The Proton Exora would have just been launched today; this story has been sitting in the sidelines, waiting for the 10.30pm embargo laid upon the press by Proton, but we had a preview last week, during which we had a chance to have a go at the Exora....
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The Proton Exora would have just been launched today; this story has been sitting in the sidelines, waiting for the 10.30pm embargo laid upon the press by Proton, but we had a preview last week, during which we had a chance to have a go at the Exora. It wasn’t a long drive, and we really cannot evaluate things like fuel consumption, durability, etc, etc, all the things that would be on our readers minds; it was a short drive, and these are my first impressions.
Considering that many manufacturers take around four or five years to develop a vehicle, the Exora is quite an achievement by Proton, it taking them just eighteen months to build from final drawings to full production; things were made a little easier through using an existing platform, modified accordingly to suit the new design dimensions, and building upwards from there. We were not told how long it took to do the initial drawings and the engineering checks etc, etc. Nevertheless, it is an achievement.
What we have in the Exora is the sum-total of everything that Proton has learnt in its three decades of building cars, and the result is quite impressive indeed. According to Proton, the Exora has been built from the very start with a view to exporting it, so the build quality and the specifications reflect this vision; an MPV that is built to appeal to an international market.
From the exterior point of view, the Proton Exora takes on the contemporary shape of the two most popular MPV’s of the region, and I figure they can’t have gone wrong by adopting the two-box concept, with the engine mounted transversely in front, driving the front wheels, a car-like driving position with a slightly raised waist line, a seven-seater configuration with three rows of seats, and a station wagon tail end. Looks, at all times, is very subjective, but few people will be able to find fault with the Exora’s basic outline and shape.
Inside, the build quality is much improved over the last model launched (that would be the Saga). There are still the plastic parts that go towards keeping weight down, and keeping costs down, but this time we can see efforts being made to texture the plastic parts somewhat, making them look less cheap. The Exora is built big, with a wheelbase of 2,730mm, an overall length of 4,592mm, an overall width of 1,809, and an overall height of 1,691mm. The nearest vehicle I can find to compare it to would be the Grand Livina, based on engine capacity and seating capacity, and the Exora dimensions top the Livina in all aspects.
With a view of making a car with international appeal, the Exora comes equipped with ABS, and EBD, and seat belts for all occupants. Much effort has been taken to keep weight down to a minimum, and the Exora tips the scales at 1422 kg, which roughly translates to a Waja with three adults seated in it. The next question you might have on your mind is how it moves about with a 1.6 litre engine.
The engine is the 1.6 litre CPS unit from the Gen2, with 125 horsepower at 6,000 rpm on tap, and 150Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. Mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox, and a 4.625 final drive, and fitted with 15-inch wheels, there is just enough power to pull the Exora along at a reasonable clip. Engine rpm at 100 km/h is around 3,000 rpm, which will give a good balance between outright pulling power and fuel economy.
With an automatic transmission, the take-off is actually quite good. A low enough first and second gear, coupled with the inherent transmission slip allows the Exora pretty good ‘get-up-and-go’ characteristics. However, it does take some time to build up the speed to the highway limit of 110 km/h. Flooring it helps, but you will have to remember to lift off or else the sensors will assume you want more power and keep you in third. Once you get to cruising speed, lifting off on the accelerator will cause the transmission to get into top gear (fourth), and you can stay there until you put your foot down again.
I thought a shorter 4th gear or another five or so percent shorter final drive would have improved the situation by not dropping into third so wantonly. If you are gentle on the throttle, it will cruise in top gear, but if you want to get anywhere in a hurry, stepping hard on the drive-by-wire throttle pedal will make the Exora step back into third gear, all the way up to 145 km/h and further, unless you lift off.
Ride is on the soft side, and passengers will feel quite comfortable in the Exora, thanks to well-designed seats, and plenty of legroom all round. I would have preferred a slightly firmer ride in the interests of better handling, but that is purely my opinion. As it is, the average driver would find the suspension very pliable, and find the Exora very nice to be in. What happens six months or a year down the road, as the shock absorbers wear down, and they do wear down, trust me, is anybody’s guess.
In terms of versatility, the Exora is on par with any of the best MPVs around. The seats split and fold to allow countless combinations, and an added bonus is that the rearmost seats do allow some reclining adjustments. All seats have belts, either three point or two point, and there is a long list of creature comfort accessories, including a DVD player. Leather seats are an option, and the buyer has a choice of three packages, all based on the automatic, at the moment.
The top model Exora will sell at RM76K, with the lower specification models cascading downwards. At the time of writing, the prices are not announced as yet, but by now, I am sure it would be out.
At the end of this very short test, I think that the Exora does provide a viable proposition for the Malaysian who wants an affordable MPV; nothing else comes near it for size versus price versus seating capacity.
Official On the road (OTR) price.
RM 69,998 M-Line
RM 75,998 H-Line