Once upon a time, Australia was home to Holden and Ford and some assorted imported brands that made small cars. Toyota sold Corolla, Corona, Land Cruiser and that was pretty much it. Then a car called Camry came along, with a four cylinder engine. It changed shape but didn’t really grow much, even with the addition of a V6. However, time eventually caught up with the Camry and it put on weight, getting bigger and bigger. In 2007 a decision was made to separate the four cylinder Camry from the V6 and to give the bigger engined version its own name. And lo, Aurion was born.
Aurion had big but relatively unsuccessful wheels to fill, with Toyota’s previous attempt at a V6 “big” car, the Avalon, scarcely lighting the fires of desire for Aussie drivers. Aurion, clearly based on Camry, inside and out, survives to this day but the writing is on the wall for the big car, with demand for SUV style vehicles leaving the traditional Aussie big six struggling to find a toehold.
Aurion has a 3.5L V6 engine, with Toyota’s famous 200 “killer wasps” produced at six thousand two hundred rpm. Torque’s maximum twist, of 336 Nm, is at a high four thousand seven hundred. Dry, the Sportivo weighs a not indecent 1555 kg however the fuel economy quoted by Toyota tells a tale of excess: pure highway driving sees just seven litres per hundred of 91 octane go juice being consumed from the 70 litre tank, however if the Aurion is used in its natural environment that almost doubles to 13.3 litres per hundred. The combined cycle is quoted as being 9.3L per hundred kilometres; A Wheel Thing had the Sportivo in a mix of driving circumstances and saw a best of 9.5L/100 km.
Aurion is the last of the mainstream passenger cars that Toyota has (Camry, Corolla) to update externally, retaining the sharper edged styling compared to the smoother, more rounded and more assertive look Camry and Corolla have received, complete with “pyramid” grille styling. Compared to its big sedan compatriots, Falcon and Commodore, it’s still a more cohesive look, with front and rear not at odds with each other.
There’s the somewhat blocky, almost trapezoidal profile, reflected in the headlight and taillight designs, with the only curves to be found being the driving lights at the bottom corners of the front air dam, the exhaust tips and the five spoke, 18 inch, black painted alloys. There’s some minor plastic work with the addition of a subtle boot lid spoiler and chin spoiler at the other end.
On the road the Sportivo puts its power down via a six speed auto, with Sports mode and paddle shifters on the steering column. It’s surprisingly quick, with a hint of rorty rasp from the front…there’s also noticeable torque steer under heavy right foot applications. Suspension was harder than anticipated, however, with a personal taste leaning towards a touch more compliance to start before sliding into a taut feel.
The steering itself feels as if there’s a variable ratio system fitted, as turns at slower speed seem to have more turn in the tiller. The shifters fitted are ergonomically placed, as expected, and do appear to change the gears quicker than leaving the ‘box to its own devices, which was smooth, slick and noticeable in braking the engine on certain downhill runs.
On flat, freeway roads, the Sportivo tracks straight and true, with a touch of road noise intruding. Undulations are despatched but there’s not a lot of gentleness in doing so, with that hard suspension.
The interior is a mix of new and not quite so. For example, there’s no heating for the leather seats and there’s the oddity of having a light on for when the aircon is NOT in dual zone mode. The seats themselves were comfortable enough and trimmed in a tasteful mix of black and mocha.
The dash has the same stitched look as Camry, albeit with a different design. Plastic were a mix of blacks, charcoal and an odd silver alloy look strip horizontally and wrapping the seven inch touchscreen and aircon controls. I can’t say it appealed to me.
Information wise, there’s an instant and average fuel usage graph in colour, not monochrome, front and centre, with jog buttons on the tiller to swing through the various folder options. Being a good sized car (4855 mm in length, 1825 mm in total width with height at 1470 mm) and allowed for plenty of head, shoulder and leg room, plus a cavernous boot (capacity not listed on Toyota’s website).
Audio comes in the form of AM/FM/Auxiliary/USB and Bluetooth plus there’s DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting +). Sensitivity for the DAB tuner is quite high, with minimal dropout in Sydney’s lower Blue Mountains and less so than Mitsubishi’s DAB system. Actual quality was good but seemed to lack definition.
The three level Aurion range (AT-X, Sportivo and Presara) starts at $30990, a decent price for a big car but with an overly thirsty engine. Details and more information on specifications are available here: Toyota Aurion range