Proton has cleverly extended its model range with the launch of the all-new seven-seat Exora crossover. Modern looks, undoubtedly practical and handily priced, the Exora ushers-in a period of considerable new model introduction for the Malaysian brand, thesedays owned by the massive DRB-HICOM conglomerate.
Until now best-known for the hard-working Jumbuk and sporty hatchbacks (and its technical tie-up with Lotus sports cars), Proton needs the Exora to provide extra showroom traffic and, by any measure, the newcomer stacks-up well against rival seven-seaters.
Proton Exora Overview
Proton has launched the seven-seat Exora in two model grades – entry-level GX $25,990 (drive-away) and up-spec GXR ($27,990). Both have a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and – impressively – a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
As usual with Proton, the Lotus-tweaked suspension provides a measurable point of difference against rivals – this thing is very slick and refined in the twisty stuff.
And we give a high score for the styling. Inside and out, Proton has delivered a good-looking seven-seater which must be included on the shopping list of those seeking a budget-priced mini people-mover.
Proton Exora Engine
Proton Exora runs Proton’s own ‘Campro’ turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. Unlike other members of the Campro family, the Exora’s version has a shorter stroke (for a displacement of 1.561-litres), a compression ratio lowered to 8.9:1 and variable valve timing (intake only).
Maximum power is 103kW at 5000rpm and peak torque of 205Nm is delivered in the range of 2000-4000rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.2l/100kms (combined cycle).
Drive is to the front wheels via a CVT automatic transmission.
Proton Exora The Interior
Proton’s interior designers have equipped the Exora very well – a modern look, lost of space and high marks for practicality. For example, the second-row seat has a recline function (some more expensive rivals don’t) and a 60/40 split fold, while the third row affords 50/50 split-folding for load-carrying versatility.
The dashboard is a conventional layout with nice quality materials and modern instruments. We would have liked a reach function for the steering wheel (height adjustable only) but otherwise the Proton Exora offers no cause for complaint.
And here’s a plus for family buyers – both Proton Exora models come standard with a roof-mounted DVD player. Amazing how movies keep youngsters entertained for hours on road trips.
Up-spec GXR gains leather seat trim (with stylish contrast stitching in the one we drove), front seat ‘captain chair’ arm-rests, silver trim highlights and third-row grab handles. Proton Exora GXR also benefits from a reversing camera (image displayed in the internal rear-vision mirror).
Proton Exora Exterior & Styling
“What’s this?” was the chorus from the assembled motoring journalists when Alastair Miller from Proton pulled-up outside our hotel in the Exora. With a unique modern, look the Exora takes Proton in a new styling direction from the Preve and Suprima S.
With a modern, wedge shape, the five-door Proton Exora announces its arrival with a low bonnet and contemporary triangular headlights.
The rear too is thoroughly modern and distinctive with LED tail-lights housed in the D-pillars.
Both models ride on 16-inch alloy wheels but the upscale GXR adds DRLs, a rear spoiler and some extra chrome.
Proton Exora On The Road
As we know, Proton has a technical association with Britain’s Lotus cars for suspension and chassis development and the Exora, like all Protons we’ve driven, displays high-standard dynamics. Exora runs a modern McPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear.
Those slick dynamics were on display at the media launch drive program which departed Sydney Airport for a run through peak-hour traffic and then onto the twisty roads through Cattai and Warragamba Dam. We sampled both GX and GXR models and were impressed by both.
Proton’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine is a willing worker which is quite refined even when pressed hard and its matching to the CVT automatic is impressively smooth (there’s no manual mode but a sportier setting does deliver sharper response when needed).
Ride was nice over some bumps and the Proton Exora provided nice balance when pressed hard.
Proton Exora Challenges
Handily priced, nicely equipped and pleasant on-road, there’s a lot to like about the Proton Exora. The disappointment is the lack of side curtain airbags, for the second and third row seats - but really the Exora isn’t alone in that regard as you’ll find other hot-selling seven-seaters are likewise.
Proton Exora Verdict
The point to remember about the Exora is the seven-seater represents the new dawn for Proton. New owner DRB-HICOM has deep pockets and wants Proton to be a globally recognised company proudly flying under the Malaysian national flag.
Here’s an example: while the Exora does not currently achieve a five-star ANCAP rating (mostly due to the lack of side airbags for the second and third row passengers), DRB-HICOM says all future Proton vehicles in all market segments will be five-star rated. This was a requirement for the Preve sedan and to get there meant a massive investment at the plant for stamping etc so DRB-HICOM just wrote a cheque.
We get that impression with the Exora. One day the boss said: “Seven-seat crossovers are doing good business and we don’t have one – fix that immediately.”
Boom! Seemingly from nowhere along comes the Proton Exora and really it lacks for nothing.
Proton Exora The Competition
Fiat Freemont with its 2.4-litre petrol engine and American luxury is a steal starting from $25,990(plus on roads). Freemont scores with families because of its luxury look/feel and abundant space.
Until Proton wheeled-out the Exora, Kia’s all-new Rondo was the freshest design in this league – to be honest, we still reckon it’s the best-looker of this lot. Excellent though the Rondo is, all of a sudden its $29,990 starting price is looking a bit exxy.
Nissan Dualis is about to be replaced with the all-new Qashqui model hitting Australia. Sticker prices for the current Dualis start at $25,990, but in runout mode, we bet you can do better at most Nissan dealers. We like the look of both the current Dualis and upcoming Qashqui, driving dynamics go close to best in this league and of course Nissan’s quality is top-shelf.