Driven: Toyota’s well priced Camry Atara SX
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.
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.
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.
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.