I Went Solo In-Car Camping With The New Proton X90 Flagship

Only on would you know how is it like to spend the night in the new Proton X90. 

Likely ever since the pandemic, the idea of in-car camping has seemingly exploded in popularity. Right on YouTube after all are a literal ton of videos depicting vloggers who willingly spend the night in their cars, with even some of the more popular ones raking in millions of views. 

And perhaps rather unsurprisingly given my knowledge of this particular automotive subculture too, I do have to admit here that I am indeed quite partial to these rather calming ASMR-esque videos. So much so in fact that, as you probably already deduce from the title, when it came to time to test the new Proton X90, instead of just doing a regular review that has been done to death already or join the bajillion other videos showcasing its numerous tech gimmicks, the rather crazy thought popped into my head to why not take advantage of this behemoth’s size to finally go and live out my in-car camping fantasies?

Now before anyone accuses me of using my privileged position to satiate my impulsive desires too, there actually is a bit more method to this mad idea here. That is as the X90 was after all promoted by Proton in one of their ads with the tagline ‘bigger adventures begin’, with this large SUV incidentally being set right next to a full-on camping setup one at its Centre of Excellence to boot. 

So it really was as if Proton was begging for someone to actually go and try this out, and it so happens that I was more than happy to oblige!

In-Car Camp Prep

Just to also show that anyone can do this — and totally not because I was unwilling to spend any money in doing something that will likely be for the first and last time — all the kit I have prepared for this activity were essentially stuff that I scrounged up from home. So please do forgive the slightly rudimentary home-style camping setup that lacks the fancy coffee machine and bulky auxiliary power source which typically feature in the more professional in-car camping vlogs, or even (rather stupidly) a portable fan or camp lamp for that matter… 

With the X90 being front wheel drive as well (and this being test car too), the camping spot chosen was also unfortunately less than picturesque. Certainly more roadside parking on a quiet hilltop in PJ if you would than within the dense wilderness of Taman Negara, just to minimise the chances of having to make a rather embarrassing phone call to Proton for recovery assistance.

But glossing over the lack of proper kit and the conspicuous absence of exterior shots of the X90 in its camp mode (because I am quite happy staying within the confines of the car when alone after dark in the great outdoors, thank you very much), I did actually manage to spend quite a comfortable night with this large SUV as my mobile home from home, as shall be elaborated just below.  

Getting Comfortable 

And diving right in, how exactly does one transform an X90 into a mobile home from home? Well, the hardest part of setting up camp was actually just piloting this barge up to the aforementioned hilltop and eventually (carefully) manoeuvring it into a nice and secluded spot.

That is as once parked up, converting the X90 into a rudimentary living room basically involved using the front passenger seat’s chauffeur controls to push it all the way forward for extra leg room, then moving oneself behind into the left captain’s chair before manually reclining that to a comfortable position.

The captain’s chair in the Proton X90 Flagship’s middle row was reasonably well stuffed and can recline a fair bit to get properly into the lounging life. It is a bit short in the leg however for a lanky six-footer like myself, though artful positioning the sleeping bag I had brought along made for a reasonable makeshift ottoman. 

Now of course with the engine switched off when parked up, the ventilated seat function was unfortunately (but entirely expectedly) not available to me during the duration of my camp. Though rather handily, the X90’s large panoramic sunroof did do a decent enough job of venting the hot cabin air out into the cooler night sky with it being cracked open just a tad.

If, unlike me who went camping in the middle of central KL during the rainy season too, there may actually be a good chance to have added a rather nice starry-skied ceiling-scape to this living room. I was nevertheless rather content however with just having my phone charged and music playing through the in-car speakers, when the X90’s ignition was left on that is. 

It has to be said too that having a central walkthrough between the middle pair of seats (in this Flagship variant) also made it fantastically easy just reach around to the rear row where I stored my stuff, without having to reaching over too hard from where I was lounging. The lack of interior lights on the third row however did make finding anything back there a bit of a pain, but that was easily remedied by swivelling the USB light I brought along.

Food, Beverage & Entertainment 

Now moving on from the living room to the dining room, there was a slight problem with the X90 when it comes to the comfortable consumption of food and beverages. And that is because in spite of the captain’s chairs in this Flagship trim, there was unfortunately no folding table or even cupholders accompanying it in the middle row. 

So to any X90 Flagship owner who wishes to go camping in their cars then, one of those small tables on an arm is perhaps worth getting from your preferred online shopping site. Or you’d end up like me in having to use the front central armrest as a rather inconvenient cup noodle preparation surface and dining table, then as a far-out laptop stand for the post-supper movie. 

Night Night…

Another issue with going camping too in the Flagship variant arose in the early hours of the morning, when sleep was eventually on the agenda. That is as while the captain chairs were rather comfortable for lounging about in, I really didn’t feel like sleeping in what amounts to a premium economy seat on an airline, especially since it did not also really recline enough to actually form a comfortable sleeping position. 

Rather predictably too, the presence of said sculpted captains chairs did mean for there to not be the possibility of creating a flat enough floor to make a rudimentary sleeping surface for a six-footer to sleep straight in spite of this rather long vehicle. 

Just out of curiosity (or more perhaps exasperation though after failing to properly nap on the chair for a bit), I eventually decided to try and fold the rear-most row of seats down anyway to at least gauge for myself if there really is not enough space. And really to my genuine surprise, with the rear-most row folded down, there was indeed sufficient room for a lanky person to sleep in a foetal position at least. Adding a decent pillow and a relatively poofy sleeping bag to that, and it is really not the worst place to catch a few zzzs for the night. 

While there is also genuine complaints to be had in the noticeable decrease in interior quality with the third row side trays being of a cheap and nasty plastic, it is nevertheless a big enough for glasses and has a cupholder that can hold the required morning coffee. The twin USB-A ports at the rear most row will be useful for a fan (or two) too, if I had thought to bring one. Though of course, it is perhaps best to turn the car completely off while catching a few zzzs and use an external battery pack for said ventilation devices, less the battery goes flat and a call to a mechanic is really required…

Final Remarks

And that just about sums up my observations from spending the night living out of the X90. No one after all really needs to know how I relieved myself (I just drove to the nearest petrol station), or how beautiful the sunrise is over the KL skyline too (because I also missed that from driving home before dawn to beat the traffic). 

But what is nevertheless worth knowing is what this X90 really is like as a car, instead of a rather fancy tent. And wouldn’t you know it there’s also an accompanying full review of this large Proton SUV linked right here too, which you can read right now if you would be so inclined. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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