I have to admit, I think Proton has massive guts to enter the United Kingdom’s market as the UK car market is one of the most competitive markets in the world. With almost 50 car marques and almost thousands of models and trims to choose from, the car industry in UK is a tough nut to crack. Proton started to sell the Saga saloon since the late 80’s and did relativity well. Cheap and cheerful motoring from the Saga, Persona (known as Wira in Malaysia), Satria and so on did brought cheerful smiles to the Brits looking for an affordable ride.
However, in recent years Proton is fading in the UK market. Despite offerings like the Gen-2, Savvy, and the new Persona, there’s hardly any Protons seen in the UK. Massive competition from the improved offerings of KIA and Hyundai from Korea, and noncompetitive products from Proton are among the reasons. However, this might change as Proton will launch the Exora MPV into the UK market.
The Exora has been a success in Malaysia
The Exora MPV has been successful in Malaysia, thanks to its spacious design and affordable pricing, despite marred by an underpowered 1.6cc engine and archaic gearboxes. However, Proton is working hard on introducing forced induced engines into future Proton cars, and the Exora will be the first one to be equipped with a turbocharger and 6 speed CVT gearbox. The new Exora with new engines and powertrain is scheduled for a late 2011 launch in Malaysia and stated to launch in the UK by 2012.
The spyshot of the supposed turbocharged Exora
Here’s the interesting part, the world’s oldest car magazine Autocar UK, reviewed the Malaysian version of Proton Exora. The review is best described as “encouraging” as the journalist praised the Exora’s spacious seats, modern looking dashboard, decent equipment list and looks acceptable. However, they’re not pleased with the ride and handling of the Exora and the engine and gearbox combo (125HP Campro CPS with 4 speed auto gearbox) is slow. However, the Exora’s main selling point is its attractive pricing, at £14,000. The journalist gave thumbs up for that.
The spacious interior was well praised
More interestingly, for the UK market, it will use the new Proton 1.6cc turbocharged engine with CVT gearbox. The cheaper manual transmission should sell well in UK as well. The unheard Diesel version will come in 2014, although it remains unknown which diesel engine Proton will be sourcing. The old Saga did well in UK not because of its ride or handling but its cheap to buy and run in the UK. The current Persona, Gen-2 and Satria Neo can’t even compete with cheaper and better quality cars from Korea but with the Exora, the Brits can buy a decent quality mid size MPV at a price of an European supermini. It may not be the best MPV compared to the Ford S-Max (priced at £22,000 at least), but if it is well priced below £15,000, Proton cheap and cheerful to the UK is poised to make a return!
The first gen Saga was successful in UK, will it be the same for the Exora?
[SOURCE: Autocar UK]