With the closing of Australia as a carmaker, it’s not just Ford and GM that have shut up shop but also Toyota. So now we source new Camry from Japan once again. With Aurion gone, it’s just Camry now in various guises; a 2.5 GL, three grades of hybrid, and a V6 as you see here, resplendent in red. As for other V6 sedan options? There’s new ZB Commodore, though technically it’s a liftback, Legacy RS, actually a flat six and Accord V6, all closer to the $60k mark. Others like Mazda6 and Mondeo haven’t six cylinder options.
The latest Camry is certainly a better look. A complete stranger parked next to me at Bunnings and felt duty-bound to tell me that the deep red paint on our drive car looked superb. And he’s right, set off nicely by two-tone 19-inch alloys. Course we all know red cars are faster, and so it proved with this one, beating its performance claim by a few tenths. New Camry has a hint more aggression than its forgettable forebears, yet seems to have edged ever closer to Lexus in the manner it drives; it’s only ever hushed, even in Sport mode.
It’s also up for a bit more sporting fun now, for not only does it get a new platform and suspension, but also an uprated engine and transmission. It’s less expensive for all the improvements too which seems a bit bizarre but then Toyota is dead set on keeping its customers happy. The price reduction is all part of Toyota NZ’s move to transparent pricing so what used to cost well over $50k is now $47,990. The range kicks off at $35,990 for the GL 2.5.
Believe it or not, new Camry rests on the same TNGA platform as the CH-R and the Prius, yet it looks nothing like either of those, being vastly bigger. Greater use of high strength steels means added torsional rigidity which partly explains why it rides and handles better, though the updated Mac strut suspension up front and new double wishbone set-up at the rear (with separate springs and dampers) is also partly responsible. Components get a sports tune too. Yet it’s still pretty accommodating on the ride front. It’s tidy if soft in the dry, though steering feel isn’t a strength. In the wet you really want to take it easy, all that power to the fronts discourages pushing on.
Its three and a half litre V6 gets a proper boost in performance as a result of direct fuel injection and wider camshaft timing variation. Power is up from 200 to 224kW, while torque rises by a similar number, 26Nm, to 362. The former peaks at 6600rpm and the latter at 4400rpm, though torque upticks from about 3000rpm onwards. It’s a motor that seems to come alive around 2000rpm and the urge seems to swell as the revs rise.
Camry can hike alright. The engine also sips gently when it’s not hit with a big stick, as it can make the switch between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles. A mean of 8.9L/100km overall is claimed. Much of the time the trip computer seemed to be stuck on 11L/100km overall. The old one took roughly seven secs to reach 100 but with more gears, eight as opposed to six, new Camry managed a best of 6.3sec flat. And that’s with TC on; off it wouldn’t better 6.5sec. If the gears shifted a bit quicker we imagine it would get into the fives. In the Sport setting you really don’t need to mess with the standard paddle shifters. On the overtake, despite repeated efforts we couldn’t nudge it below 4.0sec, but then no Camry prior has managed that either. It stops in a bit of a hurry, thanks to larger brake rotors, although its best of 35.88m didn’t best Camrys from the past.
The model has always been roomy, and there’s no change there. Plenty of room for four sizeable adults in all, plus their gear in the boot, up by 30L to 524L, with split folding too if necessary, via releases in the boot. A couple of parcel hooks keeps things tidy. Specification isn’t bad either, the only notable omission being seat heaters, odd in something with leather-like upholstery. On the list are LED headlights and DRLs, auto high beam, and all the active safety gear contributes to a strong five-star ANCAP result. Figure also on dual zone air, a 20cm touch screen, comfort entry, an eight-way driver’s seat, sat nav, and parking sensors each end. You appreciate a wireless phone charger. Also new is an electronic handbrake, replacing the former foot-operated device.
The big sedan sector continues to shrink, now two per cent of the total, but with attractive pricing and hybrid offerings Toyota should continue to be a significant player.
|Model||Toyota Camry ZR V6|
|Engine||3456cc, V6, 224kW/362Nm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed auto, front-wheel drive|