A GLOBAL motor show debut for the all-new 200 Series LandCruiser was the headline act at today’s Australian International Motor Show opening from Toyota, which also hosted previews of the TRD HiLux, a race-prepped TRD Aurion and the RAV4 V6.
The biggest news to accompany the new ’Cruiser’s premiere Australian appearance was confirmation that, as forecast by GoAuto more than 12 months ago, it will pack a twin-turbocharged version of the company’s first ever diesel V8, introduced in single-turbo 151kW/430Nm guise in the upgraded 70 Series workhorse range in April.
However, in an effort to maintain the suspense more than a month out from its local release, and despite the release of selected local details when the 200 was launched in Japan three weeks ago, Toyota Australia’s coyness about the exact specifications of its redesigned off-road king raises more questions than it answers.
As we reported last month, the direct-injection 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 delivers up to 210kW and 650Nm of torque overseas, but Toyota Australia says only that our version will offer “more than 190kW” and “well over 600Nm of torque”, suggesting our 200 Series may not produce as much performance.
According to Toyota, compared to the current 100 Series’ 4.2-litre straight-six turbo-diesel, the first new LandCruiser wagon in almost 10 years will deliver almost one-third more power and more than 200Nm of extra torque, which peaks just above idle and is maintained beyond 2500rpm.
Toyota also provided limited details of its upgraded petrol engine option for the new 200, which is due on sale on November 5. Now featuring “intelligent” variable valve timing, the revised 4.7-litre V8 is claimed to offer in excess of 200kW.
As previously reported, Europe’s petrol 200 Series produces 212kW and 445Nm, and returns EU combined cycle fuel consumption of 14.4L/100km – down 12 per cent on the 100 Series’ 4.7 V8.
Toyota Australia claims only that both V8s use less fuel than the engines they replace, but has confirmed the diesel will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission while the petrol comes with a five-speeder – both with manual-shift mode and “Artificial Intelligence Shift Control”.
Toyota reiterated the 200’s fitment of the Australian-developed Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), a world-first “crawl control” system, a Torsen limited-slip centre differential and a multi-terrain anti-lock braking system, along with a stronger (and larger) body that features standard VSC stability control across the range. Ten airbags will also be available here – not 14, as in Europe.
From top: Aurion TRD race car, HiLux TRD, RAV4 V6 (below).
Toyota also says that, for the first time in Australia, the flagship LandCruiser will feature four-zone climate-control, while other available technology here will include Smart Entry and Smart Start, Bluetooth phone connection, satellite-navigation and steering wheel controls.
“More than ever before, it will be the vehicle against which other 4WDs are judged,” said senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner. “It has helped us forge a strong connection with Australia.
“As a result, Australia has also played a significant part in developing the latest generation of what is rightly regarded as the king off the road. New LandCruiser has been tested and evaluated here for several years over more than 200,000km,” he said.
Undeterred by a dealership engine failure and fresh from announcing the consequent (and embarrassing) suspension of TRD Aurion sales had been lifted, the Toyota Racing Development bandwagon swung back into action at Sydney, where a "final pre-production" TRD HiLux and a TRD Aurion race car were also paraded.
As the second TRD model from Toyota, the TRD HiLux appears identical to the concept revealed as part of the TRD brand launch at Melbourne in February, but won't go on sale until mid-2008.
Once again Toyota confirmed the 4x4 double-cab TRD HiLux's supercharged 4.0-litre V6 will offer 25 per cent more than the standard engine's 175kW, along with "well over" 400Nm of torque (up from 376Nm).
Differentiated from lesser HiLux models by an embossed TRD logo above the grille, an "R" graphic on the mesh grille and TRD branding on the black sports bar and side steps, the TRD HiLux also features performance-enhanced suspension and brakes.
Continuing the TRD fanfare, Toyota announced its first factory entry in the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally since 2003 in the shape of a near-standard TRD Aurion to be piloted in its motorsport debut by Neal Bates, who helped develop the first TRD model and expects at least a top 15 finish.
Prepared by Bates' ARC-winning TRD team, the Targa TRD Aurion is fitted with a roll cage, racing seats and safety equipment.
After a protracted wait, Toyota's first V6-powerd RAV4 also made its national debut in Sydney ahead of its long-awaited launch next week.
Powered by the same 200kW-plus 3.5-litre DOHC alloy V6 that motivates the Aurion, Kluger, Tarago V6 and Lexus RX350, the flagship V6 variant is expected to attract new buyers to Toyota's top-selling RAV4 nameplate.
After agonising over its import, Toyota says it hopes the RAV4 V6 can reverse the declining share of six-cylinder sales in the compact SUV segment, which has grown almost 20 per cent this year. A Kluger-rivalling seven-seat version is not expected to be made available.
Toyota continued the industry's focus on the safety benefits of electronic stability control by showing a short film that compares two vehicles in a simulated kangaroo avoidance manoeuvre – one fitted with ESC and one without.
Of course, the vehicle with ESC is Toyota's upgraded Camry, which now matches Holden's VE Commodore sedan by featuring ESC as standard, while the one without is "a non-VSC rival car".
In other Sydney news from Toyota, Mr Buttner formally revealed Toyota expects to achieve its fifth successive year of market leadership in 2007, when it now expects to sell around 235,000 vehicles.
After nine months, Toyota sales are up more than 11 per cent and its market share has risen six points to 22.4 per cent. It will be the fourth consecutive year Toyota has sold more than 200,000 vehicles – something no other Australian car-maker has achieved.
"We are on track to post a sizeable gain over last year's 213,847 and, more importantly, increase our market share," said Mr Buttner, who forecast SUVs would contribute 20 per cent of Toyota sales in 2008.
Finally, in addition to its new Corolla sedan and hatch range, Toyota rolled out a special-edition Touring variant of the Aurion sedan.
Based on the entry-level AT-X, it adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a spoiler, leather steering wheel and gear lever, dual-zone climate-control, front and rear parking sensors, a six-CD changer and a multi-information dashboard display – for $34,990.
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