Design Check: Proton X90 vs Geely Okavango

Yes, you read that headline correctly just now. Proton has just previewed the 2023 X90 in Malaysia, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. After making its Philippine debut in late 2020 (billed as a 2021 model year), it has made its way to one of our closest Southeast Asian neighbors.

While Proton has yet to actually launch it to the public, the automaker has officially released photos and initial details about the new three-row vehicle for Malaysia. So what makes it different from the Geely Okavango apart from having a name change?

The X90 gets some neat design changes over the Okavango. The X90 sports a completely unique grille that’s adorned with several pins finished in chrome. It also features what Proton calls the “Ethereal Bow” which is part of the vehicle’s fancy grille surround. Carried over from the regular Okavango, however, are the LED headlights including the eye-catching L-shaped daytime running lights.

2023 Proton X90 is the Okavango’s Malaysian twin image

While the front fascia looks sleek and unique, the rear of the X90 is a bit more conservative. Whereas Proton was busy giving the X90 its own identity upfront. The rear of the X90 looks just like the Okavango. Sure, it might get some subtle changes here and there, but for the most part, the only noticeable difference is the use of a different font in order to spell out “P R O T O N” rather than “G E E L Y” at the back.

Hop inside and the interior of the X90 is essentially a carbon copy of the Okavango’s dashboard albeit the steering is on the right side. Not that it’s a bad thing of course since the vehicle’s cabin looks quite dashing whether it’s wearing a Proton or Geely badge. Like what the Philippines get, the X90 for Malaysia gets a digital instrument cluster, a wide touchscreen infotainment system, a distinct center console, and a wide array of buttons and features. Perhaps the only difference we saw on the console is a different gear selector.

2023 Proton X90 is the Okavango’s Malaysian twin image

But while Okavango is strictly a 7-seater in our market, the Malaysian version is available as a 6-seater. Instead of having a bench on the second row, Proton can swap that out for a pair of captain seats. Not only do they have adjustable armrests, but they can also be manually slid forward or aft, and comes with a recline function for added comfort.

Other available features present inside the all-new X90 include a massive panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera, optional brown leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control with rear vents, power-adjustable front seats, charging ports for all rows of seats, and a smart tailgate. Unfortunately, just like the PH-spec Okavango, the infotainment system on the X90 lack Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2023 Proton X90 is the Okavango’s Malaysian twin image

Under the hood, the Proton X90 gets the same powertrain as the Okavango. That means a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that’s helped along by a 48V EMS mild-hybrid system. It makes 190 PS with 300 Nm of torque and is coupled to a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

So the X90 for Malaysia looks like an upscaled version of the Okavango in terms of looks, interior amenities, and features. But the Proton version does get an ace up its sleeve - a full suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS. It gets adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, blind-spot monitoring, front collision warning, rear-cross traffic alert, and traffic sign recognition.

2023 Proton X90 is the Okavango’s Malaysian twin image

With Malaysia set to get its hands on the X90, it will be the latest market in ASEAN to experience the Okavango. As for us, perhaps we might eventually get the 2023 facelift which we first saw Geely reveal late last year. Do you think the Proton version looks better or does the current Okavango in the Philippines still the fairer-looking one? Let us know what you think in the comments.