Fa­mous fi­nal scene

In the ul­ti­mate facelift for the lo­cally built Camry, the SX brings sportier styling and sus­pen­sion

The Advertiser - Motoring - - THE TICK -

busi­ness buy­ers alike. Take the fi­nal facelift of the lo­cally built Camry. Of the 20,000 an­nual Aus­tralian sales Toy­ota is pre­dict­ing be­tween now and the clo­sure of the Mel­bourne plant in 2017, about 65 per cent will go to rental and cor­po­rate fleets.

The re­main­ing 35 per cent still ranks the Camry above the bench­mark car in the class, the Mazda6, in terms of mum-and­dad sales.

Toy­ota is chas­ing a greater mix of pri­vate sales with the Camry SX, with sportier styling and firmer sus­pen­sion.

Think of it like putting honey on your ce­real: the ba­sic fare’s bland but good and there’s now a touch of ex­tra flavour to sweeten the deal.

DE­SIGN

Amer­i­cans didn’t like the look of the out­go­ing model, so ev­ery panel ex­cept the roof has been up­dated this time around.

The most ob­vi­ous change is the more ag­gres­sive grille with a hon­ey­comb fin­ish and the fact the SX rides on 18-inch wheels for the first time in Camry’s his­tory.

The up­graded rims are part of an Aus­tralian-spe­cific sus­pen­sion tune to help pitch the SX at a younger au­di­ence, those who ap­pre­ci­ate ve­hi­cles that are as much about re­spon­sive­ness as re­li­a­bil­ity.

The in­te­rior up­grades are more sub­tle and are based on im­proved in­fo­tain­ment, though there is a new three-spoke steer­ing wheel if that’s what gets you sweaty-palmed. One of the few ar­eas where the Camry still feels off the pace is the touch­screen — all mod­els ex­cept the top-spec SL rely on a 6.1-inch touch­screen at a time when seven and eight inches are be­com­ing stan­dard. Then again, most of the com­pe­ti­tion is sig­nif­i­cantly dearer than the SX’s $31,990 price.

The seats are com­fort­able in gen­eral use but lack the lat­eral sup­port needed to keep up with the SX’s new-found cor­ner­ing prow­ess.

AROUND TOWN

A Camry that turns heads isn’t part of the nor­mal sales spiel. Get used to it in the SX, at least for those who get in quick while the new look is still a nov­elty.

The black wheels fill the arches and are mounted with de­cent 45-pro­file rub­ber to give more grip than a regular model.

The sharp­ened steer­ing rack makes it that lit­tle bit eas­ier to turn tight cor­ners with­out tak­ing hands from the wheel and the ride feels slightly more com­posed with less body roll and pitch­ing un­der brakes.

The brakes are good, ex­cept for the re­ten­tion of a foot­op­er­ated park­ing brake. If I can’t have an old-fash­ioned lever, then give me an e-brake switch. While I’m com­plain­ing, sat­nav isn’t an op­tion — and it should be.

Boot space is more than pass­able at 515L and vi­sion is good ev­ery­where, ex­cept for the roof pil­lars intruding on rear three-quar­ter views. Toy­ota has made the chunky panel look a lit­tle thin­ner by adding a blacked-out “win­dow” strip but that doesn’t help driv­ers see through it when chang­ing lanes.

A pair of sen­sors and a cam­era take the stress out of re­vers­ing. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 1200kg braked.

ON THE ROAD

The good news is the SX rides bet­ter than any Camry be­fore it. The bad news is it doesn’t go any faster to take ad­van­tage of that.

The SX has to make do with the ex­ist­ing six-speed au­to­matic gear­box and the 2.5litre four-cylin­der that, lack­ing any form of forced in­duc­tion — or the bat­tery pack found in its hy­brid Camry sta­ble­mates — is hand­i­capped against the op­po­si­tion.

The Toy­ota en­gine likes to rev. Its peak out­puts of 135kW and 235Nm chime in at 6000rpm and 4100rpm re­spec­tively, so launch progress isn’t elec­tric or even hy­brid for that mat­ter.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion may not be any quicker but the SX can hold cor­ner mo­men­tum bet­ter than a stan­dard Camry.

Put that down to a more as­sured ride and bet­ter steer­ing weight and feed­back than regular Cam­rys.

Toy­ota tech­ni­cal cen­tre boss Max Gil­lard says there are now ef­fec­tively two Camry flavours.

“The core Camry is as com­fort­able and as ca­pa­ble as ever while the new sports pack­age has been de­vel­oped for peo­ple who en­joy the fun­da­men­tal ex­cite­ment of driv­ing a car,” he says.

I don’t know that the Camry SX is that ex­cit­ing … but it would be the “go-to” car if I was vis­it­ing a Toy­ota deal­er­ship (and Mrs Duff wouldn’t let me buy an 86)

VER­DICT

The Camry SX moves the game from prac­ti­cal to pur­pose­ful. It’s a fit­ting trib­ute to the lo­cal en­gi­neers but it would nice to see the sus­pen­sion smarts ap­plied to the quicker hy­brid vari­ant.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.