One might argue that an MPV does not need power, but try carrying seven smelly men from a futsal game and you will appreciate whatever power you have to get you home ASAP.
That’s why when Proton put its first turbo charged engine into the facelifted Exora Bold heads turned and jaws dropped. Turbo has always been the magic word to many and no wonder then the interest in this new MPV.
Outwardly, the new bumpers definitely look good, while the bigger and wider wheels (2-5/55 R16) give the Exora a sportier stance. It is still no sports car but at least it doesn’t look like a van on stilts anymore.
Inside, Proton has finally listened to the public by changing the color scheme of the plastics from that drab sickening gray to the darker tempest gray. A small change but it gives a classier feel to the cabin.
The rest is the same. You still get the DVD player, the ceiling mounted LCD screen, seven seats and pockets everywhere. As for space, this is definitely larger than your Nissan Grand Livina or Toyota Avanza.
Now, for the fun factor: Proton did not just slap a turbo unit onto an existing Campro engine. With Lotus input, about 70 per cent of the engine has seen change. In fact, the CFE engine has a lower stroke, which means the engine capacity is down from 1,597cc to 1,561cc.
A small KP39 turbine from Borg Warner provides 0.75 bar of boost, enough to churn out 138hp and 205Nm. Not really GTI figures, but when you can get that much torque from as low as 2,000rpm, even a tricycle will feel sporty.
And that was what we felt with the Exora Bold. If there is such thing as a sporty sub-RM100,000 MPV, this will surely take the award. With such low boost, turbo-lag is nonexistent. In fact, you will not notice when the turbo kicks in.
The Exora Bold handles pretty well around the bends too and on the highway the ride is solid compared with the Japanese versions. Steering feedback was not the best but it was better than many MPVs out there.
We are happy to report that the CVT system used by Proton does not buzz or hum as loud as the others. Happily too, the L mode on the gear console was actually the Sport mode, which was the perfect ratio for our B-roads execution.
On steep inclines, the Exora Bold stood tall. Even with seven on board, this Proton surged ahead with gusto. Going downhill, the bigger brakes and wider tyres helped to provide confidence.
For fuel consumption, we averaged around 9.5L/100km during our 4-day test drive, not too bad for a vehicle of this size. Proton’s claimed figure, however, is 7.8L/100km at a constant 90km/h.
One might say that an MPV has never been a TopGear thingy but the Exora Bold definitely deserves a test drive. After all, we think this might be the best MPV there is in its category.
Proton Exora Bold
1,561cc, inline-4, 16-valve with VVT, turbo-charged
RM79,998 (on-the-road for Exora Bold)
Proton’s best car might be an MPV