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First look: Toyota’s next Commodore fighter

Emerged: The next-generation Toyota Aurion will share the new Camry's wheelbase and chassis, but will get slightly more conservative styling detail both front and rear.

First official images of Toyota’s next-generation Aurion sedan emerge in Europe

29 Aug 2011

TOYOTA revealed its larger, more luxurious new Camry sedan for selected European and Asian markets on the same day it launched its redesigned global Camry mid-sizer in the US last week, providing an accurate preview of the all-new Aurion with which Toyota will challenge Holden’s top-selling Commodore in Australia from next April.

As we reported in July, the 2012 Aurion will once again share the new Camry’s body, chassis and unchanged 2775mm wheelbase, but features revised front and rear styling, including less adventurous headlights and tail-lights, a more formal bonnet and front quarter panels, a taller chromed grille and deeper, squarer and more understated bumpers with a narrower lower front air-intake.

The slightly longer ‘premium’ Camry also gets a more upmarket interior than the global Camry, by featuring a unique new dashboard design with upright centre stack and alloy-look highlights, a new four-spoke multi-function steering wheel and, at least on the top-shelf version, stitched leather dash-top material and swathes of woodgrain trim on the armrests, gearshift surround and horizontal centre section.

Now, official images and information from Toyota’s Ukrainian subsidiary has also revealed a number of key technical specifications that are likely to apply to Toyota Australia’s new Aurion large sedan, which will be built at Altona alongside the seventh-generation Camry mid-sizer that goes on sale here in November.

Including V6 and four-cylinder petrol variants, five versions of the premium Camry will be available in Europe, but the Aurion will be a hybrid-only model in Japan, which will join China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in offering only the premium Camry for sale.

8 center imageJust as the shorter Camry will remain a (2.5-litre) four-cylinder-only model in Australia – which continues to be the only market to receive both versions of the Camry – the Aurion will still be available here exclusively with a 3.5-litre petrol V6 matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

This time, however, power output increases by 4kW – from 200 to 204kW – while peak torque has been upped by 10Nm to 346Nm.

Like the new Camry, kerb weight is also down slightly for the Aurion, with a 50kg weight saving (down to 1540kg) combining with improved engine efficiency to reduce average fuel consumption in Europe from 9.9 litres per 100km to 9.3L/100km.

If those figures carry over to Australia, next year’s Aurion will be almost as efficient as entry-level 3.0-litre V6-powered versions of the Commodore Omega and Berlina sedan, which produce 190kW/290Nm and return 9.1L/100km, while undercutting Ford’s most basic Falcon XT sedan (195kW/391Nm, 9.9L/100km).

However, the new Aurion will hit local showrooms around the same time as Ford’s first four-cylinder Falcon, which is expected to become Australia’s most fuel-efficient large sedan by a significant margin.

According to European data, the new Aurion will be 4825mm long, 1825mm wide and 1480mm high, making it just 10mm longer, 5mm wider and 10mm taller than the outgoing model, while offering 15mm more rear legroom.

Apart from its more “elegant” design, Toyota’s Ukrainian division claims the new Camry/Aurion offers more interior space and comfort, and is among the quietest models in its class.

It said a unique JBL 10-speaker touch-screen multimedia system will also be fitted, along with heated rear seats, manually operated rear side sunblinds, a power-operated rear sunblind and a new climate control system that purifies and moisturises cabin air.

Other high-end features fitted to the Ukrainian-spec Camry/Aurion include nine airbags (including rear-side airbags), adaptive headlights (AFS), a rear-view camera and a new electro-hydraulic power steering system that brings with it an automatic hands-free parallel parking system.

The next model cannot come soon enough for Toyota Australia, with Aurion sales down 28.6 per cent (or 2021 vehicles) to July this year, when Toyota sold just 5051 examples for an 11.6 per cent share of Australia’s mainstream large car segment.

During the same period, Holden sold 24,583 Commodore sedans and wagons (down 8.6 per cent) for a 56.4 per cent share, while Ford sold 10,918 Falcon sedans (down 40.5 per cent) for a 25 per cent slice.

Despite a 23.8 per cent sales decline this year, Toyota sold 10,278 Camry sedans for a dominant 32.1 per cent share of the mainstream medium vehicle segment – more than double the number of new Aurion customers.

So far this year the under-$70,000 large car segment is down 22.9 per cent, but with 43,590 total sales it remains larger than the under-$60,000 medium car segment at 32,031 (down 10.6 per cent).

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