Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 2013 Review

Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 2013 Review

The Aurion is the car that almost bridges the gap between Toyota and Lexus. You get the same 200kW, 336Nm, 3.5-litre V6 that you’ll find in an RX350 and, while the interior is not quite Lexus standard, it’s perfectly acceptable (with a few minor foibles I’ll get to later).

toyota-aurion-sportivo-rqIt’s not rear-wheel drive, so in this segment you’ll have to look to a Falcon or Commodore to get your steering-on-the-throttle kicks (and even that’s been reigned in with the current traction control settings in most cars). Anyway, the Aurion is not

a diminished proposition with its front-wheel drive; on the contrary, it actually feels quite sporty and chuckable, despite the steering feeling a little dead in the centre.

toyota-aurion-sportivo-sThere’s an enormous amount of gusto and an angry, but well-dampened V6 note that will satisfy you on every overtaking manoeuvre, and the Aurion digs into the corners with its sports suspension. 0-100kph is in the low 7-second range.

toyota-aurion-sportivo-inside-fThis top-of-the-line Aurion is like a Camry that’s been to the gym, got its teeth whitened and slicked back its hair. You could go for the AT-X for $49,690 as opposed to the Sportivo ZR6 at $58,490, but then you might as well buy a Camry because it looks comparatively boring. Of course, the whole range has the V6, so if you want anonymity with your 200kW the AT-X will be fine. It’s not right, though, because 200kW deserves to be shown off with bulges and bodykits like the ZR6 has.

toyota-aurion-sportivo-seat-bYou might think that with a large V6 that it’s going to be thirsty. Well, yes and no. You can get it down to mid-9s in the litres per hundred kilometre readings, but you won’t. That’s because if you want to drive a car like you care about the rainforest, you won’t buy a 200kW V6. You buy a car like the Aurion because you don’t want to dawdle at the traffic lights, you’ve got places to go and/or things to tow.

toyota-aurion-sportivo-radioThe interior is resplendent with two-tone leather seats and door inserts, a leather steering wheel and a healthy dollop of brushed aluminium trim. Sporty drilled pedals sit beneath your soles and the seats are electronically adjustable with memory settings so you can keep the perfect driving position.

There’s a premium JBL surround sound system which will vibrate the whole car. Media and sat nav controls are available via a 7-inch touchscreen which doubles as the screen for the reversing camera. You can connect your phone or music play via Bluetooth or USB/Aux input.

toyota-aurion-jblKudos to Toyota for cramming in nine airbags, including driver’s knee. There’s the usual traction control and other systems to stop any kind of inadvertent loss of control, plus on the ZR6 you get BSM (Blind Spot Monitoring) which lets you know if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot when you’re changing lanes.

Smart beam headlights supposedly dip the high beams when you’re approaching another car or catching one up. I could get them to dip, but often they didn’t come back up again, which was frustrating on darker country roads. I ended up turning this feature off so that I could get back to the business of testing how the Aurion deals with twisting country roads. The answer is very well. The sports suspension gives it a flat ride with good turn in. The aforementioned slightly dead feeling when the steering is centred is fine for motorway cruising, but I would prefer something like the Mazda6’s sharp inputs for more enthusiastic driving.

A lot of attention has been paid by Toyota to making the cabin quieter by using double seals on the door, sound-deadening carpets and redirecting some of the airflow under the bonnet. I don’t have any specific measurements, but noise was never an issue in my test drive.

One passenger’s comment was “I didn’t like it when I got in, but as soon as we started driving it was really comfortable.” I think that sums it up. The Aurion has presence and stance and great competency on-road, but on both the inside and the outside it reminds me a bit of those ghetto blasters that could make your ears bleed, but tried a little too hard to be showy. They always had too many buttons that were laid out haphazardly and they felt a little disjointed. There’s no doubt this Aurion can perform, but a few cosmetic changes to the switchgear on the inside, and a bit more chrome on the outside would make this Aurion the perfect alternative to a Lexus.

Price: $58,490

Pros

  • Loads of grunt
  • Quiet and comfortable

Cons

  • Lacks a little steering feel
  • Dashboard layout starting to look dated

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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