Proton and Perodua's rivalry set to reach new heights soon, but is it a straight-up fight?
When Mohammed Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time, it was dubbed the "Fight of the Century". It was a fight that everyone was looking forward to as it was supposed to be the so-called comeback for the rightful owner of the heavyweight boxing throne, Ali.
The build-up to the fight was monumental because, despite Ali's unbeaten run in the heavyweight class, he had lost the title due to his meddling in politics. Ali, who had learnt his lesson quietly stayed away from the limelight, and after some time, they finally gave him another chance at the title which he eventually won.
Although boxing and cars are two worlds apart, the same lesson can be learnt here, and that lesson is if you ever meddle around in politics, something has got to give, and usually, it is something that you care about the most.
Just like Ali and Frazier, Proton and Perodua have been engaged in one of the biggest rivalries we have ever seen. With a lot of politics involved in Proton, they naturally lost their title as Malaysia's best selling car to Perodua who kept it on the straight and narrow.
Now that Proton is under new owners Geely, they can finally get back to the business of selling cars and Proton can finally challenge again. The Proton X70 was the opening punch, but the most significant battle that is about to happen between these two national makers is just around the corner, and it involves the upcoming Proton X50 and Perodua D55L.
Although nothing is confirmed yet, we can make an educated guess based on leaks and what we know so far. All the opinions down below are just guesstimations so the final versions might be slightly different.
Both will be entry-level SUVs, but the similarities end there as they will be selling in different segments based on size. If we look at the data based on its genesis vehicle (Daihatsu Rocky for D55L and Geely Binyue for X50), the prices will be different too with the Perodua being the cheaper of the two based on equipment, size and powertrain.
The D55L's smaller size puts it closer to the A-segment rather than the B segment which the larger X50 will be in. This translates into more room and boot space in the X50 despite it having a lower roofline. The Daihatsu Rocky does have a false floor in the boot but Perodua will likely put the spare tyre there, keeping in line with Perodua's philosophy of including the basics.
The Daihatsu in its home market is equipped with a 1.0-litre turbo engine mated to a CVT gearbox. It would be a big surprise if the D55L would come with this powertrain because we believe that the D55L will come with the tried and tested powertrain that is currently in the Myvi (102hp/136Nm, four-speed AT) but then again, Perodua please prove us wrong! The X50, on the other hand, will most probably come with a 174hp/255 Nm 1.5 litre turbocharged mill mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
If we look at the possible equipment list available on the X50's Binyue base car, there is a plethora of equipment that the X50 will come with that the D55L simply cannot compete with. These include dual-zone climate control, air purifier, panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable driver’s seat and a 10.25-inch display, Hi Proton, big screen you have.
Referring back to their donor cars, both SUVs can be equipped with an array of driver assistance systems, six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control as well as stability control. Only the X50 might also be equipped with lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring as the Geely Binyue SUV has these options.
This will be the most mysterious part of the comparison as its just too speculative to even guess how much they will be. However, you can probably guess based on their closest sibling vehicles. The Proton X70 retails from RM95k while the Aruz can be had from RM72k - you do the maths.
Which will sell more? It remains to be seen, but then again, in the first fight, the more sophisticated Ali did lose to Frazier who was more straightforward and built like a tank. Who will land the knockout blow?