2012 TOYOTA AURION REVIEW
What’s hot: Value-for-money pricing that slots it inside the luxury-car tax threshold, long feature list, and build quality
What’s not: Foot-operated parking brake
X Factor: Lexus-like refinement and luxury without the Lexus price tag
Vehicle style: Large sedan
|Tested||Power/Torque||0-100km/h||Fuel Use (claimed)|
It had a crack with the Crown, then the badge-engineered Lexcen (a VN Commodore), and then the Avalon V6 – but none could challenge Holden and Ford for the loyalty of their traditional owners.
Then, in 2006, Toyota launched the Aurion. While basically a Camry with a V6 engine and not seriously challenging the ‘big two’ on the sales charts, it has carved itself a reasonable sales niche.
Last year, Toyota dealers found homes for just under 9000 Aurions. That figure was down on 2010 and way below the 40,000+ Commodores the General sold and the disappointing Falcon figure of just under 19,000 units.
With the 2012 Aurion, Toyota is shooting to lift its 12 percent share to 15 percent of a segment that has fallen from 136,280 units in 2006 when the first-generation Aurion was launched, to just 78,077 last year.
Quality: Toyota has put a lot of work into improving the interior of the new Aurion. And it shows.
In the top-spec Presara there’s quality leather trim, better-designed and executed seats, a classy dash, soft-touch plastics and a raft of electronic driver aids and information sources.
Like the car’s exterior, internal fit and finish is faultless and extremely precise.
Comfort: Seating front and rear is very comfortable. Front seat-backs are 30mm taller and 20mm has been added to the squab for better lower-body support (although not as heavily bolstered as the front seats in Sportivo models) and rear-seat passengers get more leg and head-room.
For the driver, the steering wheel has height and reach-adjustment; and, with plenty of seat adjustment, setting up the perfect driving position is a breeze.
Ergonomics also are excellent with all switches and controls placed within easy reach.
Equipment: The Presara’s equipment levels put it ahead of its Commodore and Falcon rivals. It includes dual-zone climate-control, USB and iPod connectivity, reversing camera, electric driver’s seat adjustment with lumbar support, a multi-function display, door-mirror indicators, 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-size alloy spare.
Also standard fare is leather upholstery, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and start, automatic wipers, self-dimming interior mirror, electric rear sunblind, driver’s seat and exterior mirror memory, electric adjustment for the front passenger seat, fog lights and a JBL premium audio system with digital radio.
Added to that in the range-topping Presara is satellite-navigation, a seven-inch screen and SUNA traffic updates, proximity display for the parking sensors, adaptive HID headlights with automatic high- beam control, blind-spot monitoring, USB input and iPod connectivity. woodgrain-effect interior trim and a two-way glass sunroof.
It’s an impressive list unmatched by the ‘big two’ large-car-segment players.
Storage: There’s 515litres of boot space enhanced by 60:40 split-folding rear seat-backs.
Inside there are big door pockets with bottle holders, a spacious glove box, centre-console bin, pockets in the backs of the front seats and cupholders front and rear.
Towing capacity is 1600kg with a braked trailer.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While punching out a respectable 200kW of power, the 3.5 litre V6's 336Nm of torque is anything but earth-shattering.
That said, power delivery is smooth and strong and the engine works brilliantly with the six-speed sequential sports-shifting automatic transmission. It’s untroubled by hills and will bolt ‘out and around’ when overtaking.
While the Sportivo models get steering-wheel-mounted paddles, sadly they are not included for the Presara.
The new electric rack-and-pinion power steering however is beautifully weighted.
Refinement: The first thing you notice when you set off in the Presara is how eerily quiet it is - it boasts Lexus levels of serene refinement.
The noticeably improved NVH performance has been achieved by better aerodynamics, more sound insulation, acoustic glass and even sound-absorbing carpet.
Suspension: The Anglesea Proving Ground in Victoria, its Fuji counterpart in Japan and thousands of kilometers in Australia and overseas were used to improve greatly the 2012 Aution’s underpinnings.
The front uses a MacPherson-stut set-up while the rear has a revised dual-link system.
For a larger car, it sits noticeably flat even during enthusiastic cornering and remains settled over rougher tarmac.
While the Sportivo’s set-up is firmer and sportier, the Presara’s softer suspension tuning is appropriate for a luxury cruiser.
The new Aurion – across the range – is much more of a driver’s car than its predecessor.
Braking: Braking performance is very good: up front are 296mm ventilated discs and 286mm solids at the rear. ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and other technologies complete the package.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety features: There are seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee), electronic stability control, traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist and three-point seatbelts.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Ford Falcon G6E ($46,735): A fine car, one of the best large cars you’ll find anywhere (at the money) and very good buying.
Though no match for the Falcon’s on-road dynamics, the Presara’s interior comfort, features list, fit and finish is superior. (see Falcon reviews)
Skoda Superb Elegance 191FSI ($56,490): Somewhat overlooked by buyers, the Skoda Superb is a real surprise for space, finish, comfort and on-road performance.
It’s now a bit dated compared to the fresh new Presara, and not as cosseting on road. (see Superb reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It has taken Toyota a few years to get its large-car offering right: we think the 2012 Aurion Presara now ticks most of the boxes for affordable premium large-car transport.
The Presara’s standard-inventory is matched by very few cars - certainly not those below its $49,990 price tag.
It is, without doubt, Lexus-like in terms of quality, trim and features but requires a much smaller cheque than its similar-sized Lexus cousins.
Toyota calls it “attainable luxury” - the Aurion Presara matches that claim.
- 2012 Aurion AT-X - $36,490
- 2012 Aurion Prodigy - $41,490
- 2012 Aurion Presara - $49,990
- 2012 Aurion Sportivo SX6 - $40,990
- 2012 Aurion Sportivo ZR6 - $47,990
Note: all prices are Manufacturer's List Price and exclude on-road costs.
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