Classy Camry sets a new stan­dard for Toy­ota

Gloucestershire Echo - - TEST DRIVE -

TOY­OTA is mak­ing a come­back to the sa­loon car mar­ket with the re­turn of the Camry to re­place the British-built Aven­sis, writes Chris Russon.

It’s been 15 years since the Camry was last on sale in the UK and the new model is the eighth gen­er­a­tion of a car that has been around for 32 years and sold more than 19 mil­lion.

Hy­brid only, the new­comer is a big car – think BMW 5 Se­ries in pro­por­tions – and comes with a large boot at 524 litres plus plenty of rear leg room.

In­side it is a class act and just two trim lev­els will be avail­able – De­sign and Ex­cel – priced from £29,990 and £31,295.

De­sign mod­els sit on 17-inch al­loys and come highly equipped with leather seats – heated at the front – LED head­lamps and two seven-inch dis­play screens, one on

the in­stru­ment panel and the other on the dash which gives ac­cess to Toy­ota’s Touch 2 mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem. For the ex­tra £1,300 to get to Ex­cel grade you get 18-inch al­loys, LED fog lights and pro­jec­tor head­lamps plus ex­tra safety kit in­clud­ing blind spot mon­i­tors and rear cross traf­fic alerts.

There is also wire­less phone charg­ing but full smart­phone com­pat­i­bil­ity is still on the wish list.

The pow­er­train is Toy­ota’s lat­est hy­brid sys­tem which uses a 2.5-litre petrol en­gine hooked up to an elec­tric mo­tor to give a com­bined out­put of 218ps.

That’s enough to pro­pel all 1.6 tonnes of the Camry from 0 to 60 in 8.3 sec­onds with a max­i­mum of 112mph.

Three drive modes are avail­able to switch from nor­mal to sport or eco set­tings with pure elec­tric power avail­able for short dis­tances.

Leave the sys­tem to its own de­vices and it is sur­pris­ing how much time the car drives in EV mode where it burns no fuel at all.

We man­aged to av­er­age 66 to the gal­lon on a good run through the coun­try­side and that bet­tered the of­fi­cial best of 53.3mpg un­der the new WLTP test­ing pro­ce­dure by some mar­gin.

Emis­sions for the Camry in De­sign trim – that’s on smaller wheels – are 98g/km while the Ex­cel comes in at 101g/km.

Toy­ota’s fourth gen­er­a­tion hy­brid sys­tem also fea­tures mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the CVT trans­mis­sion where six ar­ti­fi­cial gears can be di­alled in and se­lected at the flick of the gear lever.

How­ever, there are no pad­dle shifters and that is one of sev­eral fea­tures that sets the Camry apart from its Lexus ES sis­ter ship which costs a few thou­sand pounds more and both mod­els are made in Ja­pan.

Ride qual­ity is above av­er­age, es­pe­cially for a car in this price bracket and that makes the Camry an ex­cel­lent long dis­tance tourer.

Its forte is cruis­ing and the cabin is al­most to­tally silent – even at mo­tor­way speeds – and it feels ro­bust and pos­i­tive at all times.

The dash is a step up for Toy­ota with a curved satin chrome strip flow­ing from the cen­tre con­sole to the in­stru­ment panel while there is gloss black around the cen­tral dis­play screen and soft touch fin­ishes to the trim.

With Ex­cel grade the Camry comes with what Toy­ota calls Tiger Eye wooden ef­fect trim which changes its pat­tern de­pend­ing on view­ing an­gle.

We liked it but it is a ‘Mar­mite’ fea­ture as is the heav­ily slat­ted nose. It may give the Camry a dis­tinc­tive look but when it comes to clean­ing it’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

Nev­er­the­less there is an im­pres­sive feel about the Camry’s styling which gives it a qual­ity sta­tus that is lack­ing in the likes of al­ter­na­tives such as the Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat and Skoda Su­perb.

The Camry also has a clever cli­mate con­trol sys­tem that uses nano tech­nol­ogy to ionise the air in the cabin cre­at­ing a very pleasant en­vi­ron­ment.

In this league of car that is a class fea­ture and un­der­scores the Camry’s lux­ury aura.

With­out a doubt the Camry sets a new stan­dard for Toy­ota and lives up to the com­pany’s pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda’s ‘no more bor­ing cars’ state­ment in true fash­ion.

On the global stage the Camry slots well into the Toy­ota hy­brid line up and while in the UK Toy­ota knows it won’t be a main­stream player it has qual­i­ties which will con­found the sternest critic.

The Toy­ota Camry will re­place the Aven­sis.

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