The Exora is Proton’s family car option launched in 2009 and currently the brand’s only MPV.
In its 10-year production, the MPV went through 3 updates that saw the addition of the turbocharged (but still port injection) engine (Exora Bold) in 2011 and a cosmetic update in 2017. The latest rendition you see here was introduced in 2019.
Upgrades in this cycle saw mostly tech additions like the headlining 'Hi Proton' voice control function, USB mirroring and WiFi.
Exterior - Same old, mostly
Throughout the years, Proton has not changed the Exora’s looks by much. The MPV still bares resemblance with the first car that was launched in 2009. But Proton has done what they can to give the Exora the minor detail changes to keep it current.
You also get stylish side skirting, rear spoiler, black roof top and black rear garnish only on the Premium for an overall sportier feel. Smoked head and tail lamps come as standard so the Executive variant is not left behind.
The paint thickness on our test unit shows consistency in the circa 100 um range, with a notable focus on the black roof top at 123 um.
Panel gaps range between of 3.5 mm to 5 mm, which is a bit on the high side.
Interior - Exora Premium has a premium feel to it
Proton’s latest update on the Exora saw the cabin upgraded to give off a premium environment for all passengers and by all accounts, Proton has succeeded in doing so.
The combination leather and fabric seats were comfortable, but when adjusted to its lowest, the hard plastic on the seat's lower frame bites into the thighs when exiting the car.
And being a family car, the Exora definitely has many cubby spaces to satisfy a huge family, but the bins lack depth.
Another complain is that the centre console is too low, making it difficult to reach. The same goes for the two USB ports, of which only one connects to the USB Mirroring function.
And strangely, it’s the port on the passenger side that is used for USB Mirroring function and not the one next to the driver.
On paper, the Exora’s infotainment is a winning system. 'Hi Proton', USB Mirroring, WiFi and 4G capable, built-in online music app are just a few of the features that would sooth the millennial’s soul.
But Hi Proton’s functions are very much more limited to simple functions unlike the version on the Proton X70. While the built-in music app only has outdated songs from all your favourite artists. Since this is based on Chinese apps, it doesn't support Spotify, for that you will have to use your phone's Bluetooth.
Driving Performance and Handling
As you know, the Exora comes equipped with a turbo paired to its 1.6-litre DOHC engine since 2011. The turbo is added to give the MPV more shove than the basic 1.6-litre Campro engine.
Sure enough, a light tap on the throttle will see a quick and powerful shove forward. Our 0-100 km/h tests indicate the Exora is capable of making the sprint in 11 seconds flat, while 0-100-0 km/h takes 15 seconds.
The CVT is smooth but slow, and at times, it can feel like a deer in the headlights.
The downfall of the car is the steering. Handling is very heavy, and can be felt even at high speeds. While this means that you get a steadier hold at highway speeds, driving in a parking lot, especially a narrow one, the Exora can be an armful.
Despite it’s unforgiving steering feel, the Exora is a comfortable car to ride in. All passengers get space enough to stretch, even those in the third-row seats.
However the second-row seats don't slide forward or back to allow for more space for the third-row passengers, but all seat-backs are angle adjustable.
The second row seats are easy to fold down to access the third row seats. Putting them up requires a little bit of force to make sure the seats are secured though.
In terms of cabin quietness, the Exora reads at 63 decibels at 60 km/h, 69 decibles at cruising speeds of 90 km/h and 70 decibels at 110 km/h. The tests show that the Exora does not have the quietest cabin, but acceptable for its price range.
On our test route, the Proton Exora returned 9.78-litres/100 km. The numbers are high, but considering the Exora is a heavy MPV, the high fuel consumption is expected.
The Honda Civic’s turbo fuel saving logic does not fit here, as this is just a bolt-on turbo, albeit fitted at the factory. Fuel delivery is still via a traditional port injection method, versus direct injection used by more current turbocharged engines.
The Proton Exora feels every bit the aging MPV that it is. Proton might have given the car modern upgrades in the 2019 update, but the system only serves to help you forget the age of the model for a short period.
There is still no keyless entry, nor is there push-to-start functions. Though Proton added ESC in one of the Exora’s updates, the MPV still only has 2 airbags, something that cars of 10 years ago consider as standard.
Comparatively, the Exora still does the job well as a family mover and has more space and “Malaysian” practicality than other local 7-seater MPVs (we’re talking about the teh-tarik hooks here).
So, despite the aging features and heavy handling, if we were to pick a local MPV for family practicality, the Exora is still our pick for the decade.