How can some get it so wrong?

Posted on October 6th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

Whenever I have nearly finished writing a new car test, I have a quick look at what other testers have had to say about the car.


Sometimes I find points that I have overlooked – and I am not too proud to re-examine the car and see if I agree with that other perspective. Other times, I find comments that I completely disagree with – and I never change the test to match what a majority might be saying.


I always wait until my test is near-complete before looking at other tests; it’s the same logic that means I usually drive a car and decide what I think it is worth before looking up its exact price.


So when I’d just about finished writing the test on the Toyota Aurion AT-X, I did a quick web browse.


I thought the Aurion an excellent car. Now before people write that I have in the past criticised the Aurion – along with the Commodore and Falcon – as being the wrong cars for Australian manufacturers to be building, I don’t back away from that perspective in the slightest.


An evaluation of a car in terms of its fuel economy, handling, comfort, equipment level, safety  – and so on – is utterly different from an assessment of a car as to its suitability for the local manufacturing industry.


One thing that impressed me a great deal was the ability of the Aurion to cope with demanding, real-world Australian road conditions.


As regular readers will know, I live at the top of about 20 kilometres of a steep, narrow, winding and very difficult country bitumen road. The road includes bumps, dips, off-cambers, tightening radii, corrugated bitumen and lots of other nasties. There are accidents every month, and – terribly – a fatality about once every two years.


I have driven perhaps 80 different cars on this road.


Some cars are simply way out of their depth – the Nissan 350Z was a great example of a car with completely the wrong suspension for this road. The current Honda Civic Type R struggled. Other cars cope – but only just.


And then there are cars that are so poised and confident that it is simply amazing. These cars include the Porsche Boxster, Evo 6.5 Lancer, Mitsubishi Magna Sports AWD, first generation Lexus LS400 – and the Aurion.


It’s not just outright grip, it’s not just suspension stiffness or damping: it’s the combination of very precise driver feedback (eg in roll linearity and steering weight), sufficient suspension travel – and retaining the correct wheel geometry over that travel.  


To find this behaviour in a base model family car was impressive – highly impressive.


So what did other journalists have to say about the Aurion AT-X handling?


I stopped looking after reading the first test I found:


“There’s noticeable body roll and the car’s overall dynamic is soft and unrefined. Along secondary country roads the steering weight increases noticeably through the corners, and the rack and pinion system feels numb and uninformative.”





13 Responses to 'How can some get it so wrong?'

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  1. Jason said,

    on October 7th, 2008 at 1:59 pm


    just out of interest, how many kilometres had this Aurion travelled ?

  2. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 7th, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    40,000? Something like that. Certainly had a few hire car kays under its wheels.

  3. Mitchell said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Have you driven an FG XT or VE Omega,or 380 on this road? If so how do they stack up respectively?
    Also, do you plan on testing a TRD Aurion on the road?

  4. Luke Konynenburg said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 8:33 am

    The Police are trying to get rid of a 12 month old Aurion TRD with 18,000kms on it through Grays Online at the moment – starting bid is $35k, not a cracker of interest. At $65k… not really, but surely for near half that – could be bargain of the year?

  5. Ford Man said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Two reasons:

    1. The journalist. Typically their careers started by covering racing and performance cars. This leads to most car reviews being written from the perspective ‘could the car be raced successfully?’ The consumer subtleties of packaging, ride, and reliability are not seen as important and skipped over superficially.

    2. The audience. Most car enthusiasts do not understand in the finer points of vehicle dynamics. Straight line performance and appearance is everything. More “push in the back” is perceived to equal a more sporty and desirable car. Points are added or subtracted depending on how closely the body, power train and wheels resemble those on a racing car. The journalists know this and write their articles accordingly.

  6. Ford Man said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Wheels mag – Aurion is 3rd best aussie large car.
    Motor mag – Aurion is no good on racetrack. – Aurion gets 3.5 stars (like every car)

  7. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Mitchell, I have never driven an FG Falcon and I have driven the VE Commodore only on interstate roads. You will note that I was careful not to make a direct comparison of the Aurion’s handling to those two cars. Mitsubishi 380 was very good but had steering kickback, something we covered in a specific AutoSpeed article.

    Where would we get a supercharged Aurion? We had to hire this one!

  8. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Ford Man, I have no doubt the Aurion would be poor on a racetrack, which is why I was very specific about the sort of road I was driving it on, a road typical of many Australian countrry roads.

  9. Ford Man said,

    on October 8th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    My comments were a dig at the other journalists and their generic reviews.

    The dog and lemon guide has some interesting comments on car reviews and the motivations of the authors, unfortunately not published online (but well worth buying). ran an article recently lamenting vehicle handling being ignored in favor of acceleration. (Second last paragraph).

    Please keep up the insightful new car reviews. I find them particularly interesting.

  10. Brad said,

    on October 12th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Interesting you mention both the EVO 6.5 and Magna AWD. You need to go for a drive in a Legnum VR-4. It has the 4wd + AYC from an EVO, your choice of 5 speed tiptronic or manual, is exactly half way between the EVO and the Magna, and a 2.5L Twin Turbo V6 with no lag at all.

  11. BG said,

    on October 14th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Slightly annoying also, that they rate body roll to be so detrimental as to open the sentence with it. I would have thought allowing some body roll would benefit the performance on secondary country roads…

  12. trackdaze said,

    on October 18th, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Not my experience. I had an Aurion try to straighline we off the great ocean road. Here is was simply rolling out of the throttle, no pitch, yaw or slip and it pinched a rear brake. It happened more than once. Dangerous.

    Other observations? The steering is conected to the front end with a factory seconds adult toy. & on typical Australian back roads the rear end fidgets incessantly.

    In this case body roll comes from the poor chassis design not from expert suspension tuning.

  13. tekkyy said,

    on November 28th, 2008 at 8:01 am


    would appreciate if you would test VE Commodore and FG Falcon on that same road

    lack of feedback:
    a typical jornalist comment, which I disagree…I definitely would NOT say lack of feedback when driving on some of our uneven roads in the neighboorhood

    a contrast among journalists here, with some actually saying not easy to understeer such as “Family values drop” – Courier Mail

    yes I feel a bit more than desired, but we have the Touring/AT-X not the Sportivo

    smooth and quiet overall, but a bit wobbly when low speed cruising on concrete roads