2007 TRD Aurion SL3500 Road Test

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2007 TRD Aurion SL3500 Road Test

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Options Fitted: Moonroof

- by Alborz Fallah

It was one of those days in Brisbane, the traffic on the centenary highway was backed up all the way to the Jindalee exit, Mogill road wasn't moving, Coronation drive and Milton road were both blocked, and I was suppose to pick up a car in an hour.

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With minutes to spare, I picked up the TRD and drove out of Toyota's QLD headquarters heading east. With Paul sharing his negative thoughts of the car that week, I had dumbed down my expectations and was ready for disappointment.

So much controversy has surrounded the TRD Aurion so far, with the very public recall after an engine failure (back on sale as of this week) not helping the brand one little bit.

So here I was, driving around in the brand spanking new TRD Aurion - the car that Toyota hopes will give the brand some much needed performance credibility – and not one single person cared!

Given the 60k+ price tag, the SL3500 has a lot of competition. But let me just get the TRD .vs. HSV .vs. FPV issue out of the way. TRD isn't competing with the HSV or FPV brands, it's more in competition with the Subaru Liberty GT.

Essentially, despite the size similarities with the HSV R8 and FPV Typhoon, TRD is going up against the Liberty GT, and I am not sure if it can win.

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Sitting inside the supercharged Aurion, it is hard to comprehend the price tag. Yes, the leather seats are nice and the steering wheel is a delight, but when everything comes together, the TRD Aurion feels like, well, just another Aurion.

Having stopped at the beginning of my usual test track at Mt Glorious, I got out to take a breather and also have a good look at the car.

A middle-aged man walked over, having noticed the TRD badging, and began drilling me as to why I had stuck TRD badges on a standard Aurion. I had a hard time explaining to him that this was actually a real TRD and not another Corolla with TRD badges, I finally gave up and opened the bonnet.

Staring at the engine, the red supercharger is more noticeable than Kevin Rudd at a strip club! It almost has its own gravitational pull, you can't help but to continuously stare at it.

The Supercharger is a four-lobe Eaton™ TVS which works extremely well with the Aurion engine, delivering power throughout the entire rev range. Power delivery is remarkably lag-free thanks to the supercharger being air pump driven (it spins independently of throttle position), meaning it's always ready to deliver instantaneous boost.

Comparing it to a turbocharged car, you'd need an anti-lag system fitted to keep the turbo spooling at all times (illegal – in QLD at least).

So how does it drive? It's a hard question to answer. As a day to day car, the TRD Aurion is more than adequate, it holds the road well thanks to the 245/35ZR19 wheels wrapped in Dunlop tyres, and it has incredible straight line acceleration.

This is partially thanks to the six-speed automatic transmission which works in perfect harmony with the supercharged engine. The gearbox is electronically controlled with a lock-up torque converter and artificial intelligence shift control.

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Highway driving is an absolute breeze, there is just so much instantly-available torque that overtaking can quickly become a bad habit. But we are not in America, and here in Australia, we like our corners.

Trying to accelerate out of a corner in the TRD requires every muscle in your arm to hold the steering wheel. The amount of torque going to the front-wheels is simply far too much. Nail the car in a straight line with a loose grip on the steering wheel, and you'll find yourself in a ditch.

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Still, I had not given up, sure this is not a mountain runner and power delivery is not as usable as I'd wished for, but given all that engineering, there must be something to it that has made Toyota put their credibility on the line.

In the process of trying to combat torque steer, I had neglected the incredibly well composed suspension. With limited body-roll, the Aurion has the right chassis for a performance car, but the power needs to go to anywhere but the front-only.

We decided given the car's establishing reputation, we should should take it down to the Gold Coast - Queensland's car-loving hotspot - to examine interest in the car.

On multiple occasions passing drivers gave us the thumbs up, which was interesting, given they usually show the other finger when we arrive in supercars.

This attracted the attention of the local Gold Coast constabulary who were keen to hand out a ticket for illegal modifications having noticed the supercharger - sorry officer, this one has passed all ADR rules.

The TRD is like a genius first-year foreign exchange student, it has the brains, the ability and the funds, but it fails to get the point across - for now. It is a reasonably good start for the TRD brand in Australia, and it's only bound to get better.