Toyota - Aurion
Before the unveiling of the Toyota Aurion (pronounced or-ree-on) at the Melbourne Motor Show 2006, Toyota Motor Corporation Australia had the large car Toyota Avalon being produced at its Altona plant in Melbourne. This car had been produced at the plant from 2000 and had taken much of its basic design and mechanical features at the time from an 8 year old Toyota Avalon model in the United States. The Avalon was built at Altona alongside the Toyota Camry and was offered as a larger, more upmarket offering than the Camry. The original sales predictions were not met with the Toyota Avalon and the car failed to challenge rivals Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, primarily because of the outdated design. Many buyers opted for the Camry V6 with the same engine as the Avalon.
Toyota, realising that buyers wanted something more modern, began working on the Aurion in 2003 when Nick Hogios left Ford Australia and joined Toyota Australia, working in Japan on the design of the Aurion. Nick Hogios became the chief designer of the car.
Paul Beranger was the head of Toyota Styling Australia which was a team that had regular discussions with Toyota Japan to come to decisions about how the car would turn out. Aurion, being the first time that Toyota Australia designed their own car, took Toyota Styling Australia some time to convince Toyota Japan that Toyota Australia could design and make the Aurion. Successful Toyota Styling Australia designs, notably the Sportivo Concept coupe and X-Runner ute helped convince Toyota Japan to allow Toyota Australia to undertake the project.
On Thursday, February 9 2006, Toyota Australia unveiled the Toyota Aurion alongside the Toyota Aurion Sportivo concept at the Melbourne Motor Show at an official press release.
The standard Toyota Aurion is expected to be on sale at Toyota dealerships by August, 2006. The Toyota Aurion Sportivo is expected to arrive in early 2007.
There are currently two known separate exterior designs for the Toyota Aurion, one with upmarket European style, the standard Toyota Aurion and one with a more aggressive, sport-oriented style, the Sportivo version of the Toyota Aurion. Toyota claims that the Toyota Aurion is designed to Australian tastes.
The exterior centre section of the Toyota Aurion, which are the doors, side windows, windscreen and roof panels are identical to the 6th generation Toyota Camry. This is to reduce costs and result in simplified manufacturing processes. However, the other panels in the Toyota Aurion are unique from the Toyota Camry.
The standard Toyota Aurion features an European exterior style, with understated looks and dashings of chrome around the grille, door handles, along the doors, on the rear part of the boot and above the foglights. This model will have 16-inch alloy wheels. In line with many recent Toyota models, the badge for this Toyota Aurion is at the top of the grille. The standard Toyota Aurion is designed to have an upmarket, luxury exterior style.
The Toyota Aurion Sportivo is currently only a concept, but the concept will have styling similar to the production model. Rather than have an upmarket luxury exterior, the Sportivo model is designed to have an aggressive, more sport-oriented style. This means sport 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, different headlight and taillight designs, a sports bodykit, a different grille as well as other different exterior features.
Not much is currently known about the interior design of the Toyota Aurion, as both the standard model of the Toyota Aurion and the Toyota Aurion Sportivo concept that have been on show at the 2006 Melbourne Motor Show have their windows tinted a very dark black.
However, because the Toyota Aurion is to be built alongside the Camry, it is believed that the Aurion have a some shared interior features with the Camry, yet will have some unique features to put it at a more upmarket level than the Camry.
To reflect the luxury market that the Toyota Aurion is pitched to, it is likely that the Toyota Aurion will feature a luxury interior with features such as leather seats and satellite navigation.
It is known that the Toyota Aurion will feature a version of the 2GR-FE V6 engine that will power the American 6th generation Toyota Camry. The exact specifications of this engine are unknown, but it is known that the engine is 3.5L in capacity with close to 200kW in power and will have over 300Nm of torque. This places it with more power than the current BF-series Ford Fairmont with the Barra 190 engine and the current VZ-series Holden Berlina with GM's Alloytec V6 engine, which are the car's two direct competitors.
The Toyota Aurion shares the same basic platform and underpinnings as the 6th generation Toyota Camry, meaning that like the Toyota Camry, the Toyota Aurion will be a front-engined, front wheel drive vehicle.
Unlikely to provide a V8 engine for the Toyota Aurion, Toyota showed a supercharged version of the 2GR-FE V6 engine alongside the Toyota Aurion at the 2006 Melbourne Motor Show. This engine will be fitted into performance models of the Toyota Aurion and will provide more power and more torque than the basic models.
The main competitors for the Toyota Aurion will be V6 luxury counterparts at Holden and Ford, which are the Holden Berlina and Ford Fairmont. Based on this, the base price for the Toyota Aurion will likely be in the low to middle $30,000 price range. The Mitsubishi 380 may also be an indirect competitor to the Toyota Aurion.
To distinguish the Toyota Camry from the Toyota Aurion, the Toyota Aurion will be more expensive than the Toyota Camry and sold with a V6 engine only. The upcoming Toyota Camry will drop all V6 variants and sell 4-cylinder variants only.
The Toyota Aurion is also an export car, which is destined for exporting to places such as the Middle East, Asia and China badged as a luxury Toyota Camry. The Toyota Aurion may even be produced within China for domestic sales.
Toyota Australia plans for the Toyota Aurion together with the 6th generation Toyota Camry to push up production from 110,000 units to 140,000 units at Toyota's Altona plant in Victoria.
The Toyota Aurion will be mated to either a 5-speed automatic transmission or 6-speed manual transmission depending on the specific model.
Toyota dropped the Toyota Avalon tag for their new large car as it has gained a reputation to be an uninspiring car. Toyota, desiring to remove that status, created the Toyota Aurion name to create a fresh start.
The Toyota Aurion means 'tomorrow' in Ancient Greek and Aurora means 'the dawn' in Latin. This gives implications of a completely new car and fits in with Toyota's latest TV advertising campaign, 'Can't wait for tomorrow'.
The Toyota Aurion has been criticised for looking too similar to the BA-series Ford Falcon. This may not be a coincidence as Nick Hogios, chief designer of the Toyota Aurion previously worked on designing the XR performance models of the BA-series Ford Falcon at Ford Australia. Hogios claims that the Toyota Aurion follows the traits of current Australian styling, with a tendency to look towards European designs for inspiration. He denies that the car resembles the BA-series Ford Falcon in any way.
Toyota Australia has also been criticised for unveiling the car so many months before the launch. Some motor experts say that this is a strategy used to win over future customers and also to hurt the sales of the upcoming VE-series Holden Commodore and the current Mitsubishi 380.