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Toyota Aurion takes out coveted Best Cars award
Toyota’s front-wheel drive Aurion out-manoeuvres VE
6 Dec 2006
THE Toyota Aurion ATX has won the coveted best large car category in this year’s Australia Best Cars Awards, defeating the Ford Falcon BF MkII and billion-dollar VE Commodore.
The Aurion ATX ousted the Commodore Omega and base model Mitsubishi 380 for the final large cars gong.
Best Cars chief judge, Ernest Litera, said the judges looked at the entry models and the Commodore was a "little bit underdone" in several areas, including engine and the four-speed transmission.
"The person who comes in at the entry level in an Aurion, which is about $1500 cheaper than a Commodore or Falcon, is getting state-of-the-art V6 engnie, six-speed transmission, ABS and stability control, alloys and six airbags as standard," he said.
Of the Mitsubishi, Mr Latera said the 380 was ahead in its price category.
"The 380 is less than $30,000 and it gets a very strong rating on price," he said.
"It’s not a bad thing. There is a bit of stigma about the Mitsubishi name at the moment but in terms of engineering and what you get for your money it is quite good."Mr Latera said the awards were set up in a way to reinforce that the judges score all the volume sellers on the Australian market "and we do that because what we produce is a buyers guide or information".
The Aurion has already notched up several media awards, but the Best Cars award has some significance as it represents almost seven million motoring club members.
Best Cars are awarded by the country’s motoring clubs – the NRMA, RACV, RACT, RACQ, RAASA, RACWA and AANT.
A record 50 vehicles made the final cut in 12 different categories after the judges road-tested about 220 contenders over the past year.
Mr Litera described the Aurion as "the new cat that Toyota has set among the established pigeons".
"It’s a terrific well-rounded package of technology and refinement - Toyota has produced a big six that has managed to outstrip traditional rivals in the Australian market," he said.
Base model buyers especially, would benefit from life-saving technology, such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags.
From top: VW Polo TDI, Audi RS4 and Subaru Forester X.
Mr Litera said the high number of contenders was the result of the huge influx of diesel models and the ever increasing competitiveness of vehicle manufacturers. "Diesels have really come to the fore this year, with one of Europe’s leading brands, Volkswagen, winning awards for two diesel cars," he said.
"The Polo TDI was judged Australia’s best small car and the Jetta TDI took the honours in the best mid-size category over $28,000.
"The Polo is a very easy car to drive, but it’s still involving enough for those who like to enjoy the experience. Precise German design and engineering delivers top-class on-road ability and it comes with a reassuring four-star NCAP safety rating.
"Although the Jetta is not top of the class in the design and function department, there’s little to criticise either. The most crucial scoring areas of safety, environment and build-quality are all strong points for both Volkswagens." Mr Litera said Honda had brought a level of engineering sophistication to the mid-sized and people mover categories.
"The Civic VTi won the best mid-size car under $28,000 category, while the Odyssey took out the best people-mover title for the third year running due to its car-like ride and handling," he said.
"The winners of the two sports car categories were the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Audi RS4 quattro.
"The GTI created the ‘hot hatch’ class three decades ago and today’s model combines the original’s spirit with modern levels of comfort, safety and performance. It has won this spot for the second year running."Mr Litera said the Audi RS4 quattro had "clobbered the coupes".
"This car has relegated some legendary machines to secondary status thanks to its 4.2-litre V8 and massively-tyred wheels delivering power and grip. The RS4 is simply an amazing machine to drive," he said.
"Lexus scooped a handful of awards this year, taking home trophies for the Best Prestige, Luxury and Recreational 4WD categories, with the IS250, GS450h and RX350 respectively.
"The Lexus GS450h offers a glimpse into the future with hybrid technology that offers V8 performance levels with four-cylinder economy, low emissions and whisper quiet efficiency." The best recreational and best all-terrain 4WD categories were won by Subaru Forester X and Landrover Discovery 3 SE TDV6.
"Both vehicles provide a quality ride on or off-road. The Landrover has come up trumps for the second time running and is clearly at the high-quality end of the all-terrain 4WD market," he said.
Mr Litera said the beauty of Australia’s best cars, now in its seventh year, was a strong consumer focus providing new car buyers with the full scoring table on 220 vehicles.
"But unlike other awards programs, our assessment also includes input from car buyers on what areas are most important in each vehicle class, such as safety, fuel economy," he said. "This enables consumers to make a highly informed purchasing decision.
"The scoring system has been shaped to reflect the expectations of the car-buying public and rates vehicles on all-round ability in three broad areas value for money, design and function and on-road ability."
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