Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the Proton Exora people-mover.
Australia’s cheapest seven-seater, the Proton Exora, is priced from $25,990 drive-away for the entry-level GX.
But, as the saying goes “you get what you pay for” those on a budget will have to compromise the safety of back-seat passengers, as the Malaysian-built family wagon only has airbag protection for the driver and front-seat passengers.
The better equipped Exora GXR, which brings extras such as leather trim, cruise control and a reversing camera for an extra $2000.
Both cars have the same engine and transmission, a 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit coupled with a CVT automatic that drives the front wheels.
It feels like it is working harder than it ought to, as response from rest is sluggish, and there are under-bonnet drones and whines not present in more polished rivals.
The Exora rides reasonably well over imperfections, and while it is a bit on the bumpy side on less than perfect roads it is generally well behaved.
The Exora has a van-like wagon body with four conventional doors instead of the sliding doors seen in some models.
Compared with the Honda Odyssey it is a little wider and taller, though it is 20 centimetres shorter than Honda’s offerings.
Proton’s interior is a little utilitarian, with hard plastic and inconsistent panel gaps that point to a car built to a price.
But potential customers will likely be chasing value rather than quality, wooed by drive-away pricing along with Proton’s promise of five years’ warranty, free servicing and free roadside assist.
Proton has worked to cater to second and third row occupants with eight air vents throughout the cabin, and a roof-mounted DVD display monitor is standard in both models. It does offer a good package of standard gear including remote locking, power windows and mirrors and a good sound and climate control system.
The only major compromise is on the safety front. While stability control and four airbags for front seat occupants saw the Exora earn a four-star ANCAP safety score, a lack of air-bag coverage for the five rear seats is difficult to overlook.
But really this is the only black mark against a cut-price alternative that should do the job for majority of motorists – as long as they are willing to put price ahead of safety.
Summing up it; the Proton Exora can be described as mid-range people mover at a sensible price that will attract family buyers on a tight budget.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.6 litre turbo-petrol producing 103kW and 205Nm
Transmission: CVT automatic
Safety: Four stars
Price: From $25,990