AFTER months of anticipation, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched Proton Holdings Bhd’s first sport utility vehicle (SUV), the X70, which is priced from RM99,800 in Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak. (STR/OWEE AH CHUN)

AFTER months of anticipation, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched Proton Holdings Bhd’s first sport utility vehicle (SUV), the X70, which is priced from RM99,800 in Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

The X70 is available in four variants, namely the 1.8 TGDi Premium 2WD (RM123,800), 1.8 TGDi Executive AWD (RM115,800), 1.8 TGDi Executive 2WD (RM109,800) and 1.8TGDi Standard 2WD (RM99,800).

All four variants are powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged, petrol direct injection (TGDI) engine producing a maximum 181hp and 285Nm of torque.

The X70 is billed as the first premium SUV by a Malaysian automotive brand, and was jointly developed by Proton with partner Geely.

Proton is targeting a new market segment with the launch of the SUV, which has been hailed by the carmaker as the key catalyst for the “total rejuvenation” of the brand.

To provide more incentives to Malaysian buyers, special value-added packages were announced at the launch of the new SUV, known as Xtra packages.

The Xtra Service Package offers free parts and labour for the first service as well as free labour for five scheduled service appointments within 100,000km or five years.

The Xtra Low Financing Package offers low interest rates that start from 2.34 per cent per annum for qualified buyers.

The Xtra Warranty Coverage Package will cover the X70 for up to five years regardless of mileage, making it the first car by a national automotive brand to offer an unlimited mileage warranty.

Finally, the Xtra Data Package offers free Internet data plan for five years (capped at 1GB per month).

The launch is the culmination of more than a year of preparations.

Proton’s search for a foreign strategic partner ended in May last year, after China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group signed an agreement to acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in the national carmaker.

According to Proton, when developing the X70, both the company and Geely collaborated on multiple levels, from the cross deployment of staff in China and Malaysia and testing in the Malaysian climate to collaboration between local and international vendors.

The company said significant investments were made ahead of the arrival of the X70, including an ambitious network expansion plan by inviting new investors to start Proton outlets and offering incentives for existing dealers to upgrade their facilities to 3S and 4S centres.

To date, the plans for 115 centres have been approved with 71 already launched this year.

“The Proton X70 is the result of more than one year of hard work by Proton and Geely engineers, designers and hundreds of other people working together to develop the first premium SUV by a Malaysian car manufacturer. Proton is proud of our achievement and it is our belief Malaysian car buyers will be equally proud to own an SUV that will help to transform the Proton brand.

“With over 10,000 bookings, it already has a good start so we will work hard to deliver on our product and brand promise,” said Proton chief executive officer Dr Li Chunrong.

He said deliveries of the new SUV would commence over the next few weeks.

“We want customers to get their cars as soon as possible. Some have had to wait for over six months, having given their name to dealers before bookings were even officially opened, so Proton is thankful to them for their patience and incredible brand loyalty,” he added.

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