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Tim O'Brien | Jun 3, 2008 | 43 Comments
 

The Insider—TMR's man in the know—has crawled in from his drive in the Aurion TRD. Here's what he had to say between mouthfuls of water.

Everybody, but everybody, knows that if you want a car to run forever, one you can’t kill, you buy a Toyota.

But, for driving enthusiasts, there has been a problem. Despite years of successful motorsport in rallying, CART racing in the US, and now in Formula 1, Toyota has all-but overlooked serious drivers in its model line up in Australia.

This has left a huge gap in the marque's range and also left showrooms without a ‘hero’ model to pull customers who value the driving experience through the door. Aside from the rare GT4 Celica, the mid-engined MR2 and the odd imported Supra, Australia’s number one brand has been all about family cars.

Until now.

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With the supercharged and deliciously swift Toyota TRD Aurion, all that has changed. And what we’ve got is a serious performance car with the security and bullet-proof engineering of the Toyota brand. What happy days we live in.

Of course, Toyota claims not to be targeting the HSV and FPV buyers with the TRD, but sure as eggs, it won’t mind if a few of them come across. If it’s a sure-footed executive express they’re looking to buy, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.

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Make no mistake, the handsome Aurion TRD is a fabulous car. And it’s fast. Thanks to 241kW and 400Nm of torque on tap, it bolts from the line like a startled matriarch. We don’t have the technology to accurately measure launch times, but 0-100km/h for the supercharged Aurion TRD is a claimed 6.1 seconds. In anyone’s language, getting into the ‘sixes’ is far from shabby.

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Importantly, when you sink the slipper at any speed, throttle response (and kickdown) is instantaneous. Overtaking, or powering out of a tightening sweeper is a doddle. The extra power over the standard (but not underdone) Aurion comes from a Harrop-engineered blower sitting on top of the silky VVT 3.5 litre V6.

It is a tremendous unit – power builds and builds like a rising wave right across the rev range thanks to the characteristics of the four-lobe Eaton TVS (twin vortices system) design.

Mated to a six-speed auto, with sequential shifting mode, this Aurion is a seriously quick car.

But it’s not one for the inexperienced or unwary. With 400nm of torque belting through the front wheels, there’s a fair whack of torque steer under load. It’s easily managed, but you need a firm – and alert - grip on the wheel. At full power from the line, there’s some squirming as the TRD searches for traction.

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Any powerful car requires care and skill; the TRD is no different. And, unlike some turbo-fed contenders, the linear nature of the supercharger’s power delivery means that, in the TRD, you can get onto the sauce mid-corner without wondering whether you’re about to jump sideways. (But you’ll need some steering input to manage the torque.)

For the mixed driving conditions of Australian roads, the TRD’s suspension is also a revelation. Firm, but with initial compliance, it is unruffled by broken bitumen or poorly profiled back roads. The overall impression is one of superb balance: Toyota engineers have done a remarkable job.

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Understated but ‘tough’ externally, and sitting on fat charcoal-grey rims, the TRD is not for the boy racer, but for the Executive who loves to drive and values the totality of the package.

For the really keen drivers, a manual is not yet available. It must surely be a consideration for Toyota if it is to persist with the direction of the TRD. We’d also like a little more growl (make that ‘a lot’) when under the whip; perhaps Toyota is leaving that to the aftermarket.

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In shooting for the executive market, you would expect the TRD to be well-appointed. It doesn’t disappoint. Inside, leather abounds – it is a very nice place to be.

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trd_04Ours was kitted in burgundy leather and suede. Besides looking the goods, it was also comfortable and supportive in press-on driving. The brushed metal highlights and TRD appointments add a touch of class to a nicely-designed, functional cockpit.

So, well done Toyota Australia for the Aurion TRD.

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In a few million years, an astonished palaeontologist will dig a Toyota out of the ground. It will have survived the eons remarkably intact. If there is any fossil fuel left in the world, it’ll probably even start. That’s the admirable thing about a Toyota.

- The Insider

specs

Configuration: Supercharged transverse V6
Cylinder capacity: 3.5-litre (3456cc) alloy block and head
Valve system: Chain-driven DOHC, 24 valves
Supercharger: Belt-driven Eaton twin vortice supercharger
Maximum power: 241kW @ 6400rpm
Maximum torque: 400Nm @ 4000rpm
Fuel System: Multi-point electronic fuel injection
Compression ratio: 10.8:1
0 – 100 km/h 6.1 seconds
Transmission: 6 speed adaptive auto
Wheels: 19-inch alloys
Weight: 1615-1630kg
Consumption: 10.9L/100km
Fuel tank capacity: 70 litres
Prices: $56,990 (base), $61,500 (luxury)

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