Big­ger bang the­ory

The new Toy­ota Prado four-wheel-drive is big in the fam­ily way, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AVALUE-FIRST three-door Toy­ota Prado will spear­head a show­room push by Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing car brand. The next-gen­er­a­tion three and five-door is said to be close to our com­puter-gen­er­ated im­age (right), but spyshots ap­pear­ing on web­sites this week re­veal a more an­gled rear win­dow and ag­gres­sive front-end treat­ment with fewer grille bars and a more mus­cu­lar bumper.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia has been quiet through the first half of the year and suf­fered a sig­nif­i­cant sales hit, but plans to strike back through De­cem­ber with a rush of new mod­els and value-added deals on its Corolla and Camry.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia head of sales and mar­ket­ing Dave But­tner says: ‘‘We have facelifts for the Camry and Au­rion, we have spe­cial edi­tions for RAV, Corolla and Yaris, we have tech­ni­cal changes on HiLux, Hi­Ace and 70-Se­ries and we have the new-gen­er­a­tion Prado.

‘‘And we have VSC (elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol) com­ing on the Corolla hatch, with the sedan to fol­low next year.’’

Looking at the po­ten­tial for each of the new­com­ers, But­tner says the three-door Prado is the key with the fam­ily-fo­cused four-wheeldrive given a com­plete re­newal as part of the change to the 200-Se­ries LandCruiser fam­ily.

‘‘It’s the first time we’ve had a three-door. It’s an ex­cit­ing new en­trant for us and gives us a new price point,’’ But­tner says.

‘‘We ex­pect it to be a strong seller. It’s a dif­fer­ent seg­ment. It will be a price leader.

‘‘We think it will ap­peal to a slightly dif­fer­ent buyer. We’re do­ing work­shops to de­ter­mine who it will ap­peal to. When you look at the next-gen­er­a­tion Prado that’s a very ex­cit­ing prod­uct for us. The spec­i­fi­ca­tion down the track is ab­so­lutely sen­sa­tional.’’

But­tner be­lieves Aus­tralian sales have bot­tomed af­ter the sharp down­turn in the fi­nal months of last year and is hop­ing for a re­vival to the end of this year.

‘‘I think the in­dus­try for the sec­ond half will be stronger than the first half,’’ he says.

‘‘There are signs that pri­vate buy­ers are re­turn­ing to the mar­ket­place.

‘‘We’re not walk­ing away from our 850,000 fore­cast for the year. May and June were very strong. The in­vest­ment al­lowance has def­i­nitely helped.

‘‘The first six months for most man­u­fac­tur­ers was slower than we have ex­pe­ri­enced for quite some time, but our or­der bank is back to where it was in March last year.

‘‘We be­lieve with our mar­ket­ing cam­paigns we’ll be able to drive show­room traf­fic.’’

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