Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota Aurion Sportivo with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
If you can tell the difference between a Camry and an Aurion then you're either a car geek like us or you work for Toyota. The Aurion is a more luxurious version of the Camry with a larger engine and with different looks – a twin but not quite an identical one. Even though they are the same size, the Aurion lives in the large car segment and counts the Holden Commodore as its closest rival, while the Camry competes in the mid-size segment and is up against the Mazda6 and Hyundai Sonata.
What's interesting is that even though the Aurion is a 'better' version of the Camry it's nowhere near as popular. Last year 27,654 Camrys were sold compared with only 4306 Aurions. Why? Most likely because the Camry costs less, has a less-thirsty four cylinder engine and that makes it more attractive to fleet operators... if you could call a Camry attractive.
Where does that leave the Aurion, well Toyota admits it's been built for businesses, but the thing is it won't be built for much longer. Both the Camry and Aurion are made in the same factory in Victoria, and Toyota will end production late in 2017.
So with what could well be the last Australian-made Aurion reviewed by us we have tested the grade which inhabits in the middle of the line-up – the Sportivo. It sits above the entry spec AT-X and under the range-topping Presara.
The second-generation Aurion went on sale in 2012 and then in 2015 the Camry and Aurion were updated. The Camry underwent a major re-engineering and styling change, while the Aurion received only minor tweaks which is why they now look more different from each other than ever. Another revision to the Aurion in 2016 brought new wheels and a new paint colour - Cherry – and more in-car technology.
Sportivo is Italian for 'sports' and so this one is designated as the moreDiffere athletic of the Aurions.
At 4855mm from end-to-end the Sportivo is 20mm longer than the Presara and AT-X because of its sports bumpers. The Camry is 4850mm long, while the Commodore SV6 measures 4966mm.
Sportivo is Italian for 'sports' and so this one is designated as the more athletic of the Aurions. You can tell it from the other two by its black honeycomb grille, black rear diffuser, boot lid spoiler and black alloy wheels.
It's a tough-looking sedan, but with its styling still stuck back in 2012, it's just not as sexy as the Commodore.
The Aurion Sportivo has the same 2775mm wheelbase as the Camry, that's great for the mid-sized segment and the cabin space it delivers, but not for the large car class where it's up against the Commodore's 2915mm wheelbase.
Storage throughout the Sportivo is vast and useful – 515 litres of boot space which is 20 litres more than the Commodore.
So while rear legroom is excellent and even at 191cm I can sit behind my driving position with 100mm to spare, it's doesn't offer the space of a scale like the Holden. Headroom in the Aurion is auditorium-like, but again can't match the Commodore, but really doesn't need to.
Storage throughout the Sportivo is vast and useful – 515 litres of boot space which is 20 litres more than the Commodore which loses space because it's a rear-wheel drive car.
The cup holder count sees two in the front and two in the back, while there's big bottle holders in the front doors and small three segment compartments for smaller bottle in the rear.
Price and features
The Aurion range kicks off at $36,490 (the top of the range Camry Atara SL petrol is $37,440) and tops out at $50,440 for the Presara. Our test Sportivo is $43,990. That's quite a lot of moolah for a fancy Camry, especially when you take into account that the Commodore SV6 is $39,490.
The Sportivo does bring some great standard features with it though. There's a reversing camera, sat nav, proximity unlocking, front and rear parking sensors, digital radio, sports suspension, the 18-inch alloys, the body kit, leather seats with snazzy red inserts and paddle shifters.
The sports suspension works small wonders for good handling too, while keeping the ride comfortable.
The update in 2016 swapped the 6.1-inch touchscreen for a 7-inch unit in the Sportivo, plus brought LEDs to the headlights and foglights, and a power adjustable driver's seat.
Engine and transmission
The Sportivo has the same 200kW/336Nm 3.5-litre V6 quad-cam engine as the other Aurions. It's a fantastic, responsive engine and is combined with a slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.
If you drive as Toyota would like you to, you should see the official combined average fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km. My more flamboyant style 13.1L/100km. Which is not bad seeing as I'm known for doubling the serving suggestion regularly.
Great engine. I've said that, right? The sports suspension works small wonders for good handling too, while keeping the ride comfortable.
The front-wheel drive set up let's things down a bit. There's so much power going to those wheels that the tyres can't hold on when you stab the accelerator from a standstill. Rear-wheel drive cars tend not to have this issue because of Year 9 physics – as you accelerate forwards more an increasing amount of force shifts to the rear end, effectively pushing it down and helping traction. Of course you can overcome this with a stack of grunt – that's a burnout.
Rear-wheel drive cars are considered more fun to drive because they feel better balanced and then there's oversteer. You can read all about the joys of front- and rear wheel drive here.
We took it through sections of our test loop which occasionally have us chickening out jumping on the brakes but the Sportivo held on confidently.
The Sportivo's heavy steering can also feel a tad numb, too, and making a connection with a vehicle without good feedback through the steering wheel is difficult. The steering wheel itself is the same flat dinner plate feeling one used in the Camry which doesn't fit my hands as well as other contoured and moulded ones.
There's ergonomic issues with the front seating, too. Those large front seats are so broad across the shoulders that there's not a lot of support being offered.
Aside from those interior niggles the Sportivo is rewarding to drive. We took it through sections of our test loop which occasionally have us chickening out jumping on the brakes but the Sportivo held on confidently.
The Aurion has a five-star ANCAP rating – it's the maximum score a car can get but it's now become the expectation for a new car. The Sportivo grade also brings blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts, too. You'll also find three top tether and two ISOFIX anchor points for child seats across the back row.
The Aurion Sportivo is covered by Toyota's three-year/100,000km warranty. Services must be done at nine-month/15,000km intervals with the first five services capped at $140 each in the first four years of 75,000km.