VALUE ADDED

Driven: Toy­ota’s well priced Camry Atara SX

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - RE­VIEW CAR COURTESY OF PA­CIFIC TOY­OTA, CAIRNS

THE Camry has al­ways been re­garded as a safe bet, a plain Jane that can be re­lied on to de­liver kilo­me­tre after kilo­me­tre.

The ex­cite­ment fac­tor has been non- ex­is­tent and it ’s com­mon­place in bowls club car parks.

But the lat­est, which ends pro­duc­tion in Aus­tralia later this year, has pro­vided some zest to the oth­er­wise “white goods” of the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try.

The driver’s choice is the SX, a pack­age, con­ceived and put to­gether by Toy­ota’s Aus­tralian­based engi­neers. It’s the most ag­ile and re­spon­sive Camry yet.

The last of the Aussie built Cam­rys will be the best priced too. You can guar­an­tee next year’s Ja­panese im­port will be dearer so, if you are keen on a good medium sized car with an at­trac­tive price tag, then get in now.

Toy­ota is of­fer­ing at­trac­tive deals on 2016 demon­stra­tors. The base model Altise has a drive away price of $25,990, then $ 29,990 for the Atara S and $ 32,990 for Atara SX sporty model as driven last week­end.

DE­TAIL­ING

An­nounc­ing the ar­rival of the Atara SX are black five-spoke al­loy wheels – the first 1 8 - inch­ers on a Camry Down Un­der – and wide low-pro­file tyres.

Com­ple­ment­ing th­ese is a new sports sus­pen­sion de­liv­er­ing im­pres­sive body con­trol and ride com­fort, while a re­worked elec­tric power steer­ing sys­tem comes with a faster gear ra­tio for a more con­nected driv­ing feel.

Sharp head­lights add to the raw look, while LED day­time run­ning lamps, in­te­grated into the bumper, tone things down a touch. New LED tail lamps have been slightly low­ered and con­nect with ta­pered sheet metal to re­in­force Camry’s new planted stance.

Atara SX’s sporty na­ture is fur­ther high­lighted by its rear lip spoiler and dark dif­fuser on the rear bumper.

Sports seat sin the SX in­cor­po­rate a unique leather-ac­cented treat­ment with the red­dish-brown Raizen colour moved from the seat-back in­sert to the bol­ster, ac­cen­tu­at­ing the sporty na­ture of the seat de­sign.

Atara SX is fit­ted with a three-gauge in­stru­ment dis­play, fea­tur­ing blue high­lights. The smaller- di­am­e­ter leather­wrapped steer­ing wheel on all Cam­rys is more er­gonomic and in­cor­po­rates more in­te­grated switchgear for the au­dio, a con­nected smart­phone, MID and other func­tions.

The three petrol Atara mod­els have pad­dle shifters.

Other good­ies are au­dio head units with touch­screen dis­plays, Blue­tooth, aux­il­iary/ USB port, AM/FM ra­dio and a CD player.

The dis­play au­dio in Atara SX is up­graded with voice recog­ni­tion and Toy­ota Link with apps that can help drivers find a des­ti­na­tion, fuel and weather de­tails as well as road­side and other as­sis­tance.

Pan­dora mu­sic stream­ing al­lows users to cre­ate their own ‘ sta­tions’ us­ing a par­tic­u­lar artist, track or genre as a base.

DRIV­ING

The SX makes use of spe­cialised ver­sions of Toy­ota’s 16- valve twin-cam 2.5-litre 2AR en­gine fam­ily in­tro­duced with the cur­rent model.

In Altise, it de­liv­ers max­i­mum out­put of 133kW at 6000rpm and 231Nm of torque at 4100rpm. Dual ex­hausts on petrol Atara mod­els lift power to 135 kW at 6000rpm and torque of 235Nm at 4100rpm.

The cabin sur­round­ings are quiet and com­fort­able on long jour­neys with only road noise on coarse bi­tu­men dis­turb­ing the peace.

Matched to an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled six-speed se­quen­tial-shift au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, the petrol driv­e­line is fru­gal on fuel, achiev­ing 7.8L/100km on the com­bined ur­ban/high­way cy­cle with car­bon diox­ide emis­sions of 183g/km.

Over 300km last week­end I achieved 9.7 in a mix­ture of city, moun­tain range and open road driv­ing. The Camry dron­ing en­gine note has gone and has a nice rasp to it now.

Leav­ing the trans­mis­sion in full au­to­matic hast he SX scoot­ing along to the le­gal speed limit and un­trou­bled cruis­ing in be­tween.

There’s plenty of guts for over­tak­ing. It’s a sur­pris­ingly good han­dler too with a nice feel to the steer­ing, good brakes and grip.

DE­CID­ING

THE SX bodes well for the next model which is said to be even more sporty and al­lur­ing.

It shrugs off the cardi­gan image and is more ap­peal­ing to look at and drive.

I love the red trim high­lights at the front and rear of the car.

The A tar aS X takes the Camry out­side the square with its Aussie lar­rikin char­ac­ter.

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