By now, you should have already seen the numerous videos posted by various publications, where the Proton X50 was pitted against a BMW X1 and a Honda HR-V during the media preview event at Sepang International Circuit on Wednesday.

If so, you’ve also probably seen or heard someone yapping on about how the Proton X50 beat the BMW X1 hands down in a drag race. While it’s true that the new X50 was indeed faster than the BMW X1 in this instance, we felt that some clarification is needed, as it really isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

First up, it’s the format. Unlike a drag race in the traditional sense, the three cars during the event were not exactly pitted against each other, per se. Instead, we were asked to pay attention to the 0-100 km/h times, as shown on the timing equipment placed in each of these cars. So realistically, the cars didn’t even need to be beside one another, other than for the “wow” factor.

There are several advantages in doing it this way, but it removes the human aspect in the comparison – poor reaction time to the lights (or in this case, voice) will not result in any particular car losing out in the contest, as each car is evaluated individually.

Secondly, there’s also the choice in vehicles. For one, the Proton X50 used in this comparison was the range-topping Flagship variant, packing the 1.5 TGDi engine which makes 177 hp and 255 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the BMW X1 chosen for the test was the sDrive18i variant, which only packs 140 hp and 220 Nm on a very similar 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder mill.

But nevermind the power output – because the weight of the vehicles itself can tell you the whole story. Unladen, the BMW X1 weighs 1,505 kg, which is actually quite significant for a compact SUV.

As for the Proton X50, while the company has not released its complete specifications yet, looking at its foreign cousins from China (Bin Yue) and Philippines (Coolray) will tell you that it should weigh around the 1,340 kg mark – more than 100 kg lighter than the German rival.

Looking back at our tests on the day – which you can see in full in our video – the Proton X50 Flagship ranked first with a 0-100 km/h time of 10.22 seconds, followed by the BMW X1 sDrive18i at 11.10 seconds, and last but not least the Honda HR-V 1.8L V at 11.88 seconds. Interestingly, even when coming in first in the shootout, the Proton X50 Flagship’s times were still miles away from the 7.9 seconds claimed on paper.

It’s no surprise that the Proton X50 Flagship would rank first in the 0 to 100 km/h test even when just based solely on its weight and engine output figures on paper – otherwise, why would Proton even arrange such a “performance” in a media preview event? The story could be very different if the sDrive20i variant was chosen for this test, not to mention the Honda HR-V 1.5L Hybrid.

Credit where it’s due though, it is commendable that Proton is now taking the initiative to challenge these brands that were once thought to be untouchable by our measly local carmakers – even if it’s the cheapest BMW available in Malaysia. Does anyone remember the promise of “Asia’s answer to BMW”? Well, our dreams might actually come true now.


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Woon
Believes that a car is more than just numbers and facts, it's about the emotions they convey. Any car can be the right car for someone, but he'll probably pick a hot hatch over anything else.