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First drive: Toyota blows sport into Aurion
Toyota puts its performance cards on the table with the supercharged TRD Aurion
23 Aug 2007
FIVE years in the making, the most powerful, and most expensive, new Toyota ever seen in Australia is a reality - almost six months after the Japanese giant’s Toyota Racing Development brand was trumpeted at the Melbourne show in March.
Delayed by a longer than expected development quest for meaningful and reliable performance gains over the Camry-based large-car upon which it is based, the supercharged TRD Aurion sedan is the first model from Toyota’s ambitious new special vehicle division in Australia - the only nation in which TRD now exists as a separate vehicle brand under Toyota.
Late it may be, but slow the TRD Aurion is not. Unlike Ford and Holden, Toyota isn’t shy about revealing performance figures for its homegrown sports sedan, which exceeds Toyota’s own target outputs of 235kW/395Nm by delivering 241kW at 6500rpm (a 20 per cent increase) and a healthy 400Nm of torque from a similarly peaky 4000rpm on 98-octane premium unleaded fuel.
Toyota says more than 300Nm of torque is available between 1250rpm and redline, and that at 1800rpm the TRD engine matches the naturally-aspirated Aurion's 336Nm torque peak.
That’s 37kW and 64Nm up on the 204kW at 6200rpm and 336Nm at 4700rpm outputs delivered by the regular Aurion’s 3.5-litre DOHC alloy V6 on PULP (200kW on ULP), thanks to a new four-lobe Eaton TVS (Twin Vortices Series) supercharger, which makes its world production-car debut in the TRD Aurion.
That makes TRD Aurion the world's most powerful front-drive model and the most powerful six-cylinder engine in its class, but with just 17Nm more peak torque than a garden-variety Falcon, the numbers fall short of the least expensive locally-built performance car: Ford’s Falcon XR6 Turbo, which produces 245kW/480Nm.
With at least 100kg less to cart around, however, the front-wheel drive Toyota's claimed performance figures are just as quick as those recorded by Ford's premium Falcons.
An official 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.09 seconds (1.3 seconds better than the base Aurion AT-X, which claims 7.4 seconds) and a standing 400-metre sprint time of 14.2 seconds puts the TRD Aurion in the same performance ballpark as the rear-drive XR6T, XR8 and even FPV’s GT - and hot on the heels of Holden’s 6.0-litre V8-powered SS models. Toyota engineers say the TRD Aurion laps the Phillip Island circuit about 12 seconds quicker than the regular Aurion, in 1:59.
Official ADR 81/01 fuel consumption rises just one litre per 100km, from 9.9 to 10.9L/100km, while CO2 exhaust emissions rise to 257g/km, but the 2GR-FE 60-degree V6 still qualifies as Euro IV emissions-compliant.
What’s more, Toyota claims the six-speed auto-only TRD races on to a top speed of no less than 258km/h – or at least it would if it wasn't electronically limited to 250km/h.
Equally European-influenced are the model variant names – 3500S (for Supercharged or Sport) and 3500SL (for Sport Luxury) – which come with pricetags that are closer to HSV/FPV than SS/XR territory.
TRD Aurion pricing opens $7000 above the most expensive Aurion (the $49,990 Presara) and $14,500 above the priciest Aurion Sportivo (the $42,500 ZR6) – at $56,990 for the 3500S.
That makes the cheapest TRD $14,000 more expensive than the XR6T ($42,990), $13,000 more than the XR8 ($43,990), $12,000 more than the Commodore SS ($44,990), $4500 more than the SS-V ($52,490) and $2000 less than the V8 Calais V-Series ($58,990).
Meantime, at no less than $61,500, the flagship 3500SL narrowly undercuts manual versions of the FPV Typhoon ($61,810), FPV GT ($62,210) and HSV ClubSport R8 ($62,890).
However, Toyota says the TRD Aurion is most likely to be shopped against performance versions of mid-sized Japanese sedans like the AWD Mazda6 MPS, which is priced substantially lower at $48,645, and the Subaru Libert GT, which sells for between $54,490 and $57,990 (wagon).
Entry-level European car customers are also potential TRD Aurion buyers, says Toyota. Positioned just under the luxury tax threshold, the cheapest TRD is the same price as compact luxury sedans like Audi’s A4 1.8T quattro, the base C200K version of Mercedes’ new C-class and the entry-level IS250 from Lexus, Toyota’s own luxury arm, and between BMW’s base 320i ($53,600) and the 320i Executive ($58,500).
As the halo variant Aurion needs to legitimately compete with Falcon and Commodore, the Australian-designed and developed and Altona-built TRD version comes with Toyota’s full three-year/100,000km new-car warranty and retains its donor car's 1600kg braked towing capacity.
Apart from the blown 241kW V6 and TRD sports exhaust system with integrated exhaust outlets, both versions feature firmer TRD-tuned suspension, bigger PBR performance brakes, dark grey metallic 19x8.0-inch ROH/TRD alloy wheels with 245/35ZR19 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres, rear underbody bracing, underbody aero enhancements, a TRD engine cover, red leather/suede sports seats and door trims, power driver’s seat adjustment, a red leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy pedals and TRD scuff plates.
Of course, there’s also the obligatory sports bodykit, designed by the Paul Beranger-led Toyota Style Australia and comprising TRD bumpers, side skirts, a rear spoiler, smoked headlights and foglights. Standard across the line-up is a multi-function trip computer, Lexus-style Optitron instruments and a six-CD stacker. As with many of its Euro, Japanese and Australian rivals, DataDot security identification is also applied.
For an extra $4500, the top-shelf 3500SL adds plum-coloured full leather interior trim, a dark grey/plum TRD leather-bound steering wheel and gearshift knob, piano-black door and dashboard highlights, TRD floor mats, Smart Entry and push-start TRD Smart Start, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and six-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat.
Silver-finish alloys, a grey rather than body-coloured grille surround and “unique 3500SL grade bumper highlights” differentiate the premium TRD model externally and, interestingly, the SL also scores “a rear bumper reinforcement to optimise body rigidity and improve handling” plus extra options including satellite-navigation.
Individually numbered TRD Aurion plaques grace the centre console and engine bay and the TRD branding package extends to an 'R'-pattern mesh radiator grille, a TRD rear garnish logo, a leather embossed TRD logo on the steering wheel and sea back, and 'R'-pattern Alcantara highlights.
Genuine Toyota options such a bonnet protector, headlight covers, boot liner and weather shields can also be had, and the Aurion’s fixed-price ($120) service plan applies for the first four services within the first three years or 60,000km.
The recommended service interval remains 15,000km and the standard Aurion's full compliment of twin front and side airbags, ABS and (non-switchable) traction/stability control carries over.
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