Is the new three-cylinder 2022 Proton X70 1.5 TGDi Premium 2WD underpowered?

The 2022 Proton X70 debuted earlier this year with a new three-cylinder engine. How has the loss of one cylinder affected the 2022 Proton X70 1.5L TDGi Premium 2WD? Lisa Kuok found out on the way to Desaru, Johor

The 2022 Proton X70 1.5 TGDi SUV has a new engine, a three-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-litre mill, assembled at Proton, Tanjung Malin. One cylinder, 30cc, 6bhp and 45Nm of torque is the difference between the new 1.5-litre and the previous 1.8-litre engine.

Proton introduced the new three-cylinder engine to reduce fuel consumption after issues raised by consumers. The other advantage is the economy of scale over time as the engine is also used in the top-of-the range X50 and will be the main engine for future Proton models (more below). Perhaps the biggest hurdle for the new engine is perception. Beliefs such as three cylinder-engines being inferior because they’re unbalanced and that the reduced displacement equates to less capability.  Our drive to Desaru demonstrated under real driving conditions that the three-cylinder X70 is just as good as the four-cylinder version. Our verdict, any differences were not perceptible.

The removal of one cylinder wasn’t noticeable. The SUV didn’t sound different, nor was it less powerful in operation. The new engine has lower output but the 1.5-litre SUV also weighs less. The three cylinder engine is 27kg lighter and an additional 30-plus kilo has also been saved by taking out the sunroof. The total 60kg reduction leaves the power to weight ratio unchanged at 108bhp per tonne – with the bonus of lower fuel consumption.

Then there is the outdated notion that three cylinder engines lack refinement caused by having an odd number of combustion chambers. Performance-wise, the 2022 Proton X70 1.5 was smooth and responsive. Acoustically, it wasn’t audible even under heavy acceleration. The NVH also damped out noise intrusion, in the cabin as well as outside.  On windy roads, the evenly weighted steering made the X70 enjoyable to drive – more so than expected.

Apart from the new engine, there are no major differences between last year’s and this year’s X70. Externally, the 2022 Proton X70 1.5 looks like the 2021 Proton X70 1.8 except for minor styling details like quartz black finishing on the front and rear bumpers, new 19-inch alloy wheels, and black headliner. The colours offered are the same with identical badges and emblems, which are located in the same places.

The 2022 Proton X70 1.5  is one of the best value cars in the market for its price and size. Especially the Premium which has active safety features like autonomous braking, lane keep warning, collision warning, blind spot monitoring and tyre pressure monitoring. Other safety features across the range are six airbags, ABS, stability control and ISOFIX.

There is also Voice command. “Hello, Proton,” followed by a command will have the car turning up or down the air-con temperature or fan speed or attending to the opening and closing of the car windows. You could also switch on or off the radio, change audio sources, increase or decrease the volume… Gimmicky, some might say but it came in handy when I accidentally depressed the window switches, opening one of the windows while it was raining. Instead of taking my eyes off the road to fumble around the switches, I called out, “Hello, Proton,… close all the windows,” and the deed was done.

There are also brown Nappa leather seats which makes the cabin look premium. The interior also looks stylish with brushed metal-effect fascia. The cabin comfort features and infotainment are on a digital display, as is the instrument cluster. There is also an N95 cabin filter and air purifying system. Another convenient features are the rain sensor wipers and power tailgate with foot sensor.

For those still unconvinced, an identically kitted four-cylinder Proton X70 1.8 TGDi Premium 2WD, is also available. The price of scepticism is an extra RM3900, which comes with the advantage of 0.3 seconds in the 0-100km/h sprint.

Proton’s new three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine

Proton has a new three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged engine that will power future generations of Proton cars. During a visit to Tanjung Malim for the unveiling of the new hi-tech engine assembly line, Proton executives announced that the new engine will also power three future Proton models. Proton declined to share any details of these future models.

The award-wining engine is in multiple Geely brands. To date, it is in use in over 750,000 vehicles sold globally. It has a low inertia turbocharger and homogenised GDI (gasoline direct injection) which provides performance as well as fuel economy and lower emissions. The engine is capable of meeting Euro 6 emissions requirements.

The highly automated 1.5 TGDI assembly line has 88 stations comprised of 17 automatic, 15 semi-automatic and 56 manual stations. The  climate controlled clean environment factory has an anti-static station to allow for the discharge of static electricity to protect the high-tech electronic components used. The assembly line moves on a conveyor system that is not only smoother but is also cleaner, more durable and less costly to operate than one that uses a chain.

All workers on the assembly line have undergone extensive training with Geely. They are also trained by the suppliers in the operation of the machines used on the line. These include names such as ABB, COMAU, FEV China, FEV India, WiBeda and Hangxin.

Internet of Things (IOT) technology, intensive data capture and analysis tools ensure the standards required are met and maintained. In addition, there are 207 Error Mistake Proofing (EMP) controls and 34 intelligent high-resolution cameras installed on the line. They prevent process and assembly defects and reduce downtime with 100% real-time defect detection capabilities.

The locally-assembled engine has 72 parts supplied by 19 Malaysian and four ASEAN vendors.

2022 Proton X70 1.5 TGDi Premium 2WD
Price RM123,800 (on-the-road)
Capacity 1477cc
Engine 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Gearbox 7-speed automatic
Power 175bhp
Torque 255Nm
0-100km/h 9.8seconds
Consumption 7.8km/L (tested)