'Exora’ is the name of the new Proton MPV which will be in the showrooms in April. The name was chosen from among 251,763 entries and was the submission of Norsholihan bt Abd Eanich, a teacher from Changlun in Kedah and she will receive a Proton Exora as her prize. Two other participants in the contest, run in September last year, also won prizes as they were among the 39 entrants who had submitted the same name. The winners had been picked based on their rationale for the name as well as original tagline.
The name is derived from that of a red flower (ixora) which is common in the tropics. It’s interesting that Proton no longer makes a deliberate effort to use a Malaysian name, unlike earlier years, when we had the Saga, Wira, Perdana, Satria and Juara. Proton’s Chairman Dato’ Mohd Nadzmi bin Mohd Salleh said this was not really a conscious move but felt it was right since Proton would be focusing on the global market and giving greater emphasis to exports, hence a more 'international’ name.
The first truly Malaysian MPV, which had a development cost of RM450 million (including about RM70 million on manufacturing aspects), will be built at the Medium Volume Factory (MVF) in Shah Alam, Selangor, alongside the Waja. Proton expects to sell 40,000 units a year and will be producing between 3,000 and 3,500 units a month. Exports will begin in July 2009, starting with Thailand and Indonesia.
The official price will be revealed only at the launch but Proton MD Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin bin Syed Mohd Tahir said that it will not be more than RM80,000. He revealed that it will have the 125 bhp 1.6-litre CAMPRO CPS engine and from his personal experience driving it up to Genting Highlands a number of times – with a full load of 7 persons on board – the performance is good enough. He also claimed that the Exora will be the 'best in class’ and the obvious rivals that come to mind are the Naza Citra, Toyota Avanza and Nissan Grand Livina (although it is known that the project team studied the Toyota Wish closely and even bought 11 units).
Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin also said that the new MPV will have high safety standards with dual airbags as standard and will have a lot of cupholders and finally, two hooks for the teh tarik plastic bag (a feature which this writer has always asked about at Proton product launches). He said that the features of the new model took into consideration the requirements of customers, especially Malaysian customers, and would meet the needs of typical Malaysian families. He also stressed that the third row seats will offer very good comfort for two persons.
Dato’ Mohd Nadzmi was pleased to see that Proton finally has a MPV in its line-up as he revealed that the company did have a plan to make such a model in the early 1990s when he was the MD. However, the project never went further and when Proton was 'privatised’ in the mid-1990s, it was not pursued at all by the management then. However, it is known that in 2002, there was a study to do a MPV but it was also not a priority, especially after Naza had launched the Ria, a clone of the Kia Carnival, as a 'national' MPV.
The Exora will sit on a totally new platform and not a stretched Waja platform. Though the Waja platform was originally conceived to be able to support variants like a SUV, its age poses limitations (it was derived from the Mitsubishi Carisma/Volvo S40 platform which was developed in the mid-1990s) and according to a member of the project team, the Waja platform would not be able to meet today’s European crash standards the way it is designed. This new platform is the second new platform which Proton has developed itself and will likely be used for a large model in future.
It has also been learnt that the air-conditioning system (dual blowers) will be superior to other MPVs and passengers in the third row will stay cool throughout a journey. This is something which Dato’ Syed Nadzmi noted was a Proton 'speciality’ as he recalled how the original Saga was praised for its air-conditioning system that provided highly effective cooling.
Quality-wise, this new model is expected to be far better than other models but this is to be expected since Proton has made a serious effort to improve build quality as well as the quality of materials. [Article continues after Caltex advertisement]
Those who want to be among the first to own the Exora can make their bookings at any of the 293 Proton Edar and EON showrooms nationwide from this Saturday (February 21 2009) and all it will take is payment of RM1,000 for the booking. There are five colour choices – Genetic Silver, Tranquility Black, Blue Haze, Pyrite Brown and Gaia Blue.
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