The word Aurion has the ancient Latin meaning of ‘first light’ or ‘tomorrow’ and Toyota Australia had the future in mind when it developed, produced and released its large car effort back in 2006. Based on Camry underpinnings and sheet metal but with a larger front and rear the Aurion was set to cut into the large sedan market dominated by the Falcon and the Commodore. Offered exclusively with a V6 powerplant the Aurion wasn’t optimally positioned for the current climate where smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles have rapidly gained in popularity. But Toyota is pushing on with the Aurion and the 2010 range has received a mid-life refresh. Car and SUV spent some time with the sports-focused Aurion variant the Sportivo to see what’s new and what lays ahead for this Aussie born battler.
The 2010 model year changes to the Aurion range are all appearance and equipment based with the vehicles’ mechanicals remaining the same. In terms of exterior looks the Sportivo has been sharpened up and the sporty persona maintained over its more conservative siblings. Frontal styling changes are the most obvious with a wider honeycomb grille and trapezoidal low air intake. Black plastic framed fog lamps also feature strongly as do new halogen headlamp lenses. At the rear new clear taillights are distinctive in their modern, after-market style. Rounding off the refreshed look are smart 17-inch split five-spoke rims. All up, the changes reinforce the Aurion’s athletic presence, and maintain its look of a steroid pumped Camry.
Inside, the Aurion’s instruments have been replaced for better clarity and a new audio system is included. The stereo is a major update and includes a six-disc CD changer, six-speakers, auxiliary and USB input jacks and a colour multi-function screen. The screen also doubles up as a handy reversing camera that helps the driver see past the Aurion’s high rear deck. Bluetooth phone integration is a timely addition and dual-zone climate control also makes the spec sheet. Elsewhere in the cabin a three-spoke leather steering wheel houses audio and information controls and Sportivo branding appears on door sill plates and on the cloth sports seats.
The Sportivo boasts a spacious cabin, it’s a notch smaller than the Commodore or Falcon but there is still ample space for all passengers. The silver and black plastic mix on the dashboard is basic and tidy in appearance and layout. There is also a real feeling of durability that will serve the Sportivo well on family hauling duty.
When it comes to the Aurion’s mechanicals nothing has been changed for the 2010 facelift. The same 3.5-litre V6 is hiding under the bonnet with output remaining at 204kW and torque at 236Nm. The six-cylinder delivers it’s ample power to the front wheels in a smooth linear fashion and will take the Sportivo to 100kph in the mid 7-second bracket. It’s a strong, free-revving unit that feels comfortable exploring the upper range of its limits while still returning an excellent 9.9l/100km fuel economy.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that offers up silky smooth changes. The gearbox is geared for luxury and although this is ideal while cruising, it detracts from the Aurion’s performance capabilities. A sequential-shift is on offer but it reacts leisurely and doesn’t encourage regular use. A more serious sports mode on the transmission would be a major benefit for the entire Aurion range, most of all the Sportivo.
When it comes to driving dynamics the Sportivo is a solid performer. Being a large front-wheel-drive vehicle there is an occasional hint of understeer when cornering at speed but it remains predictable and manageable. The limits of grip are very high in the dry, in wetter conditions being too heavy with the gas pedal will result in some tyre spin before the electronic safety systems pull it into line.
The Sportivo receives special sports suspension treatment but the ride isn’t overly firm. In fact, it’s very compliant and will keep passengers comfortable even on lengthy journeys. Little in the way on wind or road noise enters the cabin and the engine only intrudes when invited, by working it hard. All up, the Sportivo offers a very good compromise between sports intent and general refinement.
Safety credentials check out well with ABS, stability and traction control, six airbags and active head restraints all standard fare.
The bottom line is that the Aurion Sportivo has a lot to offer those in the market for a large sedan. It’s priced around $5k cheaper than it’s Ford/Holden opposite numbers and it comes with a good equipment level and solid safety features. In terms of driver satisfaction the Sportivo has the powerful engine and the aggressive styling but compromises have been made with the transmission and ride quality making it more a luxury cruiser than a true sports sedan. This leaves the Sportivo as a great all-rounder but if you’re looking for a hard performing large-sedan the sports-focused models at Ford and Holden may suit better. If you’d rather hedge your bets somewhere between refinement and performance then the Aurion could be just the right measure for you, not tomorrow but right now.
What we like:
- Great all round performance
- Facelift updates look sharp
- Powerful V6 motor
What we don’t like:
- Slow shifting auto box
- Could be more sports focussed
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Toyota Aurion Sportivo (2010) – Specifications
V6, 24 Valve, DOHC, Chain Drive with Dual VVT-i
Capacity 3456 cc
Engine Size 3.5 litre
Bore 94.0 mm
Stroke 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio 10.8 1
Number of Cylinders 6
Number of Valves 24
Max. Power 204 kW
Max. Power Max. 6200 rpm
Max. Torque 346 Nm
Max. Torque Max. 4700 rpm
Induction Type Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
Fuel Type Petrol
Tank Capacity 70 Litres
Octane Rating 91 Unleaded
Emission Control Standard Euro IV
Fuel Consumption – ADR 81/01 (Combined) 9.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions – ADR 81/01 233 g/km
Front MacPherson struts and stabiliser bar; Front suspension tower brace
Rear Dual link MacPherson strutswith sports coil springs, sports gas/hydraulic shock absorbers with rebound spring and solid stabiliser bar
Description Engine speed sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering
Ratio Max. 16.0
Min. Turning Circle (Tyre) 11 m
Turns Lock to Lock 3.2
Overall Length 4825 mm
Overall Width 1820 mm
Overall Height – Max. 1470 mm
Wheelbase 2775 mm
Track – Front 1575 mm
Track – Rear 1565 mm
Overhang – Front 965 mm
Overhang – Rear 1085 mm
Minimum Running Ground Clearance 150 mm
Interior Length 2130 mm
Interior Width 1525 mm
Interior Height 1200 mm
Seating Capacity 5
Luggage Capacity (VDA) 504 L
Gross Vehicle Weight 2110 kg
Kerb Weight 1585-1590 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Braked 1600 kg
Max. Towing Capacity Unbraked 500 kg
Max. Download on Towball 160 kg