Recommended Retail Price: 3500S $56,990 – 6sp Auto only, 3500SL $61,500 – 6sp Auto only.
Options Fitted: None fitted.
– by Paul Maric
While you were sleeping, Toyota engineers have developed what can only be described as a potent weapon. Think 3.5-litre V6, producing 204kW, then add a supercharger and boost that power figure to 241kW, the result is what Toyota like to call the TRD Aurion – where TRD stands for “Toyota Race Development.”
From the outside, the new TRD Aurion looks quick and dare I say it – angry. Sitting on dark grey 19” wheels with 30 profile tyres, the red brake calipers give onlookers an idea of what could happen when the loud pedal is pushed to the floor. Head to the rear and a massive set of rectangular exhaust outlets vent the engine’s soundtrack at high-revs.
Open the driver’s door and a stunning interior is displayed for all and sundry to see. Red seats, along with red alcantara trim hint at this vehicle’s race origins. Supportive seats, along with a red-trimmed steering wheel provide reassurance through corners, adding to the thrill of Toyota’s latest performance offering.
Under the bonnet a supercharged 3.5-litre V6 is used to produce 241kW and 400Nm of torque. Power is sent through a 6-speed automatic gearbox and the claimed 0-100 time is 6.1-seconds. The automatic gearbox is dull and lifeless in automatic mode, shifts are devastatingly slow for a “performance car,” making the manual tiptronic style mode the only viable option for enthusiastic driving. Even then, manual shifts are too slow and require lengthy forward thought, as it’s too easy to hit the fuel-cut at the red-line if you don’t shift early enough.
Unfortunately, such a brilliant looking package is let down – quite fundamentally – by some traits that are obvious to even the mildest of drivers. First and foremost is the fact that power is delivered through the front wheels. It’s nigh on impossible to send such a great amount of power through the front wheels without meeting repercussions such as torque steer and understeer.
Torque steer occurs in Front Wheel Drive cars when you jump on the throttle and the steering wheel darts in all directions in an attempt to maintain traction. Through corners, the front end feels light and uncontrolled when applying throttle, causing the traction control to step in and limit loss of traction. The suspension is also far too biased to normal driving, when you push deep into a corner, the car wallows and the size of the vehicle can really be felt.
The brakes on the other hand are phenomenal. The aftermarket stoppers pull the TRD Aurion up in remarkable speed and are resilient to fade – even after a torturous session through the mountains.
The TRD Aurion is available in two grades – 3500S and 3500SL – priced at $56,990 and $61,500 respectively. Standard features include: 19” alloy wheels; unique TRD Aurion body kit; cruise control; central locking; air-conditioning; auto headlights; electric windows; 6-disc CD player; leather seat trim with alcantara and power driver’s seat.
Safety features include: Electronic Stability Control (ESP); ABS brakes; Brake Assist (BA); driver and front passenger airbags; side airbags and curtain airbags.
Toyota has missed the mark with the new TRD Aurion. It’s impossible to drive this car hard without fearing which direction the car will send you in. There is simply far too much power being pushed through the front wheels to make this car viable.
Toyota should have engineered an All Wheel Drive or Rear Wheel Drive package for this engine. Although the car looks stunning both inside and out, it is totally let down by a drive train which is far too difficult to manage. The TRD Aurion only just scraped through with three steering wheels out of five and that was because of the interior and exterior look.