Toyota looks to tomorrow
Thursday, 07 December 2006
• Howick and Pakuranga Times
ABOUT a million Toyotas – half of them used imports – have been registered in New Zealand since the brand’s arrival here 40 years ago. Of those just 1001 was the company’s Commodore-Falcon rival, Avalon.
Sportivo has sports suspension, a different radiator grille, spoilers, and side and rear skirts. Photos Toyota New Zealand. So it’d be fair to say that its foray into the hallowed “big Aussie sedan” market fell somewhat short of the sales success that distinguishes most Toyota products. Time to regroup, rethink and launch its second effort, the Aurion, optimistically named after the Greek word for ‘tomorrow’. Built near Melbourne and based closely on the Camry, with which it shares the production line, the front-wheel-drive Aurion claims more power and better fuel economy than its Australian and Japanese ‘big six’ family car competitors, although the differences are quite small. Developed largely by Toyota Australia, versions of the car are built elsewhere in Asia, including China, and exported to the Middle East as well as New Zealand, so it’s much more than just an effort to eat into Ford and Holden’s market share. And even Toyota doesn’t believe it’ll make serious inroads into the core buyers of big Aussie cars who will buy a lion or blue oval badge, no matter what.
But it sees plenty of opportunities to nibble at the edges – fleets for example – and to attract customers who want a larger car, but not necessarily an Australian one.
Sportivo and Grande (shown here) have 17-inch alloy wheels, the Touring has 16-inch alloys and the AT-X has 16-inch steels. Aurion uses a new 3.5-litre V6 producing 204kW of power at 6200rpm and 346Nm of torque at 4700rpm running on 95-octane petrol, although 91 can be used. It feeds to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual mode. The transmission uses artificial intelligence to adapt shift points to the driver’s style and road conditions. It’s the most powerful vehicle currently sold by Toyota in New Zealand and is sold in four versions – in ascending order, the AT-X, Sportivo SX6, Touring and Grande – with prices ranging from $41,990 to $55,850. Toyota quotes overall fuel consumption of 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres and the engine complies with the stringent Euro IV exhaust emission standards. Standard active and passive safety features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA), and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The company says traction and stability control make Aurion as good at towing as a large rear-drive car. It’s rated for 1600kg braked and 500kg unbraked. Toyota admits that Avalon’s styling let it down. “Once we got people to drive it, they realised it was a good car,” said senior general manager Alistair Davis. Unfortunately, too few got as far as the door. Aurion won’t suffer from the same showroom resistance; it’s a contemporary good-looker, available in a range of “hey look at me” colours. Standard equipment includes air conditioning with a pollen filter, (Touring and Grande models have climate control); power driver’s seat (and front passenger seat in Touring and Grande) with slide, recline, height and lumbar support adjustment; a tilt and telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; power windows and exterior mirrors with turning indicators; and remote central locking with security alarm. Sportivo SX6, Touring and Grande models have a multi-information system which can be adjusted by steering wheel controls. It includes information such as outside air temperature, average speed, fuel consumption and cruising range. Corner and rear parking sensors are standard on Touring and Grande. Grande also has rain-sensing windscreen wipers, headlight cleaners and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with auto levelling and an Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with swivelling low-beam lights which allow the driver to “see” around corners at night.