 CKD Premium X in Jet Grey
GALLERY: 2020 Proton X70 CKD driving exercise
GALLERY: 2020 Proton X70 CKD colour options

GALLERY: 2020 Proton X70 CKD official images

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Cars, Local News, Proton, Proton X70 SUV

2020 Proton X70 – no AWD variant due to low demand


When the Proton X70 was launched in December 2018, buyers were offered four variants to choose from, which included an Executive AWD option for those who required all-wheel drive. However, looking at the revised variant line-up of the recently-launched 2020 X70 CKD, you’ll notice that the all-wheel drive model has been dropped entirely.

While the variant count remains the same as before at four – Standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Premium 2WD and Premium X 2WD – the locally-assembled SUV is now front-wheel drive only. So, why did the national carmaker decide to proceed with this move?

The short answer is that there is just not that many customers interested in an all-wheel drive variant. Up until now, around 29,000 units of the X70 CBU have been delivered, and from that figure, around 50% of buyers opted for the then range-topping Premium 2WD variant.

By comparison, only 5% of buyers went with the Executive AWD option, and when there’s a lack of demand, a drop in supply is usually warranted. In the case of the X70 CKD, the low demand for all-wheel drive with the CBU version prompted the national carmaker to forgo an all-wheel drive option altogether.

Given that the previous Premium 2WD was the only variant that came with Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) – it can be presumed that customers preferred to have a host of safety and driver assistance features over an all-wheel drive system.

Those who are for all-wheel drive would welcome its sure-footedness, while detractors will bring up the additional running/maintenance cost that typically comes with the added complexity of such a system. On the latter, the difference in maintenance costs over 150,000 km/7.5 years for the 2WD and 4WD variants is only RM129.68 following Proton’s service schedule for the X70 CBU.

Of course, some would prefer to have ADAS and all-wheel drive in one package, but as Proton doesn’t offer a variant with both features, we’ll never know if there’s any market appeal should it be introduced to the market. What are your thoughts on the matter? Would you be interested in an even higher-spec X70 with both AWD and ADAS? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2020 Proton X70 CKD Infohub

GALLERY: 2020 Proton X70 CKD official images

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Cars, Local News, Proton

2020 Proton X70 CKD details: 4 variants, AWD dropped, new ventilated seats and power boot


Click to enlarge

With the 2020 Proton X70 set to be launched soon, many are curious about just what is new with the locally-assembled (CKD) version, especially in the specs department. Well, here are a couple of leaked images of the CKD X70 as well as a slide listing down the variants and features, as seen on The Ajerul‘s Facebook page.

There are four variants and they are the Standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Premium 2WD and Premium 2WD X. This means that the Executive AWD, currently the sole variant with all-wheel drive, has been dropped, possibly due to low demand. Before we dive into the specs, let’s see what’s new, visually.

It’s clear that the CKD X70 looks pretty much similar to the CBU version that we’re familiar with – this isn’t the Boyue Pro with the new face. The easiest way to spot a CKD is by the new Proton logo on the grille, which is a round one with the tiger head zooming out from one side. The rear end with the trademark Proton script looks identical, as are the lighting at both ends.

Click to enlarge

Nice colour, isn’t it? This looks like a new grey colour (Honda’s Polished Metal-style?) that should prove to be popular. The current CBU colours are Snow White, Armour Silver, Jet Grey, Cinnamon Brown and Flame Red.

The other two images are close up shots of the SUV’s interior. As expected, the steering wheel boss now features Proton’s new round logo, and the gear selector is also new. Now with a prominent P button, the lever controls the new seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which replaces the CBU’s six-speed torque converter automatic. We’ve already sampled this new gearbox, and you can learn more about it here.

That’s all from the images. We move on to the leaked slide, which details the CKD X70’s variants and specs. Once again, there are four – Standard 2WD, Executive 2WD, Premium 2WD and Premium 2WD X. The new items are comfort and convenience features.

Click to enlarge

A recline function for the 60:40 split-folding rear seats is now available across the board, while the Executive 2WD onwards get a powered tailgate and front ventilated seats. The latter would be rather valuable in our hot climate. The powered tailgate gets a foot sensor from the Premium onwards – this means that you can open the hatch with your hands full – just stand there and swipe or “kick” (we’ll see how Proton’s version work) below the bumper.

That’s all for the new kit. The Premium X is essentially the Premium with the panoramic sunroof. A big glass roof is appreciated by some, but not everyone fancies it – X70 customers can now choose if they want it.

The engine – a 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 PS – remains the same, but peak torque has been given a bump to 300 Nm from 1,750 to 4,000 rpm, which is 15 Nm more than the previous 285 Nm from 1,700 to 4,400 rpm.

The increased torque comes as part of a revision of the engine, internally referred to as Generation 3 (the one in the CBU X70 is known as the Generation 2). There aren’t any mechanical changes, save for updated emissions equipment that can be tuned to meet new Euro 6d regulations. The DCT has a maximum torque rating of 330 Nm, so 300 Nm is within limits.

As used in Geely and Volvo models, this DCT is claimed to have class-leading efficiency – Geely says it actually benchmarked Volkswagen’s dry clutch DSGs (which provide lower driveline losses than Wolfsburg’s wet clutch units) here, with an overall efficiency figure of 94.6% and a maximum figure of 97%. The latter number is close to a good old-fashioned manual gearbox, and is also much higher than Aisin’s eight- (88%) and six-speed (89%) autos. Full story on the new gearbox here.

Not long now. What do you think of the new features of the CKD X70 such as the DCT, ventilated seats and powered tailgate?

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Car Reviews, Cars, Proton

DRIVEN: 2020 Proton X70 CKD seven-speed wet DCT review


It’s safe to say that the Proton X70 has been nothing short of a massive success for the national carmaker. Since its launch in late 2018, it has been one of the company’s bestsellers, with more than 26,000 units finding homes last year alone. More importantly, it has sown the seed of change within Proton, altering long-running customer perceptions and informing a new range of vastly improved models.

And it only takes one drive in the SUV for you to see why. Proton may have drummed up hype with its attention-grabbing “Hi Proton” voice control system, but look past the trinketry and you’ll realise there is a solid car underneath. Interior quality, long a bugbear in Chinese vehicles, is exemplary; it’s also supremely comfortable and quiet enough at a cruise to shame vehicles two, maybe even three classes above.

But it’s not perfect, and the sole notable bugbear – and not a big one at that – is the gearbox. The six-speed automatic may be a world away from the wretched Punch CVTs, but it’s still not the sharpest of transmissions around, masking the X70’s true turn of speed. It also contributes to the car’s less-than-stellar fuel economy.

Happily, all that will change when the CKD locally-assembled 2020 model goes on sale very soon, as it will receive a new seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, developed in collaboration between Geely and Volvo. Is a high-tech gearbox a good fit for this large crossover? We tested it out in China to find out.

Full disclosure first. The car we drove in Ningbo, Zhejiang a few weeks ago was the Geely Boyue Pro, an upgraded version of the model the X70 is based on. Before you get any ideas, no, the Pro isn’t coming to Malaysia anytime soon – we got our hands on it simply because it was the only Boyue variant to come with the 1.8 litre TGDi engine and DCT combination (which has since been extended to the normal version).

So the main focus here is the transmission which, as mentioned, is a wet clutch DCT. This gearbox is fitted to a variety of Geely and Lynk & Co models, usually accompanied by the latest 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder mill. There is also an electrified version that is found on the group’s plug-in hybrid models, including the Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine (the regular petrol variant gets an Aisin eight-speed auto).

In the X70, the non-electrified unit will be paired to the existing 1.8 litre turbo four-pot, replacing the six-speed torque converter auto built by the Geely-owned Drivetrain Systems International (DSI). In fact, Geely no longer uses gearboxes from DSI, as the six-speed slushbox it now utilises – confusingly mated to the 1.5 litre mill in the Boyue Pro – is sourced from Aisin.

Back to the DCT, which is said to be of roughly the same size as the outgoing auto and weighs less, tipping the scales at just 75 kg. The gearbox comes with a BMW-style shift-by-wire electronic gearlever and paddle shifters, and can shift gears in as little as 0.3 seconds. It also has a maximum torque rating of 330 Nm, which allowed engineers to free up an extra 15 Nm from the 1.8 litre mill, bringing the total up to 300 Nm, available from 1,750 to 4,000 rpm. Power remains identical at 181 hp at 5,500 rpm.

The increased torque comes as part of a revision of the engine, internally referred to as Generation 3 (the one in the CBU, imported X70 is known as the Generation 2). There aren’t any mechanical changes, save for updated emissions equipment that can be tuned to meet new Euro 6d regulations, if so required.

Geely claims the DCT provides class-leading efficiency, and it says it actually benchmarked Volkswagen’s dry clutch DSGs (which provide lower driveline losses than Wolfsburg’s wet clutch units) here, with an overall efficiency figure of 94.6% and a maximum figure of 97%. The latter number is close to a good old-fashioned manual gearbox, and is also much higher than Aisin’s eight- (88%) and six-speed (89%) autos.

But while the company says that’s enough for a 1.0 litre per 100 km improvement in fuel consumption over the previous Boyue, the Pro’s quoted figure of 7.5 litres per 100 km is only 0.3 lower than before. Time will tell if the CKD X70 can achieve the same sort of improvement in the real world.

It’s important at this point to address the elephant in the room – reliability. Dry clutch DCTs may be efficiency champions, but both VW and Ford have been scarred by various issues related to these gearboxes, such as premature wear and poor refinement over time. The subject of a mountain of complaints, recalls, buybacks and class action lawsuits, the dry clutch DCT has sullied the reputation of the once-adulated technology.

Simply by switching to an inherently more robust wet clutch design, Geely is confident it is able to avoid these issues. Speaking to us during the event, senior chief engineer Tejinder Singh said that bathing the clutches in cooled oil gets rid of the temperature-related issues that beset dry clutch DCTs, and it also eradicates most of the low-speed hesitation and juddering encountered by consumers in the past.

Geely’s DCT also conforms to Volvo’s stricter durability requirements, designed for a service life of more than 350,000 km – significantly higher than the industry standard of 240,000 km. The company has also conducted numerous hot and cold weather and high-altitude tests in China, South Africa and Europe, racking up over nine million kilometres before putting the gearbox into production.

One important fact often overlooked by consumers is that DCTs require different fluids with unique properties compared to traditional automatic transmission fluids. Geely’s unit uses a proprietary low-viscosity formulation, which Tejinder said further improves reliability and smoothness.

It is, of course, way too early to properly assess maintenance costs vis-à-vis the previous automatic gearbox, but while Proton has yet to announce specific figures, it said that service intervals will be comparable, and in fact the fluid will be cheaper than the ATF used in the CBU X70.

We tested the Boyue Pro at the Chunxiao powertrain plant in Ningbo, which builds the DCT for every application, even the Volvo ones. The state-of-the-art facility, opened in 2017, currently churns out 50,000 of these gearboxes every month, but Geely expects to ramp up that figure to a whopping 200,000 units monthly. A second plant is being built in Changing, also in Zhejiang, to increase production still further.

At this juncture, I would like to point out that the “test drive” in question consisted of just a couple of runs up and down the arrow-straight and runway-flat piece of road behind the factory, so it could hardly be considered a challenging route – a more thorough test on local roads will be conducted very soon. This, then, is merely a brief taster of what’s to come, but hopefully an informative one all the same.

Something that consumers will need to understand before getting into the car is that because a dual-clutch transmission works in a fundamentally different way compared to a regular automatic, it also behaves differently. Engineers work very hard to replicate the behaviour of a torque converter, from its smoothness in operation to its quick response upon stepping off.

One of the biggest hurdles these engineers face is implementing a “creep” function – the ability of the car to simply roll forwards (or backwards, in reverse) without touching the accelerator. It’s something that comes naturally to a torque converter, but in a DCT this requires the slipping of one of the clutches, which of course causes wear. Balancing the requirements of customer satisfaction and reliability is therefore key.

Indeed, the first thing I noticed driving the car was that the “creep” was not quite as pronounced as it would have been with a conventional auto. This wasn’t exactly a bad thing, just something I had to get used to (as will owners). At least the gearbox responded quickly as soon as the brake pedal was released, and did not adversely affect our progress from a standstill (I’m looking at you, Mercedes-Benz A-Class).

And once we got rolling, the Boyue Pro picked up speed noticeably quicker than the CBU X70 ever could. Whereas the outgoing model felt a little lazy off the line, the new one accelerated with considerable vigour. This could have been down to the extra twist on hand, but I’d wager a guess and say that the DCT was actually more efficient in transmitting power to the ground.

Gearshifts were also seamless and instantaneous in automatic mode, and downshifts came swiftly whenever I floored the throttle. One minor niggle was that the paddle shifters weren’t quite as responsive as I’d have liked, often taking close to a second after clicking one of them for the shift to follow through. It really wasn’t that big of an issue, however, especially on a family-oriented SUV.

More worrying was the fact that some members of the media reported a slight but noticeable thump as the gearbox downshifted while coming to a stop, though it wasn’t something that I personally experienced. While it might alarm those stepping out from a smooth-shifting automatic, it could simply be a quirk of this particular DCT, and it certainly wouldn’t have been as pronounced as in, say, a tired VW dry clutch DSG.

We were also given the opportunity to try out the previous Mercedes GLA back-to-back with the Boyue Pro. This being fitted with a first-generation Daimler DCT, it inevitably felt outclassed, being slow to respond to throttle inputs and shifting sluggishly between gears. It was a perfect demonstration of how far dual-clutch technology has come, even though both feature wet clutch designs.

Despite the brevity of this encounter, one thing is clear – Geely’s venture into dual-clutch transmissions is a very competent one. This is a high-tech gearbox that belies the relative inexperience of the company, performing better than gearboxes from supposedly more established brands. It exhibits very few flaws but provides some excellent benefits, not least being the car’s newfound verve under acceleration.

Some questions remain, of course. We still don’t know how well the gearbox will fare in our weather, on our roads and amongst our cutthroat traffic, though we’ll find that out soon enough. And while Geely makes big claims about the DCT’s reliability, those of you who have been stung by past issues will understandably still be concerned. Like I said, only time will tell.

Until then, the introduction of this new DCT looks to bring some welcome improvements to an already compelling package. More than that, it proves that Geely isn’t going to restrict Proton from receiving its latest technologies, and for us customers, that can only be a good thing. With the smaller X50 SUV also due to arrive this year, it’s set to be a great 2020 for the once-beleaguered national brand.

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Cars, Local News, Proton

Customised Proton X70 delivered to Tengku Sulaiman


Proton has handed over a customised X70 to HH Tengku Sulaiman Shah Alhaj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj, brother of HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Sultan of Selangor. Familiar? The royal is also the owner of a customised Proton Perdana 2.4L, which was delivered in 2016.

As with his previous customised Proton, Tengku Sulaiman’s X70 here wears a custom shade of blue – a colour that isn’t part of the X70’s regular palette comprising Snow White, Armour Silver, Jet Grey, Cinnamon Brown and Flame Red. Rolling stock continues to be 19 inches in diameter with the same 225/55R19 tyre size, albeit on a different wheel design with a polished finish.

Elsewhere, chrome is used for the front bumper inserts and side sills. Additional LED strips have been added to the SUV’s exterior. Inside, the customised Proton X70 channels the theme from its owner’s customised Perdana in using grey leather seats with blue inserts, joined by a light grey headliner.

The theme continues from the customised Perdana, with wood trim for the centre console, rear tray tables and door inserts and like the Perdana, a multimedia player has been installed behind each front headrest. As standard, the Proton X70 is powered by a 1.8 litre direct-injection turbo petrol four-cylinder engine, producing 181 hp at 5,500 rpm and 285 Nm of torque from 1,700 rpm to 4,400 rpm, channeled to the driven wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

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Cars, Local News, Proton

2020 Proton X70 CKD to get 7-speed wet DCT – shared with Volvo, torque up 15 Nm, 7.5 litres per 100 km


Proton is gearing up for its first big launch of the year, the locally-assembled 2020 X70. Ahead of its impending unveiling, the national carmaker has confirmed that the CKD SUV will swap out its six-speed automatic gearbox for a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, developed by Geely and Volvo.

The wet clutch unit is already found in the Volvo XC40 and the latest range of Lynk & Co and Geely models, where it is mated to the (also co-developed) 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. In the X70, however, the 1.8 litre direct-injected turbo four-pot will soldier on, although it is technically of a new iteration referred to internally as Generation 3 (the one in the CBU import is the Generation 2 mill).

Apparently, there are no major mechanical changes, but the addition of two clutches has freed up an extra 15 Nm of torque, bumping the total figure up to 300 Nm from 1,750 to 4,000 rpm; power remains identical at 181 hp at 5,500 rpm. The engine also features revised emissions equipment that allows it to meet new Euro 6d regulations if required, although of course it can still run on our Euro 4M petrol.

The new gearbox has also provided marginal gains in fuel efficiency, with the quoted combined figure going down from 7.8 litres per 100 km to 7.5 for a front-wheel drive model. Given that the CBU model was only capable of 9.8 litres per 100 km in our Driven Web Series, expect a similar discrepancy between the given number and what you can achieve in the real world.

Beyond the new gearbox, Proton has not revealed any other changes forthcoming for the X70, but we do know that the car will come with the new roundel badge up front. There will also be a smaller electronic gearlever to go with the DCT, similar to what you’d find on modern BMWs (and indeed, Volvos).

We can also expect a few additions to the equipment list such as a powered tailgate, and possibly even some chassis tweaks. Production units of the 2020 X70 are rolling out of Tanjung Malim as we speak, so the launch will happen sooner rather than later. We had a brief test drive of a Geely Boyue Pro in China with the same engine and gearbox combination, and you will be able to read about it shortly.

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Cars, Local News, Proton

Proton X70 CKD 7-speed wet DCT: more efficient than VW DSGs, >350k km lifetime, meets Volvo standards


Proton has recently confirmed that the locally-assembled 2020 X70 will come with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and ahead of its impending launch, the national carmaker brought a select group of media to Ningbo, Zhejiang in China to learn more about the new gearbox.

The wet clutch unit, developed by Geely and Volvo, is being built in Geely’s Chunxiao and Changing plants in Zhejiang province, and it is currently found in variants of the Volvo XC40 and a range of Lynk & Co and Geely models that use the new 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Some Geely models, like the Boyue the X70 is based on, also get the DCT with the existing 1.8 litre turbo four-pot mill.

In those models, it replaces the six-speed automatic from the Geely-owned Australian gearbox manufacturer Drivetrain Systems International (DSI). In fact, Geely no longer uses gearboxes from DSI, as the six-speed auto offered on the Boyue Pro – mated, confusingly, to the 1.5 litre engine – is sourced from Aisin.

Back to the DCT, which is said to be of roughly the same size as the torque converter auto and weighs less, at just 75 kg. The gearbox comes with a BMW-style shift-by-wire electronic gearlever and paddle shifters, and can shift gears in as little as 0.3 seconds and has a maximum torque rating of 330 Nm. This frees up an extra 15 Nm from the 1.8 litre engine, bringing the total up to 300 Nm. Power remains the same at 181 hp.

Geely claims the DCT provides class-leading efficiency, and it says it actually benchmarked Volkswagen’s dry clutch DSGs (which provide lower driveline losses than Wolfsburg’s wet clutch units) here, with an overall efficiency figure of 94.6% and a maximum figure of 97%.

The latter number is close to a good old-fashioned manual gearbox, and it enables the Chinese-market Boyue to achieve a claimed fuel consumption figure of 7.5 litres per 100 km with the 1.8 litre engine and front-wheel drive – down from the 7.8 litres per 100 km the outgoing six-speeder is capable of mustering. Geely says the gearbox is also more efficient than Aisin’s eight- (88%) and six-speed (89%) autos.

But aside from being efficiency champions, VW’s dry clutch DSGs have also been beset with reliability issues, something Geely is confident it’s able to avoid. Apart from the inherently more robust nature of wet clutches, the company says its DCT conforms to Volvo’s stricter durability requirements, designed for a service life of more than 350,000 km – significantly higher than the industry standard of 240,000 km.

The company has also conducted numerous tests in extreme weather conditions, with hot weather tests in Turpan, China, Alice Springs, Australia and South Africa, plus cold weather tests in Jokkmokk and Colmis in Sweden and Heihe and Yakeshi in China. High altitude tests at the Kunlun Mountain and the Alps, wet weather tests in Hainan and city driving tests in Chongqing, Shanghai, Gothenburg and Stockholm have also taken place, and all in all, the gearbox has racked up over nine million kilometres in testing.

Further improving reliability and efficiency is the use of proprietary low-viscosity transmission fluid – particularly important as DCTs require a different formulation compared to traditional automatic transmission fluid. While Proton has yet to provide specific figures, it did say the service intervals are comparable to the regular automatic, and in fact the fluid is cheaper than the ATF it uses for the CBU imported X70.

Production units of the 2020 X70 are rolling out of Tanjung Malim as we speak, so the launch will happen sooner rather than later. We had a brief test drive of a Geely Boyue Pro in China with the same engine and gearbox combination, and you will be able to read about it shortly.

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Cars, Local News, Proton

2020 Proton X70 CKD 7-speed wet DCT – “dry clutch reliability and smoothness issues are in the past now”


With Proton set to introduce a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in its locally-assembled 2020 X70, questions will no doubt be asked about the gearbox’s reliability, especially after Malaysians have been stung by the woes that plagued twin-clutch Volkswagen and Ford models.

On its part, Geely is confident that its DCT won’t be beset by those issues, which typically affect dry clutch transmissions. At a press conference during our visit to the company’s facilities in Ningbo, Zhejiang in China, its senior chief engineer Tejinder Singh said the use of an oil-cooled wet clutch design eliminates most of the problems that have tarnished the reputation of DCTs.

“A lot of the early DCTs had reliability issues when they had dry clutches, [which] typically don’t have as good a thermal capability. With wet clutches we pump roughly 12 to 15 litres of oil per minute to dissipate the heat, but dry clutches don’t have that. That was one reason why there were a lot of temperature-related issues.”

Tejinder added that dry clutch gearboxes are exposed to the elements and can be affected by weather conditions. “With the humidity changing, with the temperature changing, with a dirty environment, with a clean environment, there can be a lot of deviation. So some days you’ll feel that the shifts are good, other days, it’s drier and the shifts are not as pleasant. There were a lot of complaints because of that.

“Now, with the wet clutches the way we have at Geely, it is just like an automatic transmission – it is a controlled environment, it is oil cooled. The oil is filtered and maintained within a temperature range. So a lot of the temperature issues are [in the past] for most manufacturers, and in our case even with Volvo heavy-duty vehicles, weighing 2.3 tonnes with an almost two-tone trailer on grades with starts and stops, we have shown that we are very good [in terms of durability].”

The use of wet clutches also sidesteps much of the smoothness and refinement issues affecting dry clutches, said Tejinder. “A lot of those launch hesitations, shudders and judders, especially during parallel parking, are characteristics of dry clutch launches. With a wet clutch launch, nearly 99% of those issues go away.”

He also said that the specially formulated transmission fluid goes a long way towards smoothening out launches from a standstill and gearshifts. “You always have to pay attention to the interaction between the friction material and the type of oil you use.

“Geely has a proprietary oil that was developed after a lot of testing. It works with our clutch design, and there is a certain profile to the coefficient of friction with the slip speed which we carefully monitor and carefully control. The characteristics have been developed as such that at launch you won’t have any shudder or judder, and during shifting [as well].”

Production units of the 2020 X70 are rolling out of Tanjung Malim as we speak, so the launch will happen sooner rather than later. We had a brief test drive of a Geely Boyue Pro in China with the same engine and gearbox combination, and you will be able to read about it shortly.

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Cars, Local News, Proton

Proton, Fook Loi open new 3S Centre in Tawau, Sabah


Proton, together with Fook Loi Corporation, have opened the doors to a brand new 3S Centre in Tawau, Sabah. The outlet is Fook Loi’s fourth in the eastern Malaysian state, with three others located in Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu, and Sandakan. All four branches were opened in under 15 months.

Now, the Tawau showroom can display up to five cars, and there are 10 service bays with four hoists. Basic amenities such as kids corner, coffee bar, laptop charging ports, as well as free WiFi. The opening of this showroom brings the tally of Proton 3S and 4S centres to 120 locations nationwide.

Fook Loi Corporation Group CEO, Thomas Chiu Kul Yin said: “We are very happy and pleased that we can grow and expand our presence in Sabah. Our business is going from strength to strength, and investing and staying invested in the Proton brand has been a good decision from the start.”

Proton CEO, Dr Li Chunrong said: “Our goal has always been about providing the best sales and service to our customers, and we can only achieve this if we have sufficient outlets with well-trained sales and service staff. The new and upgraded centres have proven to attract people to take more notice of the brand. This is evident as our sales have soared past 100,000 units, with over 56% growth over 2018. These are tremendous results and we humbly thank our dealers and sales force for delivering their best efforts.”

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