|Also called||Toyota Camry|
|Assembly||Altona, Victoria, Australia|
Santa Rosa, Philippines
Shah Alam, Malaysia
|Body style(s)||4-door sedan|
|Engine(s)||2.0 L 1AZ-FE I4|
2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4
3.5 L 2GR-FE V6
3.5 L 2GR-FZE V6S
|Transmission(s)||4-speed U241E automatic|
5-speed U250E automatic
6-speed U660E automatic
|Wheelbase||2775 mm (109.3 in)|
|Length||4825 mm (190 in)|
|Width||1820 mm (71.7 in)|
|Height||1470 mm (57.9 in)|
|Curb weight||1590 kg (3505 lb)–1630 kg (3594 lb)|
The Toyota Aurion, (pronounced or-ree-on) is a mid-size car produced by Toyota in Australia and parts of Asia since 2006. The Aurion is essentially a seventh generation Toyota Camry with revised front- and rear-end treatment, along with changes to the interior. The Camry-based Aurion is also sold in the majority of East and Southeast Asia as the Toyota Camry, with the original version of the Camry sold alongside the Aurion in the Middle East and Australasia. In the previous two markets, the car replaces the Avalon model, which can trace its roots back to the early 1990s.
In the Middle Eastern and Australasian regions, to further differentiate the Aurion from its Camry sibling, Toyota equips the former exclusively with a 3.5 litre V6 engine. With the Toyota Camry however, only the 2.4 litre four-cylinder model is offered. Previously in these markets, prior to the introduction of the seventh generation Camry, Toyota had offered both four- and a six-cylinder powerplants. Along with the naturally-aspirated version, Toyota also produces an Australia-only supercharged TRD Aurion. Tuned by Toyota Racing Development (TRD), this performance variant is claimed to be the world's most powerful front-wheel drive car.
The powertrains used in the Asian specification Camry vary slightly from those of the Aurion. As well as the 3.5 litre V6, two four-cylinder engines are offered in either 2.0 litre or a 2.4 litre form. These engines are mated with a six-, four- and five-speed automatic transmissions respectively.
History of development
Before the official unveiling of the Toyota Aurion at the 2006 Melbourne International Motor Show, Toyota Australia manufactured the full-size Avalon model at its Altona plant in Melbourne. Production of the Avalon had commenced in 2000, and had taken much of its basic design and mechanical features from the then five-year-old Avalon model designed in the United States. The Avalon was offered as a larger, more upmarket car than the Toyota Camry, which it was built alongside. The original sales predictions were not met with the Avalon, failing to challenge rivals such as the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon. The reasoning behind this translated back to the outdated design and lack of dynamic ability. In its best year, the Avalon only managed to reach half of Toyota's sales target, with many potential buyers opting for the similarly sized V6 Camry, featuring the same engine as the Avalon.
Toyota, discovering that the Australian public wanted something that was Australian and modern, began working on the Aurion in 2003. The development kick-started when Nick Hogios left Ford Australia and joined Toyota, working in Japan on the design of the Aurion. Hogios became the chief designer of the car. He previously worked on designing the XR performance models of the Ford BA Falcon, and claims that the Aurion follows the traits of current Australian styling, with a tendency to look towards European designs for inspiration. The Aurion is marketed as a new model designed for Australians.
Paul Beranger was the head of Toyota Styling Australia, which was a team that had regular discussions with Toyota Japan, to come to decisions about how the car would turn out. Aurion, being the first time that Toyota Australia designed their own car, took Toyota Styling Australia some time to convince Toyota Japan that the Australian division could indeed design and make the Aurion. Successful concept designs, notably the Sportivo Coupe and Avalon X-Runner coupé utility helped convince Toyota Japan to allow the project to be undertaken.
On 9 February 2006 Toyota Australia unveiled the Aurion alongside the Aurion Sportivo concept at the Melbourne International Motor Show at an official press release. Toyota dropped the Avalon tag for their new large car, as it had gained a reputation to be an uninspiring car, both in flesh and to drive. Toyota made use of the Aurion name to give the car a fresh start. Aurion means "tomorrow" in Ancient Greek, and Aurora translates to "the dawn" in Latin. This gives implications of a completely new car and ties in with Toyota's advertising slogan, "Can't wait for tomorrow". The name was chosen after consumer research on more than 30 potential names.
With the development of the Aurion, designers produced two separate philosophies, each pitched at a specific niche in the market sector. The base model AT-X, and luxury Prodigy and Presara variants employ the comfort design, with the more aggressive sports-oriented style found on the Sportivo versions. In addition to this, there are also two TRD high performance versions, which advance further on the sports-orientated theme.
Toyota claims that the Aurion is designed to Australian tastes, although it has been designed with markets such as Asia in mind. In addition, the Aurion, like other recent Toyota vehicles, was designed with Toyota's "vibrant clarity" design language. According to chief designer Nick Hogios, the Toyota Aurion was designed with a "vibrant clarity" theory known as "perfect imbalance". This involved body features that act as a counter-point to other body features. Examples of this include intersecting concave and convex surfaces and vertical sculpted features on the front fascia, which are balanced by horizontal headlamps.
Aurion takes its doors, side windows, windscreen and roof panels from the seventh generation Toyota Camry. The reasoning behind this strategy was to reduce costs, allow the car to be built alongside the Camry, allowing for a simplified manufacturing process. However, the other panels in the Aurion are unique from the Camry. The two vehicles also share a common interior design. This again comes back to cost, and simplified production. To distance the Aurion away from its Camry stable mate, a different dashboard layout, steering wheel, and driving gauges are implemented.
In its most basic form, the Aurion features a European exterior style, with understated looks and minimalistic chrome highlights around the grille and along the doors. For certain markets like China, where Toyota sits right below Mercedes-Benz, as a luxury brand, it is important for the Aurion to exemplify the traits of such vehicles. Unlike the luxury Aurions, the Sportivo variants are designed to have an aggressive, more sports-oriented style. To meet this requirement, the Sportivo variants feature unique 17 inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, different headlight and taillight designs, and a sports body kit. Both the Sportivo SX6 and ZR6 have identical exterior designs, differing only by their internal features and pricing. The high-performance TRD models offer a similar sports-oriented design, but are distinguishable by the use of unique body parts. These include a redesigned Formula One-inspired front bumper, with integrated foglamps, a unique rear bumper with fixed tailpipes.
Safety was a key aspect in the development of the Aurion. All safety features are standard across the entire range and there are no optional safety devices. Features such as dual front, side and curtain airbags, traction control, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and Vehicle Stability Control come standard. In recent tests conducted by ANCAP, the base model scored a four-star rating, with 30.03 out of 37 points. Toyota caused controversy by not providing a third test vehicle for ANCAP to use for the optional "side-pole impact test". This third and optional test, allows tested vehicles to be eligible for a five star rating if the initial score is high enough. Toyota cited the additional expense of AU$75,000–$100,000 including the car as being unjustifiable, and that they did not agree with the nature of the pole test. The scores given without the optional test indicate that the maximum two points that could have been earned would have being slightly less than needed to give the Aurion a five star rating anyway.
Engine and mechanicals
The Aurion employs a version of Toyota's 2GR-FE V6 engine that also powers the seventh generation Toyota Camry outside of Australia. With an engine displacement of 3.5 litres, the 2GR-FE engine is capable of outputting 200 kilowatts (268 hp) of power and 336 newton metres (248 ft·lbf) of torque. Acceleration figures for the car have been recorded at 7.4 seconds for the standard 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) test, and Toyota claims a top speed of 228 km/h (141 mph). These figures make the Aurion more powerful than Ford's BF Falcon and the VE Commodore by Holden. As well as being the most powerful of the three, the Aurion also takes home the title of being the most fuel efficient, with consumption rated at 9.9 L/100 km (24 mpg U.S.). The Euro IV compliant 2GR-FE dual VVT-i engine is coupled to Toyota's six-speed U660E automatic transmission. This same transmission is also utilised by the supercharged TRD variants. These produce 241 kilowatts (323 hp) and 400 newton metres (295 ft·lbf) of power and torque respectively, and have a combined fuel economy of 10.9 L/100 km (22 mpg U.S.).
In some Asian countries where the Aurion is sold as the Toyota Camry, both 2.0 and 2.4 litre powerplants are offered. The naturally-aspirated 3.5 litre engine is also available in some of these markets. The 2.0 litre 1AZ-FE straight-four has a maximum output of 108 kilowatts (145 hp) of power and 190 newton metres (140 lb·ft) of torque. These figures rise to 123 kilowatts (165 hp) and 224 newton metres (165 lb·ft) when the 2.4 litre 2AZ-FE unit is fitted. Of the two four-cylinder motors, the latter is united with Toyota's five-speed U250E automatic, with the U241E four-speed unit reserved for the 2.0 litre model.. In Thailand and Indonesia, the V6 engine is tuned to a more powerful 207 kilowatts (278 hp) and 342 newton metres (252 lb·ft) of torque. At the same time weight is decreased; hence the top speed is increased to 240 kilometres per hour (150 mph) and accelerates to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds.
|2.0 L 1AZ-FE I4||108 kW (145 hp)||190 N·m (140 lb·ft)||4-speed U241E automatic|
|2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4||123 kW (165 hp)||224 N·m (165 lb·ft)||5-speed U250E automatic|
|3.5 L 2GR-FE V6||200 kW (270 hp)||336 N·m (248 lb·ft)||6-speed U660E automatic|
|3.5 L 2GR-FZE supercharged V6||241 kW (323 hp)||400 N·m (300 lb·ft)|
Market, reception and exports
Toyota launched the Aurion in Australasia, where it competes with the rear-wheel-drive Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, and the front-wheel drive Mitsubishi 380. The TRD variants are pitched to compete with the Subaru Liberty GT and Mazda 6 MPS. Since its introduction, the Aurion has received numerous awards and positive reviews. In particular, the car has being praised for its good performance mated with comparatively low fuel consumption, and the inclusion of safety and comfort featues that are optional on competitor vehicles.
Prior to its introduction, a target of 24,000 annualised sales were predicted for the Australian market, double that of the Avalon’s eventual sales rate. A further 8,000 vehicles were forecast to be sent abroad to the Middle East and New Zealand. Starting from 2007, Toyota received a contract to deliver 10,000 export Aurions to the Middle East.
Toyota also manufactures and markets the Aurion in parts of East and Southeast Asia, where it is marketed under the Toyota Camry branding. This model gets a redesigned grille and are marketed under different trim levels to their Australasian counterparts. Although these vary from country to country, the range is comprised of the following models in some markets: 2.0 G, 2.0 E, 2.4 G, 2.4 E, 2.4 Sportivo, 2.4 V, 3.5 V, and 3.5 Q. The decimal in the nomenclature denotes the engine displacement, with the letter representing the level of luxury, which are similar to those of the Aurion Prodigy and Presara.
Marketed primarily towards fleets buyers, the entry-level AT-X features air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, among others. Overall, the AT-X offers more standard features than the rival Holden Commodore Omega, and undercuts the Commodore's fuel consumption by 9 percent. Interestingly, the Aurion took home the Australia's Best Large Car award in 2006 and 2007 over the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, the usual favourites and did so again in 2007. Judges described the Aurion as "...a terrific well-rounded package of technology and refinement. Toyota has produced a big six that has continued to outstrip traditional rivals in the Australian market."
The Aurion was also judged best large car in the drive Car of the Year competition for both 2006 and 2007. Judges in the 2007 competition stated "Its performance is quite astounding by class standards. The Aurion reached 100kmh from rest in 6.9 seconds, according to our satellite-assisted timing system. (Ford Falcon 7.3, Mitsubishi 7.8, and Commodore a sluggish 8.3). Who'd have thought a Toyota would out pace Australia's two top-selling six-cylinder sedans?" "The Aurion is well priced, has the most standard equipment (including a fully power adjustable driver's seat), a full complement of safety features (front, side and curtain airbags as well as stability control), and it also happens to have the briskest and most powerful six-cylinder engine among its peers. Despite this, it is also the most fuel efficient in its class. It was an easy winner."
The special edition Touring SE was launched in October 2007. The Touring SE is based on the AT-X, but is fitted with additional extras such as 16 inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and a leather steering wheel, 6-disc CD changer, dual zone climate control air-conditioning and selection lever. The Touring also features front and rear parking sensors, a trip computer and dual-zone air conditioning.
Available in two flavours for the Australian market, the Sportivo is the Aurion's sports orientated variant. The cheaper Sportivo SX6 features a specially designed sports body kit, sports suspension, and 17 inch alloy wheels, while the Sportivo ZR6 shares the same exterior look as the SX6. However it has a different suspension setup, parking sensors and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.
Building onto what the AT-X offers, the semi-luxury Prodigy, branded the Touring in New Zealand and the Middle East, features an electrically adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, parking sensors, wood grain interior and full leather upholstery. The Prodigy also sees a chrome grille, and 16 inch alloy wheels along with front fog lamps as standard.
To luxury-oriented Presara features a lavishly appointed interior with features such as electric seats with a two-memory setting, a moonroof, push-start engine operation, a reversing camera, and satellite navigation. The Presara, marketed under the Grande moniker in New Zealand and the Middle East, also features high-intensity discharge headlamps with auto levelling front lighting system. When reversing, the side mirrors face down towards the ground to assist the driver when parking in places where space is compromised.
Toyota unveiled the Aurion Sports Concept at the 2006 Australian International Motor Show, held in Sydney. The AU$8 million concept car was a styling exercise previewing the TRD Aurion, which was subsequently released in August 2007. TRD’s first experiment with supercharger technology was with the 2005 Camry V6 based, TS-01 concept which produced satisfying results.
The project's exterior design manager was Lee Moran, a former Ford Australia designer. He was chosen by Toyota Styling Australia chief Paul Berninger in 2005. One of Moran’s focuses was to reduce the size of the grille and add emphasis to the front bumper line below it. This was done so the car had more of a Formula One oriented look. In the Toyota wind tunnel in Japan, the vehicle's drag coefficient was confirmed at 0.30, meaning that the car would operate better aerodynamically than its non-TRD variants. The TRD also features bold exterior additions that differentiate it with the standard Aurion range, such as exhaust pipes integrated into the bumper, tinted taillight lenses, and a unique bodykit. Along with the supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine outputting 241 kilowatts (323 hp) of power and 400 newton metres (295 ft·lbf) of torque, the TRD also incorporates an upgraded suspension system and tyres over the standard Aurion models to improve car handling.
Toyota Australia plans to sell 50–70 TRD Aurion units per month with the majority of the sales coming from Australia, with the range comprising of two variants, the 3500S and 3500SL. The former of the two features performance mufflers, 19 inch alloy wheels, red alcantara leather seats with black alcantara fabric bolsters and other high performance upgrades. The range-topping 3500SL adds clearance and reverse parking sensors, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, a colour-coded selection lever, and an eight-way adjustable driver's seat. Furthermore, the 3500SL gains an aluminium rear bumper reinforcement addition, and is the first production car in the world to use the Eaton twin-vortices supercharger. This substantially reduces engine noise while bringing gains to power and torque.
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