After the successful launch of the Proton X70, Proton is expected to follow up on their turnaround plan with the introduction of a smaller SUV based on the Geely Binyue, which was recently introduced in China.
Positioned below the X70, the Geely Binyue would logically adopt the X50 name here (local name yet to be confirmed). Unlike the Proton X70/Geely Boyue, the newer Binyue utilizes an all-new BMA platform - a simpler version of the CMA platform that Geely co-developed with Volvo, currently underpinning the XC40.
In China, the Geely Binyue is priced from CNY 78,800 for the 1.0-litre turbocharged (134 hp/205 Nm) model paired to a six-speed manual. The more powerful 1.5-litre turbocharged (174 hp/255 Nm) model that is paired to a seven-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission, is priced from CNY 88,800 onwards. For comparison, the Geely Boyue (Proton X70) is priced from CNY 129,800 for the base 1.8-litre turbocharged (181 hp/285 Nm) model fitted with the GKUI infotainment system.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged model is the one we will most likely receive here in Malaysia, as Proton’s Head of Engineering, Yang Jun, confirmed back in December that Proton will be receiving Geely’s new 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, but stopped short on mentioning which model would feature the engine.
Factoring the similar quantum in price gap between the Binyue and Boyue in China (25 to 30 percent difference in prices), Malaysian consumers can expect the forthcoming X50 to have a ballpark price very close to that of the Perodua Aruz (estimated from RM72,000). The Proton X70 is priced between RM99,800 and RM123,800.
Proton has yet to confirm any launch timing for this model, but Geely has previously announced that it will license three models to Proton until 2020 - the Boyue, Binyue, and VF11 MPV. The Boyue has since been launched as the Proton X70 back in December 2018, so it's quite reasonable to expect the Binyue to hit local showrooms later this year. The VF11 has been announced for China but is yet to go on sale there so we don't expect the model to arrive here before 2020.
When it arrives in Malaysia, the compact Proton SUV will compete against the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Renault Captur, but considering its price, it's quite possible for it to attract buyers of the seven-seater Perodua Aruz, especially those who value safety and refinement over the utility of a third-row seat. The same can also be said for the SUV-esque seven-seater Honda BR-V, which starts from RM 80,989.