Today I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Proton X70. During its second round of preview for the media, the main focus is on the tech aspect of the SUV, particularly its infotainment system. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed but here’s my first impressions including its voice assistant feature.
On the centre console, the Proton X70 gets an 8″ touch screen interface which is powered by an Integrated Cockpit Information System (GKUI). It’s based on Android and the display pushes a resolution of 1280×720 which looks quite decent. Scrolling around with the capacitive display isn’t really as smooth as a smartphone but it’s still bearable. For the Executive and Premium variants, the X70 also comes with a 360 camera feature which makes parking in tight spots a breeze with its 4 integrated cameras.
Onboard it gets 16GB of storage which doesn’t sound much but Proton assures that storage won’t be an issue with its cloud based platform. In terms of connectivity, it supports 4G LTE with speeds up to 150Mbps and it can also function as a wireless hotspot to keep passengers connected.
However, it uses an integrated eSIM and Proton says that they are working with Celcom and other partners to come out with connectivity packages for its users. It isn’t clear if the plans will be offered as a monthly or yearly option but we are told that there’s a monthly quota and you can top up more if you’ve reached your limit.
In case you’re wondering, there’s no support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it does support screen mirroring for Android devices. Since GKUI is based on Android, it might be possible to side load Android apps via APK if you’re feeling adventurous.
By default, it uses Baidu Maps for its navigation and from my short experience it doesn’t work. It could be a bug on the unit or perhaps there’s no GPS signal since the preview was held indoors. It just refuses to navigate even if I typed in the destination by touch input.
For music, the GKUI platform also offers unlimited music streaming via a Cloud based partner from Tencent. We are told that Proton customers can stream for free without ads but it isn’t clear how extensive the music library is for the Malaysian market.
The biggest highlight of course is its voice recognition system. Like how you would summon Siri and Google Assistant, all you need to do is to say “Hi, Proton” followed by your command and its capability is very extensive. The idea behind this is to reduce distractions while driving and you can control everything else without taking your hands off the wheel. Not only you can control your music and radio, you can also control the air-conditioning, sunroof and even power windows by voice.
The voice system is also flexible in a way that it even recognises conversational commands. If you say “I’m feeling cold”, it will increase the aircon temperature and if you say “I want to see the sky”, it will know that you want to open the sunroof. You can also get it to find the nearest ATM by saying “I want to withdraw money” or locate the nearest restaurant by saying “I’m hungry”.
Interestingly, when I tried to wind down the driver side window by voice, the front passenger side window went down instead. I guess this is a minor conversion issue since the X70 is based on a Left Hand Drive Geely Boyue. Proton will definitely iron this out in the final production car.
The speech recognition is pretty accurate and it works better than expected. Proton says that they have submitted hundreds of voice samples from various dialects so that it can pickup different pronunciations. Unfortunately, it only supports English language for now.
The only issue I had was its responsiveness. There’s a few seconds delay and it’s noticeably slower than what you usually get from Google Assistant and Siri. It isn’t clear if it’s internet depended and perhaps it might perform quicker with a stronger mobile reception. Of course, if the environment is too noisy, the system may struggle to recognise your voice.
In terms of audio, the Proton X70 gets a total of 9 speakers with an amplifier and there’s even a subwoofer in the boot. For an even connected experience, there’s even a Remote Control feature via the Proton Link app. Using your smartphone, you can monitor your car’s status including driving range, fuel levels, odometer and even the car’s location. The app also allows you to unlock the boot, close all windows or have the lights and horn switched on.
The X70 also has a tyre pressure monitoring system but it’s only available on the premium 2WD variant. From the instrument cluster, you can view individual temperature and pressure for each tyre.
Speaking of connectivity, there’s a total of 6 USB ports in the X70. Proton says it pushes an output of 5V 2.4Amp which is good even for charging tablets. There’s two ports for both front occupants, one in the centre arm rest and two ports below the rear air-con vents.
For those who wish to install their own dash cam, there’s one more USB port near the rearview mirror. This is super convenient and you don’t need to pull a long cable to power the dash cam from the centre console.
Overall the Proton X70 looks promising but I wished that it comes with native support for CarPlay and Android Auto. Malaysians generally prefer to use Waze for navigation and hopefully we could sideload the app onto the GKUI system. Another thing that’s lacking is wireless charging and that would be a nice touch since most flagship smartphones these days have Qi Wireless charging support.
When it comes to connectivity, having an eSIM appears to be restrictive. You can’t just pop in a spare SIM with cheap data and you have to go with what Proton and their partners have to offer. Hopefully, it won’t cost too much as mobile data is important to enable all the connectivity features including the remote control smartphone app.
What do you guys think? Leave your comments down below.