If life is a highway … we want to be driving the all new Proton X70

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It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

Does that still stand if the destination is a first class, luxurious, been-dying-to-visit spot? To be honest, we didn’t think so. But then we jumped into the Proton X70 and my heaven … we could have driven for days!

Massive, comfy, soft Nappa leather power seats, which went waaaay back for passengers needing a snooze (those early morning departures are a bugger). Loads and loads of leg room and space for coolers and coffee and padkos (we’re all for too-many-snacks on any journey). A really impressive, six speaker sound system for the 70s Road Tripping play list. Add the voice command (“Hi Proton – roll down the windows”) and touch screen monitor infotainment system which has smart phone and Bluetooth connectivity, and USB ports … so all those necessary boxes firmly ticked.

Our route included freeway (so a chance to open up and feel the power, and to test the cruise control), detours through rural towns with pothole-strewn roads (and here we use the word roads in the loosest possible way) as well as a short stretch of gravel and dust … so we could really experience the car every which way. Add to that drizzle and downpours (hello auto-sensing wipers) followed by the sweltering heat and dust of the Kruger area (so a massive welcome to the Proton Intelligent Air Purification System – a combination of N95 cabin filter which is incorporated into the air-conditioning, and air purifier system … combined these work twice as efficiently to improve the air quality inside the cabin).

A big plus on a long trip is the excellent fuel consumption – 7.8l per 100km in the Proton X70 (and 6.5l in the smaller Proton X50) … certainly a lot more impressive than some of the other SUVs on the market. In fact, affordability was a major influence in the decision by Combined Motor Holdings and Geely when bringing Proton back into the country from Malaysia. With so many luxury brands launching SUVs, there was a massive gap, they felt, for a quality SUV within an affordable price bracket.

Another long-distance journey plus is the five-year roadside assistance which comes standard – as, by the way, does the five-year, unlimited mileage (yay to many long road trips) and transferrable warranty, the five year/80 000 km service plan and the five-star ratings in financial packages … so bit of a high-five all round, here, too.

Talking the safety of knowing road-side assistance is just a call away, other safety and security benefits are the six airbags and the advanced driver assist system, which includes blind spot info, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning (jolly helpful when the driver ahead of you suddenly reduces speed).

Add to that the traction control, hill hold assist and hill descent control, electronic and anti-lock braking systems with brake assist and auto brake hold. There are also daytime running lamps, which means greater visibility in all weather conditions.

We’re not, we admit, the best reverse-parkers in the forecourt, so the 360 degree camera and parking sensors were a jolly useful addition for us (and no doubt for others in the area!). Stops at padstals along the way drew loads of envious glances from fellow travellers … and stepping back to admire our ride, we knew why. From the chrome finishing on the front and rear bumpers to the rear diffuser with dual exhaust outlets to the alloy wheels to the power tailgate with foot sensor (oh my, how we loved that … bought extra goodies just so we had an excuse to open (and fill) the enormously spacious boot).

The Proton comes in six rather dashing colour choices – Snow White and Armour Silver, a dark and dashing Jet Gray and look-at-me Ruby Red, Space Grey and our favourite Cinnamon Brown.

There are, obviously, kilometer-long technical specifications … none of which mean a single to thing to us (we’re all for the ride, not the deets) … so best you download the Digital Brochure on proton.cars, navigate your way around that, and then once you’re revved up, it’s all ready, steady, go and book a test drive.

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