Thursday, May 28, 2009


new Proton Exora will fit neatly into Joe Average’s idea of a family carMOST of us would have by now caught a glimpse of the Proton Exora. I saw one recently, and it looked very good indeed, especially as the owner had ‘inched up’ with 17-inch wheels and super-low profile tyres. The transformation is immediate and impressive.

However, size is not an issue here. The main concerns are fuel economy and power delivery.
I was fortunate enough to get an Exora for four days, enough for me to do a fuel consumption test and also to evaluate it from a user point of view.

The first thing I did was to take my extended family, consisting of seven adults and two pre-teens – one 12 and the other 10 years old – out for dinner. The Exora had no problem hauling all of us the short distance of 5km from our home to the diner; that is, if you are in no hurry.
The Exora has enough get-up-and-go, even under light throttle, picking up speed gradually. It cruises along fine at anything between 80 to 100kph, and does it quietly and effortlessly.
If you are impatient, the electronic throttle will respond very readily (perhaps a little too readily) by dropping down a gear, or even two, the moment you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal.

As long as you keep the accelerator flat on the floor, the auto transmission controller will not allow the gearbox to change up until you hit 6,500rpm.
Similarly, when you are in third gear, the Exora’s electronics will not allow a change to fourth and top gear until you hit the maximum revolutions, which means that if you keep pedal to metal, you can hit up to 145kph before it shifts to top gear.

However, if you lift off on the accelerator, the transmission control unit (TCU), sensing that you no longer need the additional power, will allow the gearbox to shift up to the next highest gear.
I find the acceleration pull acceptable – not the fastest kid off the block, but fast enough for the Joe Average who never drives fast anyway, be it in a BMW or a Kancil – as long as you remember to floor it.

The resultant engine roar is somewhat higher than usual, but that is better than it being gutless.
A light foot on the throttle will allow the Exora to ‘ease’ upwards in speed, until approximately 100kph, after which you might have to apply a little more pressure on the foot pedal to make it go up in speed.
For the driver who just wants to get from A to B, and doesn’t normally drive fast, the Exora would be fine.
Top speed is in the region of 160kph, but only if you are going downhill. Once you hit top speed, any slight incline will make the needle start to fall backwards, and if the slope continues, the TCU may even make the gearbox downshift a gear or two.

A shift lock in top gear at around 110 upwards might be a help to prevent undesired downshifts. Under the current settings, the shift lock only occurs at speeds over 145kph.
Fuel economy is reasonable, and considering the Exora’s bulk and weight, I would volunteer that it is actually remarkable, our test car returning 21.53 miles per gallon, or 13 litres per 100km, over a test distance that covered 350km of mixed driving at high speeds, with five people and luggage on board.

A light-footed driver could expect something in the region of 10 to 11 litres per 100km.
I believe that the Exora is all right as it is; perhaps a small change in the final drive ratio might be useful in improving the get-up-and-go, and help in reducing the frequent downshifts; the same result could come from a lower profile tyre.
There’s talk about a small turbo-charger running low boost to be fitted later on. That will be interesting indeed!