All New Electric Luxury
About the Car
Let’s address the elephant in the room right at the outset. Toyota's Camry costs Rs 36.95 lakh. Yes, it’s Rs 27,000 LESS compared to the car it replaces. But, by no stretch of imagination, can it be called affordable. On one end you’ve got the Superb from Skoda that’s throwing heavy punches and undercutting the Camry heavily on price, on the other there’s the Honda Accord that’s desirable but priced in a way that hurts your property buying decisions. Let’s not forget that the Camry faces a very credible threat from within the stable in the form of the Toyota Fortuner. We know we’re talking of apples and oranges.
It’s an uphill task for the Camry, sure. We drive the latest generation of what’s a global favourite, and widely hailed as among the most reliable cars you can ever buy, to answer just one question: Should you even consider buying one?
‘This can’t be a Camry!’ were our first thoughts when we saw the suave sedan roll up on the fancy 5-star hotel porch. Forgive us for being blunt, but the outgoing generation wasn’t exactly a sight for sore eyes. This, on the other hand, looks good enough for you to want it. We don’t really remember the last time the design on a Toyota car was such a strong point.
It’s grown bigger in size and it shows. With an added 35mm in length, 15mm in width and a whopping 50mm in wheelbase, the Camry looks fitter than ever to be the Saaheb-mobile. With the 25mm drop in height and bigger, 18-inch alloy wheels filling up the large wheel wells, it looks, dare we say, sporty!
Of course, there are bits that we’re not too fond of. For starters, the airdam grille up front makes you wonder if there’s any bumper at all. Then there’s the C-pillar that appears unnecessarily bulky.
Rounding the package off are LED everything. You get bi-beam full-LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, LED fog lamps as well as LED tail lamps. It’s like Toyota wanted to save energy here too! We also see chrome being used in a thoughtfully restrained manner. A small splash on the grille, a little dollop around the window line and some more garnishing on the tailgate (with embossed C A M R Y lettering, no less) seal the deal.
Toyota’s Camry then, doesn’t look like the straight-cut textbook luxury sedan anymore. Now, it seems, that it has a personality. And that’s always a fantastic starting point!
‘This can’t be a Camry!’ No, you’re not reading the same paragraph again. For someone used to the old Camry, the interior will come as a pleasant surprise. While the old one felt a bit too Corolla from every way you looked at it, this feels unique. And, just like the exterior, you sense Toyota has actually put some thought into design instead of following a textbook
Cocooned by the seats, it’s easier to take in the in-cabin experience of the Camry. A prominent Y-shaped accent on the dash immediately grabs attention. Finished in a sombre dull grey, it underscores the gloss-black panel (that houses the touchscreen) above it while complimenting the subtle, light-coloured wood finish that’s around the car. While the gloss black surface looks appealing, we can’t help but wonder how it will hold up to dust and cloth wipes over the years. It looks like a soft target for fingerprints as well as swirl marks. Ice blue ambient lighting strongly contributes to the sense of opulence in the cabin.
Move to the rear bench and you’d immediately notice better kneeroom. The stretch in wheelbase is definitely paying dividends. Headroom should be adequate for the average Indian. But if you’re 6ft or above, you’ll feel a bit close to the roof and would want a little more support for the under-thigh as well. There’s enough width here to seat three. But the armrest doesn’t sit completely flush, nor feels likes a comfortable place to rest your back against — so we’d suggest using the Camry as a four-seater lounge.
Flipping the central armrest down into use also lets you use the pop-out cupholders. And while it seems like it does, the central portion of the armrest doesn’t open up like the old car. You’ll need to use the storage space in the door pads or the seat back pockets to store your knick-knacks. Since we’re talking seat-backs, it’d have been nice to see a fold-out tray here. You know, when you want to grab a quick meal or work on the go.
There’s plenty of equipment here to be kicked about. Let’s start with the 8-inch touchscreen that takes up most of the real estate on the dash. That said, the layout is intuitive to use with physical keys for practically everything being well within reach from the driver’s seat. Touch response isn’t anything out of the ordinary, and the user interface is easy to grasp as well. Issues? Well, there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay on offer here. And the quality of the video feed from the parking camera could be better.
Paired with this touchscreen is a 9-speaker JBL sound system. Sound isn’t bombastic as the maker’s label would lead you to believe. It feels pleasant and crisp at higher volumes. But at lower levels, it sounds a bit hollow. The tiny subwoofer placed on the parcel shelf manages to just about add some thump to the output. That said, this doesn’t come close to the output from the Superb’s 12-speaker Canton audio system.
More features are there on the front console of the driver side so that different modes can be selected easily as per the need which is very efficient as compare with the other cars.
Engine and Performance
The petrol engine makes 178PS of power and 221Nm of torque. That’s a solid 18PS and 8Nm extra compared to the older engine. On the electric end of things, the system has moved from a 650V to a 245V setup. Power output from the electric motor has reduced, from 143PS to 120PS. Torque too is lower than before — 202Nm vs 270Nm. That said, the combined output of the hybrid drivetrain is higher than before at 218PS (vs 202PS).
Also, yes, the Camry has gained a negligible 30kg compared to the old car. That said, it feels ages better to drive. Much like the old Camry you first need to get used to the sheer silence when you start it up. The pin-drop silence is because the Camry starts up in EV mode. Look for the small ‘Ready’ light on the instrument cluster for your cue. Get going and it’s only the electric motor that drives the front wheel. It feels at ease pushing the car along upto 35-40kmph, under low load conditions. Prod a bit further on the throttle and the 2.5-litre petrol engine comes to life with a small gargle.
Switching to Sport mode makes the throttle snappier, and the petrol engine is on song more often. This is the mode to be in if you like fast-paced highway cruising. Overtaking takes nothing more than a dab of the throttle, and maintaining triple digit speeds feels like second nature to the Camry.
Piecing this experience together is the e-CVT. This too feels more polished than before, responding to part-throttle inputs better. That said, you will hear the engine revving its way to glory for a second or two before you actually see progress. It still doesn’t like being hurried, and would prefer you had predictable inputs on the throttle.
To keep you safe, Toyota is offering 9 airbags on the Camry. There’s anti-lock braking, brake assist, vehicle stability control and traction control as well. You also get front and rear parking sensors that lets you park this behemoth without breaking a sweat.
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