Proton Exora, priced from $25,990, drive away, is quite simply the most affordable seven-seater in Australia. The Malaysian-made compact people mover also carries a large carrot in the form of free servicing for the first five years or 75,000 kilometres.

And there is no skimping on equipment, with reverse parking alarm, DVD for rear-seat residents, stylish twin five-spoke alloy wheels and a full-size spare on the base model GX.

The up-specced Proton GXR test vehicle also added reversing camera, cruise control, daytime running lights, roof-mounted rear spoiler and leather seat upholstery, all for an extra $2000.

The Exora, at almost 1700 mm, stands tall, a dimension only accentuated by pinched width (1809 mm). The front has all the grilles and air intakes found on vehicles these days, the bonnet sloping up to a sharply raked windscreen.

The roof rises and falls towards a vertical tailgate topped off by a skinny spoiler on the GXR only. The 16-inch alloy wheels are shod with well-rated rubber. However, the tyres can be noisy on some coarser road surfaces.

Inside, it’s cheap digs as opposed to luxury hotel, with a hotchpotch of plastic and metallic finishes, lifted to a certain extent in the Proton GXR by leather upholstery.

The seats are flat and unsupportive but allow for versatile cargo carrying thanks to multi-adjustment – the second row split is 60:40, the third row 50:50. Headroom is generous, shoulder space is not.

The third row of seats is strictly children-only, made very attractive to the little-uns by the roof-mounted DVD player. With the seats in use there’s little room left for luggage behind and load access can be a gamble with a tailgate that fails to lift above reasonable head height. Ouch! Though if you’re smart you only do that once…

The engine is an uprated version of the 1.6-litre non-turbo unit found in the Proton Preve GX, with shortened stroke and to give it the lower compression ratio needed by a charged engine.

The 103 kW of peak power may seem a little lacking for a seven-seater wagon but performance is adequate thanks to 205 Nm of torque popping up at 2000 rpm connected to an efficient continuously variable transmission.

Engineers from British sports car company Lotus, which is owned by Proton, have produced a relatively firm suspension and taught steering. It’s certainly not sporting but works well enough and the dynamics are better than you would expect in a bargain priced people mover.

Expect to use eight to nine litres per 100 kilometres in a mix of day-to-day city commuting and open-road running. Brakes are discs all round, ventilated at the front.

Electronic stability and traction control, anti-skid brakes and speed activated door locks, plus four airbags earn the Exora a four-star ANCAP safety rating, while there is a lot of high tensile steel in use giving the body strength and rigidity.

Turn a blind eye to some ordinary fixtures and fittings and the Proton Exora is fine for those who want carrying capacity without breaking the family budget.


GX 1.6-litre five-door people mover: $25,990 (CVT)
GXR 1.6-litre five-door people mover: $27,990 (CVT)
Note: These are driveaway prices and include all government and dealer delivery charges.

Five years free servicing (Standard)
Five years roadside assist (Standard)
Electronic stability control (Standard)
Dual front and side airbags (Standard)
Reverse parking alarm (Standard)
DVD (Standard)
Alloy wheels (Standard)
Cruise control (GXR standard)
Reversing camera (GXR standard)
Leather upholstery (GXR standard)
Daytime running lights (GXR standard)

SPECIFICATIONS (Proton Exora 1.6L 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine)
Capacity: 1561cc
Configuration: four-cylinder DOHC, 16-valve MPI
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 86.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 8.9:1
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 205 Nm @ 2000-4000 rpm

Transmission: CVT, front-wheel drive

Length: 4592 mm
Width: 1809 mm
Height: 1691 mm
Wheelbase: 2730 mm
Track: 1542 mm (front); 1530 mm (rear)
Kerb weight: 1475 kg (GX); 1485 (GXR)
Cargo capacity: 132 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres

Suspension: McPherson struts and coil springs with gas dampers and a stabiliser bar (front); Torsion beam (rear)
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), solid discs (rear). Electronic stability control with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA),Traction Control System (TCS)
Steering: Hydraulic rack-and-pinion
Wheels: 16 in alloy
Tyres: 205/55R16. Full-size spare

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A

Fuel type: 91RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 8.2 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 193 g / km
Emissions: Euro IV

Greenhouse Rating: 6.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10

5 years / 150,000 kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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