Feline, powerful, dynamic, and intelligent. Almost a predator. That is what the new Camry really is, in short.
Brad Pitt on any given day is certainly attractive (ask the ladies), but a buffed up Pitt a la 'Troy' is something else altogether.
That, in a nutshell, describes the new luxury sedan from the Toyota stable, the Camry. What's so special about the new Camry, you say? Lots, as a matter of fact. Looks, for one. Power, for another.
The earlier fifth-generation model launched in India in 2002 had about as much individuality and personality as the villain's henchman's left-hand man in a Hindi potboiler. Sure, he got the job done, but no one actually noticed his presence.
All that has changed with the sixth-generation model launched recently. With a low, feline presence, the new Toyota Camry exudes a powerful, aggressive halo, and is, in Toyota's words, ''a seamless fusion of dynamism and intelligence''. Few will disagree.
The Toyota Camry has a long and distinguished history. It has been the best-selling car in the largest car market in the world, the United States of America, for nine of the last ten years. In these years, it has won a series of accolades, with USA Today declaring it as ''the car that had the most impact on the US market from 1975 to 2000'' and Motor Trend calling it ''The car Toyota's rivals wish they could build''.
This car originally started its life as the Toyota Celica Camry in January 1980 for the Japanese home market, and underwent several transformations over the years. This is a car that has seen gradual improvement, with succeeding generations being launched at regular intervals, the current one being the completely redesigned sixth-generation model launched in March 2006.
The importance of the Indian market is underlined by the fact of its India launch only a few months after the car was introduced to the Japanese and American consumers. The car is selling well in the luxury D segment, its chief competitors being the Honda Accord and the Skoda Superb.
The Camry was adjudged the best-designed car of the year on Indian roads by reputable automobile publication Top Gear in December 2006. Prior to that, international acclaim had come its way in November, when Motor Trend named it the Car of the Year. That itself should give an idea of its standing in the looks department. The Toyota Camry has always been distinguished-what the new Camry has done is add some style to the class.
It still retains its chauffeur-driven-by-default dignity, but the well-heeled suited passenger wouldn't mind having a go at the wheel himself, such is the attraction of the lower, cooler, speedier, more dynamic look. With a longer wheelbase on the same overall length of the earlier generation reducing the overhangs, and the scoop edges applied both on the inside and outside of the car, the new appearance conveys strength and muscularity. The higher waistline twin exhausts and 16-inch alloy wheels further reinforce this impression.
The new distinctive grille is flanked by wedge-shaped HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps with retractable cleaners. Toyota claims these lights ensure ''brighter and whiter light for increased forward visibility'', and also feature auto-levelling feature depending on vehicle load conditions. Another innovative feature is the ''rain-sensing wiper'' which turns itself on when it detects rain on the windscreen. There is also an antenna printed on the rear glass for clear reception. However, it lacks the very useful parking sensor and the very luxurious sunroof provided by the Skoda Superb.
The intelligent design extends into the interiors too, where the space offered has increased over the earlier generation. This car comes fully-loaded, with standard features like a six-CD, six-speaker, in-dash sound system (MP3 and WMA compatible), a multi-information display (giving details like ambient temperature, average speed, cruising range etc.), dual-zone air-conditioning, and steering wheel-mounted control buttons for the audio, air-conditioner and information display systems. The steering wheel also features tilt and telescopic adjustment.
Toyota has developed a new colour called 'greige' for the interiors, which provides an airy and soothing experience. The audio system continues the distinctive branding by greeting one with the message ''Welcome to Camry''. The powerful AC comes with many additional features like Right/Left independent temperature control (for front passengers), a separate rear vent (for back passengers), and Plasmacluster technology and Minus Ion Generator for purification purposes.
This car is a genuine five-seater, and all five seated can expect to travel in luxurious comfort in their leather-lined seats, unheated however, unlike the Skoda Superb. The available space is utilized to the maximum by providing several storage spaces for knick-knacks, like accessory boxes, ashtray and cup holders, console box and numerous pockets. As regards safety features, the Camry has all the usual refinements of its class, including SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) driver, passenger, curtain shield and side airbags, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) and vehicle stability control.
The Toyota Camry is built around an impact-absorbing structure designed to disperse the energy of an accident around the entire body thereby minimizing cabin deformation. The head of the passenger is further protected by energy-absorbing material on the dashboard and whiplash effect minimized by the innovative seat design that supports the head and neck simultaneously in the event of a rear collision.
The Toyota Camry may be a muscular Brad Pitt, but is certainly no Arnold Schwarzenegger in the power department. The 2.4L 4-cylinder DOHC inline engine is quite a performer, but no match for the Honda Accord V6 priced at a lower level. This is a remnant of the previous generation, but suitably modified for better power delivery, less noise and lower emissions. It delivers a peak output of 167 bhp @ 6000 rpm (beating the older version by 10 bhp), and has a torque of 224 Nm @ 4000 rpm. As regards torque, the clear winner in this class is the Skoda Superb, delivering 350 Nm @ 1250 rpm. This translates to superior pulling power.
The top-end automatic variant comes equipped with an all-new five-speed transmission system with ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission), which utilizes advanced technology for a smooth shift feel and more linear acceleration. The Camry's defeat to the Accord in this section is also due to Toyota's refusal to arm the Camry with the 3.5L V6 engine that is an option in other markets. Maybe Toyota is waiting to unleash that powerhouse at a latter stage after testing the waters with a lesser version. That will certainly add some pace to the stylish face. Otherwise, the Honda Accord's V6 delivering 223 horses will continue beating the Toyota Camry hollow at the races.
The McPherson suspension at the front and dual-link struts at the back provide an extremely comfortable ride, swallowing up all bumps and potholes that are characteristic features of Indian roads. Another feature, the insanely high speed-breaker, does manage to scrape the undercarriage.
Of course, how can we forget fuel efficiency? As can be expected from a car of this class and weight (1985 kg), it is not earth shattering. But it is not an inveterate gas-guzzler either, providing a respectable 7.6 km/l in the city and 13.4 km/l on the highway. In this also, it beats the Accord V6 marginally, but in turn is beaten comprehensively by the Skoda Superb. However, the Accord 2.4L gives the best mileage of 8.3 km/l in the city.
Where the Toyota Camry loses out to the Honda Accord is in the prices game. The Accord, although sporting a more powerful engine with two extra cylinders in the V6 variant, costs a whopping 3 lakh less than the Camry (5 lakh if you consider the automatic transmission). One of the reasons is of course the fact that while the Accord is indigenously manufactured, the Camry is imported as a CBU (Completely Built Unit). If Toyota manages to lower costs by building the car or some parts locally, its sales potential will get a shot in the arm. The Skoda Superb is even costlier.
Notwithstanding the high costs, 20.77 lakh and 22.40 lakh for the manual and automatic transmission variants (both prices ex-showroom Mumbai), this car is still a bestseller. With the Toyota Camry, the staid senior executive just got himself a jazzier ride.
A comparison of the base versions of the Toyota Camry and its two main competitors, the Honda Accord and the Skoda Superb, is given below:
|Parameters ||Toyota Camry W1 |
|Honda Accord 2.4Vti-L |
|Skoda Superb 2.5Tdi |
|Dimensions || || || |
|Overall length ||4815 mm ||4830 mm ||4803 mm|
|Overall width ||1795 mm ||1820 mm ||1765 mm|
|Overall height ||1505 mm ||1465 mm ||1469 mm|
|Wheelbase ||2720 mm ||2740 mm ||2803 mm|
|Ground clearance ||165 mm ||155 mm ||148 mm|
|Front track ||1550 mm ||1555 mm ||1515 mm|
|Rear track ||1535 mm ||1555 mm ||1515 mm|
|Front headroom ||940 mm ||NA ||960 mm|
|Front legroom ||1133 mm ||1180 mm ||1210 mm|
|Boot space ||587 litre ||420 litre ||528 litre|
|Kerb weight ||1480 kg ||1450 kg ||1604 kg|
|Fuel tank capacity ||70 litre ||65 litre ||63 litre|
|Fuel efficiency || || || |
|Mileage (city) ||7.9 km/litre ||8.3 km/litre ||8.2 km/litre|
|Mileage (highway) ||11.3 km/litre ||12.4 km/litre ||12.8 km/litre|
|Mileage (overall) ||8.6 km/litre ||9.1 km/litre ||9.1 km/litre|
|Performance || || || |
|Maximum speed ||199 Km/Hour ||208 Km/Hour ||187 Km/Hour|
|0-100 kmph ||12.4 seconds ||11.8 seconds ||13.2 seconds|
|80-0 kmph ||29.2 metres ||31.0 metres ||41.1 metres|
|Engine || || || |
|Engine type ||VVT-I ||4-stroke, i-VTEC ||2.5L V6|
|Displacement ||2362 cc ||2354 cc ||2496 cc|
|Power ||167bhp@ 6000 rpm ||142bhp@ 5500 rpm ||162bhp@ 4000 rpm|
|Torque ||224Nm@4200 rpm ||196Nm@4700rpm ||350m@1250rpm|
|No. of cylinders ||4 cylinder ||4 cylinder ||6 cylinder|
|Transmission || || || |
|Transmission type ||Manual ||Manual ||Automatic|
|Gears/Speeds ||5 Gears ||5 Gears ||5 Gears|
|Suspensions || || || |
|Front suspension ||McPherson Struts ||Independent Double Wishbone with Coil Spring & Stabilizer ||Multi link with four transverse control arms, coil springs, shock absorbers|
|Rear suspension ||Dual link strut type ||Independent 5-link Double Wishbone with Coil Spring and Stabilizer ||Compound link crank-axle with coil springs, anti-roll bar, gas shock absorbers |
|Brakes || || || |
|Front brakes ||Ventilated discs ||Ventilated discs ||Hollow discs|
|Rear brakes ||Disc ||Disc ||Disc|
|Wheels || || || |
|Wheel type ||Alloy ||Alloy ||Alloy|
|Wheel size ||15inch ||15inch ||16inch|
|Tyres ||205/65 R15 ||205/65 R15 ||205/55 R16|
|Price(Ex-showroom) || || || |
|Price (Mumbai) ||20.77 lakh ||15.45 lakh ||22.93 lakh|