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Proton X90 Review – Mild Hybrid, Mild Results
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Proton X90 Review – Mild Hybrid, Mild Results

by March 18, 2024
Positives

+ Very spacious overall
+ Can be either 7-seats or 5-seats of superbly spacious boot space
+ Premium, modern interiors
+ Tall, high ground clearance, easier to see for better spatial / road awareness
+ Good NVH, though X70 is better
+ Dual-zone airconditioning
+ Ceiling-mounted rear air conditioners
+ Steering can be both light and heavy
+ Plenty of USB ports and a wireless charger
+ Auto parking
+ 360 camera makes it far easier to drive
+ The complete safety suite
+ Notifies you of tyre pressure, maintenance time, etc.

Negatives

- No Apple Carplay / Android Auto (for now)
- Driver's seat is a little cramped for tall people
- Seats need better thigh support
- Acceleration feels a little laggy
- Manual mode feels awkward to use
- Infotainment system and LCD meters can be hard to see in bright daylight
- Could use more storage compartments on panel
- Fuel economy could be better

Pokde Scoreboard
Pokde Rating
Appearance
8.0
Efficiency
5.0
Features
8.0
Materials
8.0
Performance
7.0
User Experience
7.5
Value
7.0
Bottom Line

The Proton X90 is a good family car, though I would say it would be even more attractive when Apple CarPlay / Android Auto support finally arrives. If you have a big family or a decent sized one but plan on carrying a lot of luggage around often, this will serve you well. Just be sure to set the right expectations first.

7.2
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Welcome to our inaugural car review, where we’re reviewing the Premium variant of the Proton X90. Just to set the tone moving forward, we will only be reviewing vehicles that aren’t fully reliant on an internal combustion engine (ICE). This means EVs, hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, and anything in between. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Proton X90 review.

Specifications

Proton X90 Review -

Proton X90 Review

Model Proton X90
Variants 1.5 TGDi BSG Standard 1.5 TGDi BSG Executive 1.5 TGDi BSG Premium 1.5 TGDi BSG Flagship
Engine
Engine Type 3-Cylinder In-Line, 12 Valve DOHC, TGDi with 48V Electric Motor Synergy System
Displacement (cc) 1477
Max Power (kW(PS)/rpm) 130 (177) / 5500
Max Torque (Nm/rpm) 255 / 1500~4000
Electric Motor (Max Power kW(PS) / Max Torque Nm) 10 (14) / 52
Fuel System Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres) 60L
Transmission
Transmission Type 7-Speed Dual Clutch Transmission with Manual Mode
Drive System 2WD
Chassis
Steering Electric Power Steering
Minimum Turning Radius (m) 5.9
Suspension (Front / Rear) MacPherson Strut / Multi-Link with Stabilizer
Brakes (Front / Rear) Ventilate Disc / Solid Disc
Parking Brakes Electric Parking Brake
Parking Brakes 225/55 R18 Alloy 235/55 R19 Alloy
Dimensions
Length x Width x Height (mm) 4830 x 1900 x 1764
Wheelbase (mm) 2805
Kerb Weight (kg) 1730 1738 1743 1740
Exterior
Headlamps LED LED LED LED
Daytime Running Lamps LED LED LED LED
Auto Headlamps & Follow Me Home
Front Sequential Turn Signal Lamps
Front Fog Lamps LED LED LED LED
Auto Rain Sensing Front Wipers
Power Tailgate With Nearby Auto Open With Nearby Auto Open
Interior
Steering Wheel Material Leather Nappa Leather
Steering Mode Selection (Normal, Comfort, Sport)
Cruise Control with Speed Limiter
Meter Combination Standard Full LCD Full LCD Full LCD
Drive Mode Selection (Eco, Comfort, Sport)
Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
Intelligent Entry with Push Start Button
Walk Away Auto Lock
Remote Engine Start
Front Welcome Lamps
Power Windows All Windows: with Anti-Trap
Panoramic Sunroof
Security Tint
Seat Material Fabric Leatherette Nappa Leather
Driver Power Seat 6-Way with Lumbar 2-Way with Lumbar 2-Way
Front Passenger Power Seat 4-Way with “Boss Switch”
Front Ventilated Seats
2nd Row Seat Configuration 60:40 Split Fold Captain Seats
2nd Row Ventilated Seats
3rd Row Seat Configuration 50:50 Split Fold
Auto Dual Zone Air-Condition with N95 Cabin Filter
Rear Air-Conditioning with 2nd & 3rd Row Air Vents
Ambient Lighting
Infotainment System
Touchscreen Monitor Size 12.3″
Voice Command
Online Navigation
Online Music Streaming
Online Weather Forecast
Smartphone Connectivity
Bluetooth Connectivity
4G & Wi-Fi
Vehicle Status (Proton Link app)
Remote Control (Proton Link app)
No. of Speakers 6
USB Ports Front: 3
2nd Row: 2
3rd Row: 2
Wireless Charger
Safety
SRS Airbags
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)
Brake Assist (BA)
Auto Brake Hold
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Traction Control System (TCS)
Hill Hold Assist (HHA)
Hill Descent Control (HDC)
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Rear Collision Warning (RCW)
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go
Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
Lane Centering Control (LCC)
Emergency Lane Keep Assist (ELKA)
Traffic Sign Information (TSI)
Lane Change Assist (LCA)
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
Door Opening Warning (DOW)
Intelligent High Beam Control (IHBC)
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Auto Park Assist (APA)
360 Camera with 3D Display
Reverse Camera
Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Front Parking Sensors 2 2 4 4
Rear Parking Sensors 4 4 4 4
Immobilizer and Anti-Theft Alarm

Fuel Consumption

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Proton X90 Review – When I first receive the car

We drove the Proton X90 Premium for exactly a week, accumulating a mileage of 263km according to the odometer. We also used up 29.8 litres of fuel, which translates to a fuel consumption figure of about 8.83km/l (11.33l/100km). The drive consists of about 65% city drive and 35% highway, with me being mostly on Comfort Drive Mode while Eco and Sport are used sparingly. It’s also worth noting that a couple of days after I received the car, a notification popped up which stated that maintenance is overdue.

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Proton X90 Review – Just before returning the car

This is far from the official claim of 6.8l/100km (14.7km/l), especially given that it’s a mild hybrid but keep in mind that I wasn’t driving economically. As I needed to test this car, there were times where I intentionally drove faster than I normally would. Furthermore, the fact that I drove mostly within the city instead of the highway also drove the figures up. With that being said, I’m certain that the mild hybrid system is here to mostly to aid its drivability rather than focusing purely on fuel efficiency, but I’ll explain more on that in a later section.

The key takeaway here is that it can be a gas guzzler, and don’t expect great fuel efficiency just because it’s a hybrid. It still ultimately boils down to your driving style, but reaching figures similar to the official claims will be quite difficult.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review by clicking right here.

The Good

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Proton X90 Review – Boot space in 7-seater configuration

Proton X90 Review - Boot space in 7-seater configuration

Proton X90 Review – Boot space in 5-seater configuration

There are a number of good reasons to consider getting the Proton X90. For starters, it’s a very spacious car as it’s a D-Segment SUV. Measuring in at about 483cm long, 176.4cm tall, and 190cm wide, you can easily fit in 7 people without it feeling super cramped. With that being said, taller people should avoid the 3rd row but every other seat will be very comfortable with more than adequate legroom and headroom. You can even convert this 7-seater configuration into a 5-seater configuration, thus bringing the boot space from a measly 257L to a whopping 1200L.

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Proton X90 Review – Nappa Leather, soft-touch plastics, and some hard plastics

The interior certainly has a premium, modern feel to it, especially given the Nappa Leather material on the steering wheel and seats. You also get leather on the electronic shifter, car door, and the dashboard as well, with the latter two having contrasting stitches for a better look. The top part of the dashboard uses soft-touch plastic, though the one right in front of the driver is just plain hard plastic. Apart from that, you get a full LCD meter along with a rather large infotainment system running on ACO Tech’s Atlas OS, which feels very snappy and responsive to use.

One of the best things about the infotainment system here is voice commands, beginning with “Hi Proton”. You can initiate a bunch of commands like turning up / down the windows, adjust air conditioner settings, set course in its own native navigation app and more. With that being said, it does have trouble discerning your voice at times, while other times it feels like it only listens partially before executing an action, typically resulting in an unintended one being executed. The key here is to speak clearly and not hesitate, something I did in the video above which caused a bit of a headache. There’s room for improvements and if you’re not happy with it, manual controls are still available.

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Proton X90 Review – Ceiling mounted air cond vents for the rear

Speaking of manual controls, it’s also great that you get full physical controls for the air conditioner, which is reflected and can also be controlled on the infotainment system. Speaking of the air conditioner, this one is a proper dual-zone type, so if your passenger on the opposite side prefers a different temperature, that can be done. I also like the fact that the rear air conditioners have the vents on the ceiling rather than where the back of the armrest is located, as it’s generally more efficient in keeping the interior cooled down while the latter location tends to get blocked by the passengers’ knees.

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Proton X90 Review – USB ports in the middle row

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Proton X90 Review – USB port and a place for a phone in the 3rd row

There are also plenty of USB ports throughout the car; 3 in the front, 2 in the 2nd row, and another two in the 3rd row. Furthermore, there is a wireless charging pad right below the air conditioner’s physical controls, so you have plenty of ways to keep your devices juiced up. Just limit those devices to smartphones and tablets as it doesn’t have enough power to charge laptops, even the ones that uses USB-C charging.

Driving the Proton X90 is pretty comfortable. For starters, it’s a tall car with high ground clearance, making it easy to see what on the road and generally gives better road and spatial awareness. It also feels firmly planted to the ground with no odd shakiness unless you make a sharp turn at high speeds, which is something you shouldn’t do in most cars anyway. The NVH is good, though I would argue that the X70 is better in this regards. Sure, it’s generally on the quieter side but you can definitely hear more wind, tire and engine noise compared to the X70, especially if you drive past 100km/h. With that being said, it’s still more than acceptable, though you might be expecting better given that this is Proton’s flagship SUV.

For the most part, the steering wheel can feel rather light, which I didn’t really enjoy at first but knowing that it gets heavier in Sport Mode makes it ideal. When you’re driving in the city, you’d definitely appreciate the lighter feel but when you’re on highway and want to go fast, the heavier feel would give that added boost of confidence. This, together with the higher driving perspective, makes it feel like you’re driving something smaller than the car’s actual size suggests so driving in the city would be pretty easy.

Some of you may disagree with me on the latter when it comes to one specific area; parking. Parking, as well as maneuvering through the road, is made pretty easy thanks to its 360 camera as you get a clear view of your surroundings. If you’re used to driving smaller cars, it won’t take long to get accustomed to this as both the camera and its respective sensors make it pretty hard to screw up. If that is still too hard, there is an auto parking feature on this and the Flagship variant, where all you need to do is press the park button near the Drive Mode dial, select an empty space on the infotainment system and let the car do all the hard work. It can be slow in narrower spaces but it works perfectly fine from my own experience.

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Proton X90 Review – Shifter, Drive Mode dial, parking buttons, and cupholders

I also enjoy the electronic nature of driving this SUV. What I mean is the shifter, Drive Mode dial, and the parking brake. It looks great and it’s so easy to use. You basically have to push it up or down twice to engage in D or R as merely pressing it once puts it into N. There is no P gear here as it’s simply a button below the shifter and the parking brake is another button beside the Drive Mode dial, simplifying the whole driving experience and giving you more space on the panel as it doesn’t need a manual handbrake.

Lastly, you get a complete suite of safety and security features that are very important in this day and age. From the standard ABS with EBD, ESC and TCS to the more modern safety features like Lane Departure Prevention and Forward Collision Warning, you are practically being babysat while driving this car. Furthermore, there are monitoring systems dedicated to tyre pressure and maintenance, where the car will inform you when it’s time to deal with those. It really takes out a whole lot of brainwork with driving, and all you need is just the basic driving skills to make full use of this car.

It’s worth noting that the DVR is exclusively included in the Flagship variant, but you can always purchase a 3rd party option and you might even get one as a free gift when purchasing the Standard, Executive, and Premium variants.

The Bad

Proton X90 Review - Mild Hybrid, Mild Results

Proton X90 Review – Infotainment system

Of course, the Proton X90 has its share of drawbacks. For starters, it doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The most you can do is either screen mirroring via QDLink, which can look awkward given the display’s dimensions, or connect to the infotainment unit via Bluetooth for music and rely on AtlasOS for everything else like navigation. With that being said however, this will not be a problem forever as Proton is working with ACO Tech to bring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to this car (as well as the Proton S70) sometime this year.

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Proton X90 Review – Driver’s seat

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Proton X90 Review – Middle row

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Proton X90 Review – 3rd row

While this SUV is geared more towards comfort, the seats themselves could be better. There is a clear lack of a thigh support on all seats, making long journeys a little painful to bear without the occasional stop. Furthermore, the driver’s seat is a little cramped compared to the other seats (sans the 3rd row) even with the seat pushed all the way back. Adjusting the seat to a taller driving position further reduces the legroom. However, I am 186cm tall with long legs so those who are below 180cm and with shorter legs should find this more comfortable than I do.

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Proton X90 Review – I tend to store cards and my wallet in these cupholders

The interior does have quite a bit of storage compartments, especially below the gear panel, but I wished there was more space to put smaller items like keys, cards, gadgets, and more. Most of the time, I end up placing items on the wireless charging pad but if anyone needs to use that, then I’d need to place it below the gear panel, which isn’t convenient to access especially while driving. No matter which variant you go for, I recommend purchasing a storage box that fits in the gaps of the seat to alleviate this issue.

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Proton X90 Review – Electronic shifter

Speaking of the gear panel, there is one thing that I don’t like about the shifter, and that is not the double tap nature of it (which I’m aware many are complaining about) but rather the manual mode. While most manual modes would have an up and down motion to shift, this one uses left and right motions. It feels bizarre and counterintuitive to standard conventions. Sure, you can get used to it but it’s still awkward to use and I’m sure most people would just not use it at the end of the day.

While the Proton X90 itself is not inherently underpowered, it can feel like it’s lacking some oomph when accelerating. There is a lag of about 2 to 3 seconds when you press down the pedal before the car starts to speed up. This can be felt in Eco and Comfort mode, while Sport mode cuts down that delay to about 1-2 seconds. It’s still better than Proton X70 in this regard, and I believe that’s because of the 48V electric motors. It doesn’t outright “fix” the acceleration lag, but it is a noticeable difference between the two SUVs.

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Proton X90 Review – LCD meters and infotainment displays

While I’m a fan of the LCD meters and the infotainment system, there is one glaring issue with both and that is the glare. Depending on how bright it is out there, as well as the angle of the sunlight, you will find times where you will have trouble seeing either or both. It’s not particularly bad for the meters as it does have some shade to aid in its visibility but it can still happen. I’m hoping future models will implement some form of anti-reflective coating to improve this but for now, purchasing a 3rd party visor for the infotainment system should help in most cases.

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Proton X90 Review – Native navigation app is slow

Speaking of the infotainment system, while I do like how it looks and feels, the native navigation app is too slow for my liking. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like the routes it suggests are not the best. With Waze and Google Maps, you’re ready to start within seconds but with this native app, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes before you can start driving regardless of whether signal reception is good or not. Hopefully it improves over time if Proton / ACO Tech wants people to rely more on this but with better options around and available freely, it’s hard to be patient about this.

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Proton X90 Review – Side view

Lastly, the Proton X90 is a pricey car. Sure, a car with similar specifications and dimensions from other brands might be pricier, but it doesn’t automatically make this affordable by any means. If we compare it to its respective variants, the price of a Proton X90 could get you a Proton X50 and a Proton Saga or an X70 with some spare change. If you’re in the market for a large SUV, then that’s fine but if you’re just trying to get the most out of  your money or simply need a car to go from point A to point B, this will be a tough sell. That doesn’t change the fact that you do get a lot for what you’re paying at the end of the day.

Though the Executive variant is pretty attractive in terms of pricing for what you get, you should at least consider the Premium variant unless you’re truly okay with the features you’ll be missing out on. We’ve listed the prices for each variant right below here:

Proton X90 Standard Executive Premium Flagship
Peninsular Malaysia RM123,800 RM130,800 RM144,800 RM152,800
East Malaysia RM125,800 RM132,800 RM146,800 RM154,800
Labuan RM117,800 RM124,700 RM138,400 RM146,300
Langkawi RM116,100 RM123,000 RM136,700 RM144,600

Proton X90 Verdict

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Proton X90 Review – Rear

The Proton X90 is a good family car, though I would say it would be even more attractive when Apple CarPlay / Android Auto support finally arrives. It’s also somewhat misunderstood given its mild hybrid status, with a number of people believing it’s very fuel efficient just because of it. I’d rather see it as it could be much worse without the mild hybrid system. If you have a big family or a decent sized one but plan on carrying a lot of luggage around often, this will serve you well. Just be sure to set the right expectations first.

At the end of our Proton X90 review, I award this mild hybrid car with our Bronze Pokdeward.

Pokde-Bronze

Big thanks to Proton for lending us this car for the purpose of this review

About The Author
Aiman Maulana
Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. YouTuber, video editor, tech head, and a wizard of gaming. What's up? :)