In a bid to plug its performance deficiency, Proton has given its mini-MPV a new turbo variant
Ever since the Proton Exora was launched in 2009, Malaysia's mini-MPV scored with good value, capable handling and ride balance and a reasonably capacious seven-seat package.
However, the Exora sorely lacked the performance from a meagre 125hp 1.6-litre petrol engine.
Today, Proton has added a new engine variant to choose from in the guise of a 138hp 1.6-litre petrol-turbo priced at 879,000 baht _ 90,000 baht more than the normal 1.6 in High Line trim.
More technical differences include a CVT automatic, all-round disc brakes, stiffer suspension and bigger 16-inch wheels _ all claimed by Proton to help cope with the increased amount of power and torque (see graphic).
Enhanced equipment includes electrically foldable side mirrors and leather-clad seats and steering wheel.
Fascia is nice to look at but not to touch; CVT automatic is new.
Since the Exora has reached mid-life, Proton has extended the aggressive-looking bumpers (as seen here) to other variants, as well.
You might note the 175,000 baht difference separating the new turbo version from 1.6 Medium Line. But the latter has far lesser safety and comfort-related features, so we'd recommend you measuring the High Line with the turbo (both have ABS and dual airbags).
The Exora is awfully slow in non-turbo 1.6 guise. So if you happen to be really concerned about proper performance, the turbo 1.6 is now the one to go for.
Anywhere within the legal limit, the turbocharged Exora moves around effortlessly at just the slight tap of the throttle. It's quite a big contrast against the regular 1.6.
Changes to the chassis are welcome too, for it effectively contains the increased amount of ponies.
The Exora still handles and ride better than in any of its rivals, be it the shoddy Toyota Avanza or the stodgy Honda Freed.
Below 900,000 baht, the Exora should be considered good value for money. It's decently sized for a seven-seater and genuinely capable on the move.
Despite a modified engine block, you can still sense the affinity between the turbo and non-turbo units. There's the same irritating engine fan drone, especially at low speeds, that sounds like a worn-out compressor.
While the suspension setting still proves to be comfortable, the secondary ride can be fidgety which is probably due to the bigger wheels shod with lower profiled tyres.
Lastly is the perceived quality of the Exora. The car may look good on the inside and outside, but the way the doors open and how the plastics feel when you touch them, it doesn't feel that the car has been made to last.
BUY OR BYE?
That Proton has decided to offer turbo power in the Exora is certainly commendable, for it has successfully plugged the performance deficiency.
Okay, the turbo engine is a tad thirstier than the regular 1.6. But the significant performance gain _ from the day you buy the Exora _ is certainly worth the 90,000 baht extra, apart from the enhanced amount of features.
In fact, Proton should seriously consider turbo technology (it has been outsourced, as well as the CVT 'box) for its other passenger car models. Ample performance does mean peace of mind during driving, so to speak.
Compared to the Avanza and Freed, the Exora excels by being more capable on the move, be it in performance or chassis terms.
A brand with a not-so-strong profile, the Exora scores well on another crucial front _ value for money.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor