A Turbocharged Minivan – 2013 Proton Exora Bold Review

Engine: 1.6L CamPro CFE DOHC I4 Turbo

Year: 2013

Drive train: Front Wheel Drive

Transmission: 6-speed CVT Automatic

Second hand value (2017): ~RM40,000


This particular Exora has a rather interesting story to begin with. According to the owner, this car was originally a daily driver for his late grandfather who was a diabetic with an amputated left leg below the knee. He could get in to the driver’s seat without any assistance and head off to wherever he wished. OKU friendly is what this car is. It still has the disabled sticker so this was my first time driving a car with an OKU sticker. I have to say it felt as if people were nicer to me on the road.



The Exora Bold doesn’t draw attention to you. And if you don’t know what the CFE badge stands for (Charged Fuel Efficiency), you wouldn’t even know it was turbocharged until you drive it. Let’s explore more on the turbocharged CamPro engine shall we.


Campro CFE (Charged Fuel Efficiency)



The turbocharger (right in the middle) is not there to give you “braaaaap sutututu” kind of performance. It’s there to churn out an extra 28 hp from the 1.6 litre CamPro engine to carry the added weight around. This CamPro block has a shorter stroke than the standard Campro but with the same bore size.


As usual, I shall use my own car as a comparison. The 2007 Persona comes with a standard 1.6 litre CamPro engine. There is no CPS, VVT, IAFM, or CFE*.


Each CamPro variation has its own strengths and weaknesses but for now let’s just compare the power outputs.



Standard CamPro 1.6 IAFM CamPro 1.6 CPS CamPro 1.6 CFE CamPro 1.6 VVT CamPro 1.6
Maximum Power Output 110hp 109hp 125hp 138hp 107hp


*IAFM= Integrated Air Fuel Module; CPS = Cam Profile Shift; CFE = Charge Fuel Efficiency; VVT = Variable Valve Timing



2007 Proton Persona 1.6 (Auto) 2013 Proton Exora Bold (Auto)
Maximum Power Output 110hp 138hp
Kerb Weight 1190kg 1486kg
Power per unit tonne 92.43hp/tonne 92.87hp/tonne


So the CamPro CFE in an Exora gives a little bit more power per unit tonne than the standard Persona with a standard Campro. The turbocharger is there to help carry the added weight around. Will we see second hand CM Personas and Gen 2s with CFE engine swaps in the future? It won’t make a significant difference but let’s check back in a few years time.


Describing the Exora Bold

The Exora Bold is a practical turbocharged minivan with subtle styling. It’s not a high-performance car and doesn’t pretend to be one. It doesn’t look as docile as a Nissan Grand Livina either. Hence the ‘Bold’ in Exora Bold. It doesn’t try too hard to look quick and I appreciate that.




It even has double exhaust tips but doesn’t flaunt it. In a world where even Mercedes puts fake chrome muffler tips on its cars, this is something to be proud of.


It’s like the normal looking father of four who could beat your ass in an arm wrestle but chooses to wear loose fitting short sleeved button up shirts, plain jeans, old man glasses, and flip flops to tone down his presence in public. I would reserve the term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” for the Lotus Carlton, the Volvo 850 T-5R, or the Ford Transit with Jaguar XJ220 Engine. The Exora is not a high-performance car, let alone a crazy one like the XJ220 transit.


The only ‘rice’ elements fresh from the factory are the smoked taillights and spoiler. But they’re fine really. It’s not as bad as the 2003 Hyundai Accent with the big wing or Impreza S201.




 


What is It Like to Drive?



The interior feels like an upgrade from the CM Persona. It has a nicer steering wheel and nicer seats. The steering wheel rattles at around 110kmh similar to most CM Personas. The steering is hydraulic and I like the way it handled. It did grip well through twisty highway ramps. Although taller than a standard saloon, it didn’t feel as lofty as a big SUV (eg. Honda CRV).


It has a turbocharger that you can hear whistle from around 2500rpm onward. As mentioned earlier, it’s there to help carry around the bigger body of the Exora. Fuel consumption is similar to that of the 2007 Persona with the Standard 1.6L Campro. Applying my usual driving style, it did manage 9.0-10.0 L/100km or 10.52km/l.


The 6-speed CVT Automatic feels fine once you’ve taken off. There is a lag in throttle response but I believe that has more to do with the electronic throttle control. It comes with a step auto button, similar to that of the Proton Saga FLX when the CVT was first introduced in the Proton line-up. A rather useless feature, it is no longer present in newer Proton models with CVT automatic transmission.


The gear shifter has that unique squiggly layout which reminded me of the first time I drove a Toyota Hilux (a company car). The indicator stalk, as most Protons are made, is on the left-hand side.


I do believe the Exora has some electronic issues. There is a rather significant lag when you change gear and when you apply the throttle. The engine also sometimes shuts down abruptly just after you start it. Don’t worry this has never happened in the middle of a drive. Only as soon as you start the engine. When I dove the 2017 Persona there was a bit of lag, but the one in the Exora is bad. When I spoke to the owner, it seemed as if this was a common problem with the Exora. According to other Exora owners online, this could be sorted out at Proton Service Centres. Let’s test it our ourselves. If you do have an Exora Bold, you’re not alone if you are experiencing issues with the electronics. I’ll include an update in this post if the owner gets it fixed.


The Exora Bold does come with an autocruise function that takes some getting used to. It has a reverse camera and the screen pops up on your rear view mirror. I thought that was neat. I didn’t manage to get a picture, so here’s a picture from the Proton Car Virtual Showroom.



Some Features



The turbocharger. The intercooler is a front-mount unit positioned at the front bottom left corner of the car. Should be better cooling than, say a Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo.




The Exora Bold comes equipped with Cruise Control. Handy for long haul drives.



7 Seats. The last row of seats is still considerably confortable. They fold flat to give you massive boot space.



All round disc brakes and sport rims.



An entertainment system that uses DVDs and USB. These are dying out since we started getting the majority of our entertainment from smart phones.




I think the headlights are smoked too. And you get fog lights.




Clarion sound system with Bluetooth connectivity.



See the “S.AUTO” button? That is to activate the step auto mode which is no longer present in newer Proton cars with CVT.




Averaging 9.8 L/100km with my almost civilised driving behaviour.




Brought to you by Gran Turismo.


Conclusion



If I needed to carry more people around, I might consider the Exora. If I could sleep comfortably in the back, this could be a very convenient car for long hauls and photography trips where I plan to do loads of time lapse shots and sleep in the car. But get the electronics fixed, it’s annoying and potentially dangerous. This is why I prefer my cars to be more mechanical than electrical. If you can tolerate standard Proton car issues like I can (dash/steering rattle, noise, creaks, but really good air conditioning), the Exora is not bad. Other options for a 7 seater minvan would be what? A Grand Livina, an Odyssey, a Stream, or a Wish? Of course they come with a different price tag. If I could get my hands on those maybe we could do some comparison for this class of cars.


 

Until then.

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