First drive: 2015 Toyota Aurion TRD in the UAE
Al Futtaim Motors just celebrated their 60th anniversary this week. That’s right, the UAE’s sole Toyota distributor has been at it for more than half a century, so it’s a bit of a surprise that they’re doing anything TRD-related only now. TRD is Toyota’s performance arm, and UAE dealerships now offer add-on TRD parts for various models. We picked the TRD Aurion to take for a spin, skipping more intriguing models such as the TRD FJ Cruiser and the TRD 86.
So why did we pick the Aurion, of all things? Well, we wanted something with a big boot to do an airport run that weekend. That’s it. It’s only later that we realised the car is far more interesting.
For one thing, the test car came with a flamboyant racecar-style livery job that made us look like wannabe boy-racers. And you know what, we didn’t mind the experience of being stared at. It was fun looking at people’s faces.
The Aurion was a base-spec model, so it came standard with a “sport” body kit, rear spoiler and a cloth interior. While the interior was untouched, the exterior was further spruced up with lowered suspension and unique TRD alloys. The low-riding combination was a constant worry while parking near high footpath curbs.
While we initially thought the entire idea of a TRD Aurion was cheesy, we were surprised by the old-school power of the 268 hp 3.5-litre V6, delivered through the front wheels via a well-programmed 6-speed automatic and the occassional wheelspin. No delayed DSGs, no rubbery CVTs and no turbo lag. Just linear torque.
The surprises didn’t stop there. Since the lowering job uses actual TRD bits and not just a cut-and-shut job, the handling is actually pretty darn good. There’s severe understeer at the limit, but those limits are higher, while the reduced body roll inspires confidence on the longer corners. It could probably outrun everything else in its class now.
We believe the new wheels come with grippier rubber, and a side-effect of that is the steering is a fair bit firmer than what you’d feel in a Camry. There’s also some feedback from the wheel, although the steering ratio remains bog-standard, as do the decent brakes and the silent exhaust. So it’s not the all-out sports sedan that it could’ve been.
It also rides a bit firmly, so bumps and such are more noticeable, though it never gets unbearable, and it remains a quiet cruiser with fuel consumption hovering around the 13 litres/100 km mark in the real world.
So there you go. Even if you feel the urge to do so, you cannot point and laugh at this shabab-mobile. For a front-wheel-drive sedan based on the Camry, it’s relatively quick in a straight line as well as around corners. It’s a nice pop of colour in a dull world. If you don’t mind the slightly-degraded ride quality, the Dhs 11,000 asking price for the handling upgrades (probably minus the stickers) isn’t bad at all.
For prices and specs, visit the Toyota Aurion buyer guide.