The Hits and Misses of the Exora

The Hits and Misses of the Exora

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A seven-seater with a genuine Malaysian touch


This picture of Proton CEO, Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir sitting in the third row of seats is the first photo I show my friends when they ask me about the Exora. Syed Zainal is 5-foot 10 and as you can see from this photo, his knees are not banged up against the back of the second row of seats.

This means that the Exora passes the first test of a seven-seat MPV, it actually seats seven adults.

Lets look at the picture again. Syed Zainal’s knees ends up quite high when he is seated, this is because the footwell is a bit shallow. This is a problem that most compact MPVs suffer, even those that cost twice the money.

As an Avanza owner I can say that the cabin configuration and space of the Exora is superior to the Avanza in nearly every way, except for the third row legroom.

Comapred to the Grand Livina, the Exora is more roomy and has the advantage of having air conditioning vents for all three rows. All MPV owners know how important it is to keep all rows of passengers cool because the kids can really kick a fuss if they don’t get air conditioning.


OK. now that we have established that the Exora is a genuine seven-seater, let’s look at the styling. Styling is important because most people judge a car on looks, regardless of what it is. Heck even truck drivers judge trucks on looks.

Personally I like the simple lines of the Exora. Proton said that the angular looks is in keeping with the current automotive styling trend. They are right of course, just look at the chiseled looks of the new Mercedes-Benz line-up and the current Honda styling vocabulary and you will see that angular, masculine is in and soft organic curves are yesterday’s.

Given the tight budget and even tighter deadlines that Proton set for their development engineers, the simple surface treatment is entirely understandable but even with those restrictions the designers made a lot of effort to give the car character.

The semi-clamshell bonnet, dramatic swage-line on the flank and prominent jaw are some of the examples of their effort to make the Exora handsome. Well I think it is a fairly good looking vehicle.


While in the driving seat, we were keen to find out if the 125hp Campro CPS 1.6 has enough grunt to keep the Exora interesting for keen drivers.

In one word I would describe the power output as adequate.

Although we only had a chance to drive the automatic and the route was a shade more than 32 kilometres, it was enough to give us an impression of what the Exora can do.

Even with four near-rugby player size adults on board, the Exora could accelerate at a fairly decent rate and in top gear, the Campro will spin at about 3,400rpm when cruising at 120km/h. Good enough for a relaxing cruise for the obedient.

Those who prefer the excitement of higher velocities, the Exora would easily hit 160 clicks per hour.

The Exora is clearly superior to the Avanza when it comes to performance and would probably match the Grand Livina except maybe at very low speed when the Campro’s torque deficit puts it slightly behind the Grand Livina.

In terms of engine refinement, the Exora is firmly in second place behind the Livina but ahead of the Avanza, which has much taller gearing ratio.


Proton made a lot of effort to spice up the spec sheet and they decided to offer features that are only found in vehicles that are a lot more expensive than the Exora. The key engineering leap that they took was the use of CAN-BUS wiring for the body-control function.

Basically, what this means is that many of the comfort, convenience and security functions of the car is run by a central processor. With more processing power, they could pack a lot more features into the Exora. Features such as the programmable remote locking system, hazard flashing during emergency braking, lane change mode of the turn indicator and auto rear wiper on reverse.

I know these are not ground breaking features but you don’t get them in the two named competitors, do you?

The truth is CAN-BUS wiring is a complicated affair and can cause a lot of problems with a car so Proton implemented it separately from other crucial functions. In more expensive cars, the can bus would run everything from engine management to traction control to the airbag trigger system. This is obviously the best way to maximise the processing power of the electronics but it also means that if the CAN-BUS goes on the blitz, nothing works.

By allowing the engine to run on its own processor and letting the airbag and ABS to operate independently, any fault with the CAN-BUS would only affect the comfort and convenience features and not cripple the engine.

Proton said they saved nearly two kilogrammes of wiring by using CAN BUS. less wiring means less complication and less assembly time and lower costs.


I also like the one-hand operation of the second row from flip to tumble. The one-hand operation of the third row is also well engineered. If there is anything that I don’t really liek about the cabin it is the tree-bark texture on the lower plastic panels but hey that is a personal opinion. some people seem to like it.


The luggage area is typical of a seven-seater MPV; You can have seven people with overnight luggage  or five with weekend luggage and more.

That said, the straight lines of the exterior means that the limited luggage room when all three rows of seats are up is more practical than the competitors.

The luggage net is nice touch.img5593ies

I saved the dashboard picture for the last because I think that it is the most important feature of the Exora, of any car. First impression is that the driving environment is comfortable and blessed with decent ergonomics. I particularly like the position of the gear lever and the lack of obstruction between the two front seats. Now the front passenger can attend to the kids without going down.

VERDICT: I like the Exora and I don’t have any real reservations about the car other than petty details that are down to personal preference. The Campro CPS may be just a 1.6-litre but it loves to be worked hard and gives the Exora decent performance. Please go to the nearest Proton Showroom and give it a close look. It really is a car worth giving your consideration even if you are planning to spend a bit more money. Really.

Gallery: Proton Exora 1.6 Campro CPS (Auto)

*edited 5/5/09 (corrected typo mistake)*


  1. Look at how upright the second row seat is when Syed Zainal seats on the third row. Effectively, the third row is more suitable for kids.

  2. had a look at the car today.
    looks big on the outside but small on the inside.
    quality has improved in appearance. we will of course have to look at the durability and reliability
    of components in the long run.
    price – so so.

    1. you cannot genuinely fit an adult comfortably in the 3rd row seat.
    2. even if you can pack the car with people like sardines, proton left very little consideration for luggage.
    the least they could have done to cushion this adversity is to provide the roof carrier box complimentary
    with the purchase of every car. so much for a balik kampung or travelling holiday vehicle when you have so
    limited place for hari raya or holidaying luggage.
    3. considering the fact that proton is many years late in producing an mpv they had all the time to make this
    model look better in appearance. sadly, the shape is outright boring and there is just no umph factor. it doesn’t
    exactly have the looks that would make you look twice.
    4. again, because they had so many years why couldn’t they have just made a full size mpv (like the naza ria).
    this would have been more practical for a lot of reasons.
    5. please have a look at the front seats. is it me or are the seat width just too narrow.
    6. sliding doors would have been great. the current set-up is old fashioned.
    7. the little triangular glass at the a-panel really serves no purpose.
    8. seat quality – keras
    9. gated gear selection…good concept but if it’s there for sporty purposes, it’s the wrong vehicle
    to incorporate this into.

    the car will sell no doubt, heck, it might even win car of the year, but what is disturbing is they were at liberty
    to actually set a new benchmark for a compact mpv or mpv but instead chose to stick as close as they can
    to their nearest competitors and only marginally outperforming the latter in certain areas. it’s not really an eye-opener
    model that will grab attention overseas.
    and if space is already a concern for us average malaysian size, can you imagine how cramped it will be to squeeze
    an extended family of arabs, europeans, australians…
    still, a brilliant effort by each and every one of the local engineers. it’s not easy to build a car and what they
    have all learnt and experienced over more than 20 years is certainly reflected in proton’s many new models.
    if proton ever intends to build a fullsize bonafide mpv, it’s back to the drawing boards.


  3. I’ve physically sat on the third row seats. Well, honestly speaking,they are not suitable for adults definately!

  4. Is there a deliberate omission of the Kia Rondo so that the Exora’s attributes will shine through instead of being dulled by the Rondo? I smell a big fish here.

    I am 5ft 10″ and when I am seated in the 3rd row (with both backrests at a comfortable and practical angle – not the PR-angle as seen in the above photo), my knees are pushed up against the rear of the 2nd row backrests. So let’s cut the BS shall we? :)

    I have no such issues in the Rondo’s 3rd row (with the 2nd row slid front slightly but with still generous space for 2nd row passengers).

    One thing the Exora trumps the Rondo is in head space in ALL rows and that’s it.

  5. The exterior looks ok, but the interior looks cheap, can’t imagine how they can sell it at almost 70k. Have you all seen the changan MPV that looks like a mini toyota alphard. I’ve seen it at Giant kelana jaya and i actually see people booking it. It only cost Rm40k, have a suzuki engine and it’s a greater value for money. Looks like proton has a serious competition.
    I’m not their sales man though, actually i don’t really like MPV. Just my 2 cents.

  6. without a turbodiesel, proton exora will fail the overseas market

    – in europe only UK is RHD. others are LHD. EU countries prefer to have diesel engine options. the same reason why livina or avanza/innova are not sold there.

    – exora will definitely wont sell in north/south/central america

    – there are stiff competitions in China of course. Exora cant even beat Cherry Eastar in terms of size and engine spec.

    – Japanese market? some Japanese companies even struggling to sell their own MPV there. Nissan for example as they almost went bankrupt early of the millenium

    – Any possibilties are in Asean country. But unfortunately, Thais prefer diesel pick-ups, Indons want a cheap and non-fancy MPV (the Kijang is always popular there)

    in the end, its back to square one for Proton. They will bank on Malaysians again as the biggest supporter/buyer of Exora.

    Proton should consider this in order to be successful in overseas market:-

    1. Have an option of 2.0 litre engine petrol and most probably a clean turbodiesel too.
    2. Create a crossover model of this exora. or BMW 3 series and X3. Or VW Polo and Crosspolo.

  7. This article is full of spelling errors which could have been detected easily by using MS Word.

  8. Hello, boleh saya turut serta dlm perbincangan ini?

    Saya rasa perbandingan yg diberikan adalah agak mentah (kurang pemerhatian).

    Isu yg paling besar saya lihat ialah kerusi baris ke-3, ruang bagasi dan pintu. Manakala tdpt beberapa fitur lain telah disalah tafsir fungsinya.

    1. Kerusi baris ke-3
    Jika menyebut ttg MPV / station wagon (tayar dibawah kerusi) maka tiada perbezaan dgn mana-mana model. Melainkan jika anda ingin menyebut ttg van (tayar dibawah badan / antara tayar). Saya melihat MPV sbg versi baru model station wagon yg telah ditinggikan sedikit bumbungnya. Jika MPV (tayar dibawah kerusi), maka tiada ruangan kaki yg besar utk kerusi baris ke-3. Sebutlah beberapa model (Citra/GLivina/Alza-bumbung lebih rendah) yg lain. Cuma, model-model ini menawarkan kuasa enjin ataupun ekonomi bahanapi (aspek yg perlu Proton terokai dgn lebih mendalam).

    2. Ruang bagasi
    Saya masih kaitkan MPV dgn station wagon…Oleh itu, pertambahan kerusi baris ke-3 semestinya akan mengorbankan ruangan bagasi. Space technology yg diaplikasikan bagi mengatasi masalah ini ialah…membina dinding belakang kenderaan yg hampir tegak. Cthnya, Alphard? Jika dibandingkan dari ciri ini…Citra/Glivina/Alza/Innova/Exora…pilihlah model yg mempunyai dinding belakang yg hampir tegak

    3. Pintu
    Utk ciri pintu engsel atau gelongsor, kita perlu melihat kpd geometri kenderaan yg anda ingin pilih. Ini akan mempengaruhi kestabilan kenderaan dan kecanggihan sistem gantungan yg ada. Jika nisbah tinggi>lebar, pintu gelongsor boleh digunakan. Geometri ini memberikan ruang dibawah kenderaan untuk menempatkan sistem yg diperlukan. Tetapi, sistem gantungan yg canggih diperlukan utk menstabilkan kenderaan. Kos sistem gantungan adalah satu permberat yg besar kpd harga kenderaan. Yg pasti, ini bukan pilihan kpd kenderaan kos sederhana. Maka, Citra/GLivina/Alza/Innova/Exora tiada pilihan ini (setakat ini). Tetapi…van Nissan Vannette Elite ada…jika mahu…RM77K juga!!! Hehehe

    4. Enjin
    Dgn gabungan teknologi enjin-transmisi-bahanapi ( DVVT/CPS/Vtech) yg ada, enjin 1.6L sudah cukup utk jalanraya di sekitar Asia Tenggara krn kita tiada Freeway (tiada had laju). Bahkan jika ada Freeway, tidak perlu kuasa tujahan yg besar krn ada laluan yg panjang dan masa yg byk utk capai kpd kelajuan yg diinginkan. Laluan yg pendek spt di sini pula terlalu byk kenderaan utk memecut 3 saat dan membrek selama 30 saat berikutnya!!! Bahkan…kpd yg berminat dgn enjin Diesel, beban yg dipikul oleh enjin amat diperlukan sbg kuasa mampatan semasa pembakaran. Sbb itu, lazimnya diesel 4.5L vs turbodiesel 4.5L atau petrol 4.7L/? Oleh itu, enjin 1.6L mungkin mampu capai keseimbangan kuasa enjin – penjimatan bahanapi.

    5. Tingkap
    Tingkap yg luas adalah baik utk pemanduan ttp isu sinaran matahari yg masuk juga perlu diambil kira. Tingkap segitiga kecil dibhgn depan pula adalah ciri tambahan spy kita dpt mengambil selekoh dgn lebih baik. Ini dpt membantu jika kedudukan pemandu agak rendah drpd cermin hadapan. Begitu juga dgn cermin blkg yg luas dan tinggi. Bandingkan Citra/GLivina/Alza/Exora…

    6. Hiasan dalaman
    Ini adalah aspek terakhir yg wujud dlm setiap perbincangan. Biasanya ditimbulkan sbg aspek terakhir dlm perbincangan ttp selalunya menjadi Faktor Utama dlm pemilihan para pembeli (termasuk saya). Kualiti bahan / susunatur panel / ergonomi (kerusi/letak tangan/ruangan aksesori). Faktor ini adalah faktor visual (kualitatif) yg sering membebankan fikiran kita. Ttp, jika diperhatikan contoh bukan MPV…ini adalah kekurangan utama bagi Ford Escape iaitu hiasan dalaman yg biasa (berbanding GVitara/CRV) ttp menawarkan fungsi enjin / badan / pemanduan yg seimbang . Ini semua berjaya meletakkannya juara 5 tahun berturut-turut bagi kategori SUV.

    Mmg susah memilih kereta idaman KELUARGA. Memilih kereta idaman SENDIRI yg paling mudah!

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