I stopped by at my area’s Tesco Hypermarket yesterday after work and saw a gleaming new Proton Exora on display at its concourse.
With minutes to spare before my wife and daughters arrived to join me – plus the fact that there was only a small crowd around the MPV - I took the opportunity to take a closer look at the national car company latest offering.
You know: the knock on dashboard, sit on the seat, flip the sun visor and open the boot kind of scrutiny.
While the look was too much Toyota Wish(y), at RM70K, I would have to say it’s probably a good alternative for those looking for something other than a normal sedan/hatchback of the RM70K region.
Not that I was interested in the Exora as, after ownership of three models which gave me varying levels of headaches and heartaches, I had given up on Proton.
My first ever was a Proton Satria 1.3 which I recalled the salesman graciously assisting in reversing the car out from their showroom for me during collection upon hearing that I had only gotten my driver’s license.
Fortune smiled slightly on me on that one as the alternator decided to die during the warranty period; but others didn’t - fuel gauge that stops at just below the half full mark while moving toward empty, power windows malfunctioning at the best of times and a horn that gives a honk automatically whenever I turn a sharp right (perhaps a safety measure which I wasn’t aware of).
The dreadful Asian Financial Crisis saw me downgrading (or upgrading where door count was concerned) to a Proton Iswara Aeroback.
It wasn’t a perfect car, but the Iswara – as the tens of thousands owners would attest to – is a good workhorse which rarely fails on you.
The only downside was the high-ish 8% interest rate I was slapped with.
When the engine started drinking its oil (after about 3 and a half year), and Proton came out with its all Proton Gen2 model, my wife and I decided it was time to consider another change.
Our choices were: the Proton Waja (seats and reliability sucks, great drive), the Kia Rio (reliability so so, cute looks) and, of course, the Gen2.
A test drive got us hooked for what would turn out to be a nightmare in car ownership.
Barely 1,000km on the odometer the driver power window died right at the Jelapang toll plaza – the first to be followed one by one by the three others - and there was unnerving rattling sounds from God knows where which were never ably rectified.
The Campro engine was also prone to overheating bouts: we’d have the fan whirring away especially after a long journey, something which persisted even after numerous tinkering, a full change in cylinder head and countless number of radiator flushing.
A technician of the workshop where the cylinder head change whatchamaccalit was done blamed the radiator fan for the problem, pointing out that it weakened over time.
All these, in barely three years of ownership.
We had two cars at the time: the other being a 1991 Suzuki Swift and - to tell the truth and nothing but the truth - she was the more reliable (albeit less comfortable) ride.
Then we had three: a Hyundai Matrix, as the Gen2 could no longer be relied on for long journeys.
Finally, fed up and extremely frustrated with the hassle of going in and out of service centres over the never ending overheating problem, we traded it at a loss for a Perodua Viva.
(We still needed of a second car as the Swift was given to my brother in law when we got the Matrix.)
As I sat in the plush leather seat of the Exora and admiring the solidity of its interior, memories in the heady, hateful, days of the Gen2 came back strongly.
If ever I am in need of a seven seater, I’d probably wait until I’m able to buy a non-Proton.
Talking about cars, the “new” Perak State government is somewhat in its sanctimonious best in its auctioning off the Toyota Camrys bought by the “old” State government.
Don’t tell me they want to downgrade back to Proton Perdana? A political one-up-manship, perhaps?
I bet if given the choice between the two, the “new” State executive councilors wouldn’t mind travelling in barely broken-in Toyota Camry than a Perdana.
Why not go the whole way by buying the Exora, Dr Zambry? It’s much cheaper and would accommodate two more entourage per vehicle.
Although, I’m betting that even they wouldn’t mind the Camry too.
What’s that I hear: cost savings and helping the national cause?
Oh... Okay then…
(At least the Perak “new” state government is not doing a Dr Khir Toyo’s (paraphrasing here) "If he goes economy his subordinates would be sitting in the baggage section" excuse.. so fair lah..)