Sunday 18 November 2018

New Toyota Camry to offer diesel-level economy without diesel downsides

First look in Barcelona: Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry

Brian Byrne

A nameplate once beloved of taxi drivers when they could get a good used one, and by An Garda when they wanted something with a bit more poke, the Toyota Camry was discontinued in Europe in 2004 because the cult of diesel made it unsaleable with its petrol-only powertrain.

The Camry has remained one of Toyota's best-selling cars, with 19m copies sold in more than 100 countries since 1987.

I drove the latest version, the eighth generation, in prototype form, this week.

The Camry will be brought back to Europe next year, and it still doesn't have a diesel engine.

But a brand new 2.5 petrol hybrid motor is Toyota's business case for the return, offering diesel-level economy without diesel downsides.

Many of Toyota's European dealers have been appealing for the return so they can have a model for the space that includes the Opel Insignia Gran Sport through to the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class.

However, while the Camry might be one of the most successful saloons in the world outside Europe, it was perceived as being, well, a bit dull.

"Normally, a mainstream sedan is considered to be a rational choice but not particularly fun to drive," says Masato Katsumata, chief engineer with the Toyota Motor Corporation for the new Camry's development.

"With a younger generation of customer who is moving in an emotional direction, we reached a conclusion that there should be unprecedented change with the new car."

The company has endeavoured to create a car that will prompt people to say "that's too cool to be a Camry".

Using the new platform introduced with the current Prius and underpinning the popular C-HR crossover, Toyota has produced an executive car with a low, edgy styling and a spacious interior that rivals prime European competitors such as the Skoda Superb.

With the placement of the hybrid battery under the rear seat, and a realignment of other components thanks to the new architecture, the car's centre of gravity is lower.

Add in a rigid base structure and the new Camry deals with twists, turns and awkward cambers more like a sports car than the large saloon that it is.

The engine is the first of a new generation, a 2.5 inline 4cyl with more power and better economy.

I had a full afternoon with the car in a mix of roads near Barcelona on Monday, some of them challenging to a large vehicle like the Camry.

In an uncannily quiet tramp through the hills, I experienced the ride and handling that had been promised.

The set-up of the hybrid system also provided ample acceleration when a fast response was needed.

See for yourself when the car gets here at the end of 2019.

Indo Motoring

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