Some cars are so low profile that unless they were brought to your attention you wouldn’t know they exist.
For some reason manufacturers steer some of their products clear of the PR that surrounds so many other machines that, if the truth were known, probably can’t live up to the hype.
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One car that most certainly deserves a bit more recognition is the Toyota Aurion, a vehicle that to be honest I didn’t know anything about until I was invited to take it for a spin.
Toyota, quite rightly, bang the drum for its best known vehicles like the Land Cruiser, Camry, Corolla, Yaris and FJ Cruiser, to name a few that hog the limelight, but, for some reason, the Aurion has remained below the radar which is a shame because it is a really good car. It has been around since 2006 and has been successful in Australia and parts of Asia and although it is available here in the UAE you don’t see many of them around which is probably because, like me, not many people know much, if anything, about it.
The Aurion I test drove was the SE with a Toyota Racing Development sport pack which is essentially a few bits of body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels with TRD lug nuts, low profile tyres and lowered suspension to make it a little more racy and some cosmetic touches inside.
Thankfully, there were no garish racing stripes which are available with the TRD package but probably only appeal to boy-racers.
The TRD body kit suits this car and gives it an aggressive yet aerodynamic appearance. The front is muscular with deep air intakes and spot lights beneath the halogen headlight cluster, and a sculptured bonnet. The side view is sleek and the rear is compact with a spoiler and twin exhausts adding to the sporty persona.
Inside, the Aurion SE TRD we drove had cloth seats which was a little disappointing but not a major issue and the materials used are high quality.
There is an Optitron instrument cluster which uses LED technology to ensures maximum clarity while reducing eye fatigue. Apart from the speedo and rev counter there is also an eco-driving indicator which lights up when you are driving efficiently and a meter which measures average and current fuel consumption.
The infotainment system is adequate although the screen on the centre console could do with being a little bigger and there is a leather-wrapped multi-functional steering wheel.
Driver assists include ABS, cruise control, parking sensors and a rear view reversing camera. The design of the cabin is light and spacious and the seats, both in the front and the back, are comfortable with plenty of leg room.
So, it looks pretty good and the interior, whilst not super-luxurious is more than adequate and very comfortable but does it live up to its appearance which suggests this car is no slouch?
Well, it’s not fast enough to make your eyes water but at the same time the power that lurks beneath the bonnet in the form of a 3.5-litre V6 engine, is impressive.
It has 268bhp and torque of 336nm which is enough to take the Aurion from 0-100kmh in around 6.8 seconds.
This is a front wheel drive car, which sort of lets it down a bit, as rear-wheel drive cars tend to handle better, but the power is put down smoothly enough via an electronically controlled six-speed automatic and there are paddle-shifts if you want a bit more involvement, although I never felt the urge to use them.
The handling is good, thanks to the chassis design, aero stabilising fins, and vehicle stability control but at speed it is prone to a little understeer, although it is fair to say this is minimal and generally the car is reasonably agile.
The Aurion offers more performance than your average Toyota sedan, successfully combining a sporty feel with versatility which makes it a very cool family car.
Yes, there are plenty of faster, more exciting, and more luxurious mid-sized sedans out there in a very challenging market but at just Dh125,750 it offers stunning value for a car that certainly deserves its own share of the limelight.
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