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Shush, can you hear that noise? Toyota's local flagship, the Aurion, has long been known for its silence and the latest model is quieter still, by about 10 per cent.
Of course detecting the difference on the road is subjective, but there is no doubt the Aurion is a serene carriage. Comparisons with its premium partner Lexus are valid.
The price has been capped at $50,000. Prices start at $36,490 for the AT-X (up $500), then comes the Prodigy at $41,490 (unchanged), the Presara at $49,990 (unchanged), the Sportivo SX6 at $40,990 (unchanged) and the Sportivo ZR6 at $47,990 (up $4500 to cover equipment similar to the Presara).
This more muted Aurion is well packaged for the price and has an impressive list of safety features, plenty of power and a smooth six-speed automatic transmission.
Additional features on the AT-X include a driver's knee airbag, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, audio display, a split rear seat and a full-sized alloy spare wheel. The Presara adds blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam switching and a JBL digital audio.
Output from the 3.5-litre V6 engine is unchanged at 200kW and 336Nm, but a taller final drive accompanies the six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission. This improves fuel efficiency by 6 per cent to 9.3 litres/100k on the combine cycle, and exhaust emissions are down by 8 per cent.
But it is up against the shift away from large cars and, on the road, still needs a second glance to pick it from a Camry. Toyota argues it is not simply a V6 version of the Camry, although both share the same platform and cabin and, apart from the grille and bumpers, have similar styling.
Rear seat comfort gets a boost with new cushions and seat backs and more head and legroom. Fit and finish are impressive with quality seat trim and a stitched leather look on the dash.
The dash layout is clean and clear with large and legible main dials, logical steering wheel buttons and a 1990s cruise control stalk that remains a lesson in simplicity and finger-tip touch. Small but effective changes include a lower load lip for the boot, more storage in the centre console and a 60:40 split folding rear seat back rest now on all models.
Inside the Aurion feels more comfortable and secure and although still short of an enthusiast's choice, it is more involving to drive with an improved driving position, tighter and more confident handling and better steering and brake pedal feedback.
The front seats are taller and wider, with more back and lower body support, the steering column has a more natural angle and the relationship between the driver's seat and the accelerator has improved.
The engine is punchy, silky smooth and quiet with just enough exhaust note filtering through to reflect its V6 status. And it is complemented by the seamless and intuitive six-speed automatic. However the inherent tug of 200kW driving the front wheels remains as does the irksome foot-operated parking brake remains.
Lighter and slightly larger, but with a similar silhouette to its predecessor, the focus in the 2012 Aurion is on improving comfort and interior space, reducing fuel use, refining the ride, sharpening the handling and fine-tuning the steering and brakes.
|AT-X||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$6,000 – 9,240||2012 Toyota Aurion 2012 AT-X Pricing and Specs|
|Presara||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$10,000 – 15,070||2012 Toyota Aurion 2012 Presara Pricing and Specs|
|Prodigy||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,000 – 12,430||2012 Toyota Aurion 2012 Prodigy Pricing and Specs|
|Sportivo SX6||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$6,700 – 10,340||2012 Toyota Aurion 2012 Sportivo SX6 Pricing and Specs|
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