Geely has been awarded the “China Automotive Industry Science and Technology Award” by China’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE-China), the entity’s highest honour, for the development of the 1.5-litre turbocharged three cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission powertrain combo – also used in the Proton X50 Flagship.

SAE-China is the country’s most prestigious non-governmental professional association for scientists, academics, engineers, and technicians working in the world’s largest and most competitive automotive market. According to Proton, winning the award is equivalent to winning a Nobel Prize for the industry.

Each year, automotive industry peers in SAE-China nominate and award achievements and innovations that have “advanced and influenced the automotive industry”. In 2020, Geely’s 1.5TD + 7DCT powertrain was selected for the award among 170 other innovations developed by top Chinese Universities, science academies, and global automotive R&D centres.

According to the press release, the powertrain combo was selected for the award for its strides in three major challenges faced by the industry – developing a highly versatile compact engine, balancing performance with fuel efficiency, and increasing the utilization and reliability of hybrid power.

A product of a RMB20 billion (RM13 billion) R&D investment by Geely over the last 10 years, the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder powertrain developed by China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) – a joint venture of sorts between Geely and Volvo – is designed to be highly versatile, and offer sufficient performance for a wide range of vehicle segments.

The 1.5TGDi configuration used on the Proton X50 is the engine’s peak standalone output, capable of generating 177 hp and 255 Nm of torque, which translates to a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 7.9 seconds under ideal conditions. The port fuel injected variant, good for 150 hp and 226 Nm, also made its global debut on the Proton X50.

The modular engine is also designed from the onset with electrification in mind, and have already been integrated into four different electrified configurations – 48V mild hybrid, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrids, and range-extender EVs. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox used in the Proton X50 as well as the X70 also boasts an industry leading 97.2% transmission efficiency with a torque ceiling of 450 Nm, and can shift gears near instantaneously in 0.2 seconds.

Three-cylinder engines are commonly associated with stigma surrounding its NVH trade-off due to the unbalanced forces in the engine. To combat the NVH drawbacks, the engine is equipped with over 120 parts specifically engineered to improve NVH performance, reducing perceivable engine jitter and noise.

At idle, Geely says that engine noise inside vehicle cabins can reach as low as 38db – we did not have any scientific instrument on board to measure, but we can certainly concur that it was almost imperceptible!

In just over two years, more than 600,000 vehicles under the Geely Group banner have already equipped with the powertrain combo, and can be found in multiple models in various segments such as the Geely Coolray/Bin Yue, Volvo XC40, all Lynk & Co models, the LEVC TXe, and of course not forgetting the hottest car in our country, the Proton X50.

The powertrain has been deployed to over 11 countries including Sweden, UK, Russia, Malaysia, and Philippines, a testament to its reliability and versatility in different climates. Geely plans to increase that number to 27 countries by 2021.