Pros and Cons: Proton Exora Premium – Wait, why are you still on sale?

CY Foong · Sep 08, 2020 12:30 AM

Back in 2009, when the MPV craze hit Malaysia, Proton and Perodua both added a 7-seater MPV into their line-up. Here we are in 2020 and both the Proton Exora and Perodua Alza are still on sale.

Interestingly, both models were given an update in 2019 and there seem to be no signs of replacement for the Perodua Alza. This time, let's focus on what is seen as the best value-for-money C-segment MPV, the Exora. We'll talk about the Alza some other time.

Another 10-year-old relic that's still on sale

Throughout the 11 years on sale, the Exora has been given numerous updates with the 2019 update adding the "Hi Proton" voice command and some minor exterior changes. The question here is, does all that minor nip and tuck still make it relevant in 2020?

Pros – Practical and spacious

When it was launched in 2009, the Exora was very large compared to rivals at the time like the Nissan Grand Livina and the Toyota Avanza. It’s a trait that remains unchanged in 2020. The cabin is spacious and you get plenty of headroom and legroom in the cabin.

There are also plenty of cubby holes and storage space in the Exora. I’ve counted 10 cupholders in it! There are even a couple of cupholders in the third-row. There’s also a ‘teh-tarik’ hook at the front and when this car was launched back in 2009, it was a godsend.

Boot space in the Exora is very generous and with the third-row seats fold flat, there's enough room to fill up your flat pack Swedish-branded furniture and a stroller or two.

The third-row is not meant for normal-sized adults, especially on long journeys. However, both rear rows do get their own overhead AC blower so passengers don’t have to fight who gets the cold air.

Speaking of cold air, the Exora’s AC unit is as usual, great like every Proton car since 1985. Even the ride and handling are surprisingly not bad for an MPV of this size. Around the bends, the Exora feels planted with body roll almost minimal.

Cons – Outdated and thirsty

While the ride and handling are good for its class, the steering is quite heavy, something that we explained in our Deal Breaker article. It feels like you’re driving a truck, with a comically small steering wheel attached.

It averages 11.9 km/l in this picture but that number quickly goes down

It even drinks like a large truck. The fuel economy of the Exora is atrocious, with an average of 9.7 km/l recorded when I kept it for the weekend. Just to put in perspective, I filled up RM 50 of petrol before heading down to Melaka from KL only to see all of it almost used up after arriving in Melaka.

The heavy weight together with the turbocharged 1.6-litre CamPro CFE produce such poor fuel consumption figures and while we’re at the engine, let’s talk a bit on the turbocharged CamPro engine.

When the Exora was first launched, it was powered by a 1.6-litre CamPro CPS that also powered the Satria Neo and Waja. That early generation of the Exora turned out to be very underpowered so a turbo was fitted on to the engine to create the CamPro CFE which gave the Exora a much-needed boost.

Of course, that boost comes at the expense of poor fuel economy and a noisy cabin. Refinement is definitely not a strong suit for the Exora.

Roof light taken from a Waja, pop-up locks, square air vents, this sure looks like a car from the 2000s

Then, there’s the fact that everything in the Exora is dated. Sitting inside feels like you’ve stepped back to 2005, not even 2009. The plastic quality feels poor and even though it has a clearer instrumental gauge cluster and an infotainment system with “Hi Proton” voice command, everything else feels as old as The Killers’ Mr Brightside.

As practical as the Exora is, up front, the compartments are placed too low. You do get 4 cupholders at the front but unless you have a pretty large bottle or cup, they’re a stretch to reach. There are 2 USB ports but again, they’re also placed low at the front, not exactly family-friendly with none at the back.

Even on the safety front, the Exora reminds you of a time when AEB was only seen in high-end luxury cars by offering only 2 front airbags. Although ESC was added in the Exora Bold update back in 2015, it’s still pretty sparse in safety. There’s no ISOFIX either.

Conclusion

The Exora is a car I would have a hard time recommending. It might be practical and affordably priced – the top-of-the-range Premium starts at RM 66,800, but it’s thirsty, lacks in safety features, and noisy. Plus, it’s not exactly family-friendly too with only a 12v cigarette socket and a couple of USB ports, all at the front.

Had this updated version been launched in 2009 instead of 2019, the Proton Exora might’ve been a good car. But there’s no denying it’s an old MPV in an age where even MPVs are being ignored for crossovers like the Perodua Aruz and the Honda BR-V.

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