The sport sedan market in Australia has shifted since the glory days of cheap fuel, large families and less crowded roads.
Families who would have once purchased a large sedan are now trading in for four-wheel drives. But, for an SUV to achieve the same level of performance, it can cost more than twice the price of a comparable sports sedan - and most will never see much more than a dirt road.
The Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 makes a statement that entices families to go back to the sports sedan. With acres of space, premium passenger comfort and power to spare, the Aurion is a bold reminder as to why we should reconsider the sedan in our driveways.
I went for a quick spin in the ZR6 to test out what makes this sports sedan stand out from the pack.
Walking up to the ZR6 is strikingly different to seeing a Camry or even the less equipped models from the Aurion stable.
Sports styling extends to bold lines that dominate the exterior, and the ZR6’s aggressive sports grille helps it stand out from the entry level AT-X or even the luxury Prodigy and Presara models.
Stepping inside, the first thing you’ll notice is the two-tone leather sports seats, soft touch plastics and JBL 7” touch screen multi-information display. This display houses the sat-nav, reversing camera and controls the 10-speaker sound system – which all adds up to a sophisticated, luxurious interior in a sub-$50,000 sedan.
The ZR6 is much more than a six-cylinder version of the Camry. The Aurion uses the same engine as it’s Lexus IS350 cousin, but if you’re in the market for the Lexus – you can save yourself around $30,000 by dropping the L-badge in favour of the T.
The 3.5L V6 engine underneath the hood is capable of producing 200kw of power, which translates into a quick getaway from the lights or an effortless blast down the highway. Mated to the six-speed sequential shift sports automatic, with paddle shifters, the ZR6 is built nimble.
The ZR6 also bucks the trend of large sedans in Australia by being front-wheel drive among a sea of rear-wheel drive competitors; this will displease most lead-footed drivers who tend to speed up and brake harder on the road.
Stamp your foot down and the front wheel drive Aurion will torque steer (pull to the left or right), and heavy braking will cause the nose to push down hard and shudder.
This ensures the ZR6 delivers smooth sports performance rather than brute force when driving.
Rather than leaning towards a harsh ride for sports performance, or put a spoiler on the back of a Camry and calling it a sports model – Toyota has carefully considered the balance between sports performance and refinement to create a balanced sports sedan.
The ZR6 has the practical side of things covered with seven airbags, vehicle stability and traction control, and seatbelt warnings for all five passengers; dual-zone climate controlled air conditioning and adaptive front lighting with automatic high beam complement the active safety measures.
A reversing camera is standard across the range, but in the Sportivo models you also get the back guide monitor that tells you where you’re steering. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) lets you know if there’s a car you can’t see in the lane next to you, by flashing a small light in your mirror.
Fuel consumption is good for a large sedan; Toyota claims a combined cycle of 9.3L/100km. I got close, but couldn't match it in my driving – predominantly city trips with some highway driving got me to a combined cycle of 10.0L/100km according to the in-dash display.
Boot space has been improved to 515 litres, while legroom and headroom have been improved thanks to the larger wheelbase.
The Toyota Aurion range starts from around $40,000 driveaway for the AT-X, climbing up to the flagship, luxury Presara for approximately $56,000 driveaway.
The top-of-range Sportivo model, as tested, clocks in at around $45,000 driveaway.
Confirm with the team at Motorama Toyota for an exact driveaway price.
The large sedan has tended to be overlooked as families flocked to SUVs for marginally more space and an aggressive stance on the road.
The Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6 puts the case forward that families can still get the same space and comfort – plus an enthusiastic drive – all for under $50,000.