Automotive, Feature

Proton S70 – Malaysia Gets the Best Version of the Geely Emgrand

The Proton S70 is really shaping up to be one of the national carmaker’s most anticipated models yet. After all, it is Proton’s first sedan since the Persona, which was launched back in 2016. Now that Proton has revealed (most) of the S70’s specifications, it’s clear that Malaysia gets the best version of the Geely Emgrand.

It is no secret that the S70 is based on the Geely Emgrand, which is sold as a B-segment sedan in various markets. It makes sense, given that it sits on the same BMA platform as the X50, a B-segment SUV. However, for the Malaysian market, the S70 is actually positioned as a C-segment sedan, which is very intriguing.

But in my opinion, the S70 is a step above other B-segment sedans in our market, thanks to its comprehensive feature set. In more ways than one, it can be said that the S70 is a B-segment model that’s equipped like a C-segment sedan.

At a glance, the S70 brings some aesthetic changes over the Emgrand. These include the new Infinite Weave grille, a more conservative black and silver interior instead of the Emgrand’s blue and grey colour scheme, and some songket-inspired patterns placed throughout the cabin. But beyond these visual changes, there are two main features exclusive to the S70 that make it the “best version” of the Emgrand: performance and active safety features.

Let’s start with performance. Under the hood of the S70 is the same 1.5L turbocharged three-cylinder engine found in the non-Flagship X50. Producing 150PS and 226Nm of torque, the mill is paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This powertrain is certainly more impressive than what the Emgrand gets in other markets, which is a 1.5L NA engine (102PS/142Nm) mated to a CVT.

Even when compared to other B-segment sedans in Malaysia – most notably, the Honda City and Toyota Vios – the S70 is distinctively more powerful. The City has a 1.5L engine that produces 121PS and 145Nm of torque, while the Vios features a 1.5L mill that does 106PS and 138Nm of torque. Both sedans also feature a CVT.

With that in mind, it’s evident that the S70 is a faster car compared to these two B-segment staples. This makes sense for a model that is positioned as a C-segment sedan, right? Well, yes and no, as the S70 faces stiffer competition in the C-segment market, such as the ever popular Honda Civic.

After all, the current 11th gen Civic is powered by a 1.5L turbo engine that outputs 182PS and 240Nm of torque; these are 32PS and 14Nm more than what the S70’s turbo mill can produce. But on the flipside, the S70 does offer more power than the Toyota Corolla, which has a 1.8L engine with 139PS and 172Nm of torque – 11PS and 54Nm lower than the S70’s outputs.

That being said, the S70 does have a more sophisticated advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) over these two C-segment models. At least, that’s the impression I got based on my brief time with the S70 at a media preview earlier this month.

Naturally, the S70’s ADAS has the usual suite of active safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, intelligent cruise control, lane centering control, and lane change assist. But what makes the S70’s ADAS better is its refinement. For example, the ADAS feels more capable at negotiating sharper corners, and the lane centering control works at lower speeds too.

It’s also worth noting that the ADAS of the S70 supports traffic sign information. This is a feature that is not commonly found in the C-segment market, let alone the B-segment field.

The fact that Proton is equipping the S70 with this level of ADAS puts it comfortably in the C-segment market, in my opinion. Again, as the Emgrand doesn’t have ADAS in other markets, it brings us back to the fact that Malaysia truly gets the best version of the Emgrand in the form of the S70.

Of course, the S70 also has Proton’s signature ride and handling. Proton said that the sedan has been tuned for Malaysian roads, and it has been driven over 1.2 million kilometre in its development, taking up over 75,000 hours of testing. It also has three steering modes (Normal, Comfort, Sport), which can be customised to the car’s three driving modes of the same name.

At the end of the day, it will be the pricing of the Proton S70 that will determine how compelling it is, though an analyst claims that it will start below the RM85,000 price point. The official pricing will be revealed at the launch event of the sedan next week on 28 November. If you’d like to learn more about the S70, check out our test drive and walkaround video of the upcoming model.

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