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By now, most of you would have seen the very first seven seater Proton MPV on the road, the Exora.

I got to admit that when I first heard about the announcement of this new car, I was a bit skeptical if Proton is able to deliver another quality model following the impressive Satria Neo (which I reviewed) and Persona.

Proton Exora
Proton Exora in the showroom

The Exora turned out to be another quality product. Using the same proven 1.6 liter Campro CPS engine that is found throughout other Proton models, the MPV spots a huge interior and seats 7 comfortably. Comes with dual airbags, DVD player with overhead LCD monitor, good sound insulation, and most everything you ever want in an MPV.

Exora Unbeatable Family

Exora My Unbeatable Family

To showcase the car, there’s a now a prime time TV show – “Exora My Unbeatable Family”

This is the first Malaysian reality TV show that will feature families competing in physical and mental challenging using a Proton Exora. The seven episod Mandarin series is hosted by Steve Yap and Chris Tong. The show should be really entertaining, show casing family value and the appreciation for Proton Exora at the same time.

There’re six teams in the show, each comprises of five family members aged aged between 18-50 year old. For six weeks, they will face challenges and obstacles to overcome, using an Exora.

A team is eliminated every week, the last family that survived to week 6 wins a brand new Proton Exora High-line, 1st and 2nd runner-up  walks away with RM 5,000 and RM 3,000 price money too.

The show is on air 7pm every Sunday on 8 TV.

Catch the show, especially if you understands Mandarin, but if you don’t there’s always the subtitle!

Furthermore, viewers stand a chance to win RM500 cash prize on the weekly online contest! Log on www.protonexora.tv (you can also view the episodes on the site)  for more details.

I think it’s gonna be pretty interesting to see how families ganged up to go against each other for the ultimate prize. After all, a brand new MPV is a  pretty big catch.

Proton Exora

For more information and the full specifications of the car, head to Proton Edar’s website. The MPV is priced from just under RM 60k to RM 75,998 for the highest spec model.

A couple weeks ago I swapped my bike for a new Satria Neo CPS from Proton Center of Excellence for a 3-day test drive.

The Satria Neo is arguably one of the best looking hatch backs out on the road, and the CPS version has a few improvements that makes this even more so. The unit I came in a shiny black coat with the bigger rear spoiler, body kit, and the new 16″ rims that looks quite a lot better on the car compared to the original Neo’s “blink blink” rims.

Proton Satria Neo CPS
Proton Satria Neo CPS

On the inside, the improvement in workmanship can be clearly seen compared to some previous models. The dashboard is clean and minimalistic while sporting blue and yellow illumination that makes reading the speedometer and tachometer very easy in low light condition.

I particularly like the two-tone semi-bucket leather seats for the driver and front passenger. They are not only visually rather stunning, but strikes a balance between comfort and seat position rigidness when you need to keep yourself from sliding off the seat around a fast corner.

Proton Satria Neo CPS interior
Interior of the Satria Neo

The in-car entertainment unit scrolls out a “PROTON SYMPHONY” text whenever it is turned on, and while the sound system isn’t particularly high end, it does carry itself pretty well. No upgrades shall be necessary if you’re not an audiophile.

The one possible downside of the interior, depending on your body height, is the relatively low headroom for driver and front passenger. At 5’6 I am still quite comfortable with it, but I reckon those who are over 6′ tall would have a harder time especially if you are those who likes to sit closer to the steering wheel.

Satria Neo CPS Sports Rims
the 16″ Sports Rims with 195 50 R16 tyres

Other than styling and slight interior changes, the Satria Neo CPS differs from the regular Satria Neo in another crucial item, the engine. While the regular 1.6 Satria gets 110hp (112ps), the 1.6 liter Campro CPS engine in this car gets 125ps at 6500 rpm and 150 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. That’s a good 10% increment achieved by a variable valve lift system in the new motor which Proton refers to as Cam Profile Switching, hence the acronym CPS. This is similar to DVVT, VTTI, VTEC and other technologies.

Proton Satria Neo CPS
Rear shot, Proton Satria Neo CPS

3 days and some 200 km later, I must say that the car did not disappoint. Handling, especially around the bends was very good, the car felt steady and there is minimal body roll. Sound insulation is another aspect that I really like about this car, while you can hear the engine roar above 4-5k rpm, outside traffic noise is rather muted (view video taken in the Smart Tunnel below).

Fuel consumption also seems to be pretty good for this car. I collected this car with the gauge pointing at half tank, and returned it with slightly less than 1/4 tank after closed to 200km of mixed highway and city driving.

more photos at flickr set

The Satria Neo CPS goes for RM 57,763 (Manual) and RM 60,763 (Automatic Transmission), that is a lot of car for the money. Price quoted from Proton Edar.

The first generation Proton Saga that came out in 1985 was also the first ever Malaysian automobile production, based on the 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer. 23 years later, Proton finally came up with an all new second generation Proton Saga, also known as the BLM (base line model).

Proton Saga BLM front shot
The 2008 white Proton Saga BLM

While the first generation saga came with a choice of 1.3 or 1.5 liter engine (the later Iswara face lift model only had 1.3), the BLM come with only one engine choice. The 1.3 liter Campro I4 that churns out a respectable 94 bhp at 6000 rpm. For a car that weigh just over 1 tonne (about 100kg heavier than it’s predecessor), this is a pretty reasonable power to weight ratio for city and highway driving with an occasional trip to Genting.

The new car is also bigger and better than the previous version. More interior space as well as new and improved design in every aspects. It is actually quite surprising that the car is based on the same platform with Proton Savvy.

Rear view, Proton Saga BLM 2008
2008 Proton Saga BLM rear view

Proton Saga comes either with Automatic or Manual transmission. Pricing is from RM31,500 to RM39,800 and they are currently selling like hot cakes. Proton is planning to sell about 50,000 to 60,000 Sagas per year. In fact, together with Proton Persona, the car maker has improved it’s financial stage tremendously, announcing a net income in the three months ended March 31 at 236.4 million ringgit.

Back in my high school days, I had to cycle everyday from Tanjung Tokong to Ayer Itam. It was a long way, and I was the one who cycles the longest distance compared to the few hundred other poor high school kids who had to use human power to go to classes.

Being a true Malaysian, I never waited behind cars at a traffic light when I cycle. I would zigzag my way to the front of the line so to minimize my already long and tiring commute. People still do this with motorbikes and Kancils…

One day, while I was happily zigzagging my way through the stationary cars, I accidentally hit the side view mirror of a Proton car. However, instead of apologizing to the owner and risk having to pay for any potential damages, I ignored it and quickly paddle away from the car and resume my journey hastily.

KY cycling hitting side view mirror

Luckily, I was able to shake off the car and reached home without any trouble. *phew*

And then at the dinner table that night, my late dad suddenly talked to me:

“Why did you hit my car and then just ran away hah?”

Why didn’t I have such luck in buying 4Ds instead????

KLCC GRA Autocross Round 2, Jan 15 2006, Julian Pang Proton Wira

Video from Round two of GRA Autocross on 15th January, 2006 held at KLCC. This is Julian Pang with Proton Wira 1.6 doing a pretty good run and scored 3rd place with the best time of 42.47s. Just a tad slower than the no. 13 Honda CRX, and no. 39, a Civic EG6. It is a no brainer that those cars have superior powertrain as compared to the 1.6 wira.