When I first saw the Aurion it reminded me of the Camry, but boxier. There were more sharp edges and a broader stance – it was like the Camry’s bigger, more muscular brother. As it should be, considering this has a 3.5L V6 capable of 200kw of power and 336 Nm of torque under its blunt flat nose. It was a quick drive home to get packed up and ready for the road trip the next day to the Flat Nats(link) in Manfeild. The road trip would be a good test.
It was an early and wet start to the trip to Manfeild. First impressions were that this will be an easy trip. I was in a comfortable driving position with great support from the seats, or so I thought. After about a half hour I found my right leg starting to get sore and found that in its natural resting position there was a small bulge in the door handle design that was pushing almost under my kneecap, and if I moved to alleviate this pain then my foot was not in a comfortable position for operating the pedals, this turned out to be another one of those things that I just had to live with given my height (6’4”).
I decided to distract myself with seeing what was in the cabin. I had already plugged my phone into the usb charger in the center console and connected it to the Bluetooth before I set off. Connecting the Bluetooth was a very simple and straightforward process, but when you had connected your phone to the charger there was nowhere really to put it that was out of the way. I could not close the compartment that had charger in it as it was too small to hold the phone and my phone is not the latest giant phones that could have made this worse, but in the end I just put it in the passenger seat so it and its cable were out of the way.
As I passed my gaze up the centre column past the cup holders, 12V port and gear stick I saw a button that I was not too sure what the symbol meant. At first I thought it was maybe a button you could link with a garage door so you did not need to have a door clicker as it looked like a garage door with up and down arrows on it, so of course I pressed it. I heard a noise behind me and suddenly panicked that I had opened the boot lid while driving down the motorway and looked in the rear view mirror to see a privacy shade rising over the rear window. I could breathe again.
Continuing my gaze past the standard climate control buttons we get to the 7” TFT Touchscreen infotainment system. From here I could control the radio, CD player, phone and system settings. I set it up to play some music from my phone over Bluetooth with no issues and it even showed the album art, which was a nice touch. The sound produced by the JBL Surround sound 10-speaker system was great, clear sound.
And finally we come to the instrument cluster, with its speedo, tachometer and 4.2” display in the middle. It was a nice stylish setup with a blue backlight which was adjustable from basically off to blinding bright. The screen showed your eco/green meter, how economically you were driving and after the two hour drive it had settled in at a good 7.3L/100km per litre which was higher than the had been stated in the car specs, on the highway at least.
Now down to the handling of the car. It felt very comfortable on the road and could easily eat up the miles. I did find it a little odd however then when I would go to overtake or increase speed it would be a bit sluggish to get going but then once you got the revs up high enough it got moving. I did discover with this car one of the oddest things that I just can’t explain. If I was fully stopped and shifted into sports mode it would select 4th gear. The display in the cluster would change from Drive to S with a 4 beside it, I could move it down to 1st with the paddles but it always started in 4th, something I just can’t get my head around.
After my day at Manfeild it was time to head home. I decided for the trip home that I would let the sat nav take me and see how well it did. So I punched in my address using the touch screen and started the navigation, all was going well until I deliberately missed a turn to go past it and get petrol. Expecting to be told I was going to wrong way or had missed the turn all it did was to recalculate my route without saying anything. I recalculated to go to next roundabout which was not far and take the 3rd exit essentially to go back the way I had come. Got petrol and back on the road and I got a ding notification and the sat nav voice started to warn me about a traffic jam and possible time delays which was great except for where it told me the congestion was I realised I was still 2 hours away from it at the tunnel on SH1 in wellington. Thinking it was just a bit keen for me to try and re-route myself I did not think too much about except after 20 mins when it reminded me and every 20 mins after that the whole way back where I discovered there was no traffic jam and just sailed straight through the city and out the other side.
After my big outing it was back to the normal work week routine where the car was more than capable of inner-city driving, except maybe for the fact that it felt a little big but countered this by being fairly agile. It also gave me 9.3km per liter around the city.
I took my lunch to a coastal carpark on one of the few sunny days and sat and just looked the car over from the outside. The Aurion that I had was in Indigo and came standard with the 5 spoke 18” gloss-black painted alloys, and even in the sun it was just dark on dark, I felt that it could have done with a silver alloy wheel but also thought that for 18” wheels they looked really small on this car, the wheel arches were huge and just made the wheels look small – you could easily fit a 20” wheel in them. It would have also been nice to see the car in a brighter colour maybe the wildfire red would have been a better match with the black wheels.
What it’s up against?
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Volkswagen Passat 206kw TSI R-Line||2.0l 4 cylinder turbo||206kW/350Nm||7.1||$68,740|
|Honda Accord V6NT||3.5l V6 cylinder||206kW/339Nm||9.2||$60,000|
|Holden Commodore sv6-Storm||3.6l V6 cylinder||210kW/350Nm||9.0||$56,490|
|Mazda 6 Limited||2.5l 4 cylinder||138kW/250Nm||6.6||$55,995|
|Hyundai Sonata Elite Limited||2.0 4 cylinder Turbo||180kW/350Nm||9.2||$55,990|
|Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6||3.5l V6 cylinder||200kW/336Nm||9.3||$54,990|
|Ford Falcon xr6||4.0l I6 cylinder||195kW/391Nm||9.5||$54,340|
|Nissan Altima Ti||2.5l 4 cylinder||127kW/230Nm||7.5||$53,290|
|Kia Optima Limited||2.4 4 cylinder||148kW/250Nm||7.9||$52,490|
|Skoda Octavia RS||1.9l 4 cylinder turbo||162kW/350Nm||6.4||$49,990|
The good and the bad.
What do we think?
All in all I just kept coming back to the same questions that were bugging me, why? Why would I buy this car, and who was its target market. I had real trouble in putting this car in its place, was it a family car or a business executive’s car or a fleet car? Also I could not see what this car had over the Camry, why not save myself $10k and just get a GL Camry? It has many of the same features except a slightly smaller engine and smaller wheels.
Rating – Chevron rating 2.5 out of 5
|Vehicle Type||Front Engined, FWD Sedan|
|Starting Price||$ 54,990 NZD (+ orc)|
|Tested Price||$ 55,096 NZD|
|Engine||Petrol 3.5l V6|
|Transmission||6–speed automatic with sequential shift|
|Kerb Weight||1555 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4855 x 1825 x 1470 mm|
|Towing Capacity||Unbraked – 500kg, Braked – 1600Kg|
|Fuel Tank||70 L|
|Fuel Efficiency||Combined – 9.3 L/100km|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 stars|