Many throughout Ireland will welcome the return of the Toyota Camry. 15 years have passed since it disappeared from the range in Northern Ireland and 14 years in the Republic of Ireland. On its return, it is a very different car in many ways as it comes as no surprise to learn that it is now a Hybrid.
Entering the mid-size saloon market it stands out thanks to its powerful, self-charging hybrid electric powertrain and takes the company’s European hybrid electric line-up to eight models.
The new 2.5-litre Hybrid Dynamic Force power train delivers fuel efficiency, low emissions and quiet running with power and responsiveness with full system output at 215bhp/160kW and good news on emissions from as low as 98g/km and wallet pleasing economy, however on the European launch I was not able to give an accurate economy figure.
The new hybrid system includes Sequential Shiftmatic technology that allows you to make changes using a console-mounted lever, mimicking the operation of a conventional, six-speed automatic transmission and creating a more engaging driving experience.
The newcomer is a product of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) design and engineering philosophy, this places driving rewards and alluring styling on an equal footing with superb build quality, reliability and safety.
Now in its eighth generation, the new Camry will be on sale in more than 100 countries and to date has notched up more than 19 million sales worldwide.
Styling is very important to most and in this department with a wide, low and aerodynamically efficient exterior design, the Camry really stands out from its competitors.
The cabin floor and the seating hip points have been lowered, helping bring down the car’s centre of gravity, while the interior displays an overall fusion of style, comfort and craftsmanship. Comfy front seats, while the rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding configuration adding to the practical side of this new Toyota. Boot space is 524 litres.
New switchgear has been designed and employed to look and feel good, with optimum functionality.
The Human-Machine Interface (HMI) concept provides two information displays: a seven-inch multi-information display in the driver’s instrument binnacle; and a seven-inch centre console display incorporating the Toyota Touch 2 with Go multimedia and navigation system.
No surprise to learn that the new Camry comes with a host of safety aids and as I discovered, it is one of the quietest saloons currently available.
There are two grades in the Northern Ireland market, Design and Excel equipment grades and in the Republic of Ireland two grades also, Sol and Platinum. My test drive in Croatia was with a Platinum grade.
Keeping up the tradition of Toyota in supplying extremely well equipped cars, the new Camry is no exception and just a taste of what is offered, a choice of alloy wheel sizes, leather upholstery, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, smart entry and pushbutton start, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, heated and power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, seven-inch TFT multi-information display and Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system with seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Bluetooth and DAB. Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems are also included in the package, comprising Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with full speed range following, Lane Departure Alert with steering assist, Road Sign Assist, Sway Warning and Automatic High Beam. LED fog lights, LED dual-beam projector headlights, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with braking assist, wireless charging tray and Intelligent Clearance Sonar. Quite a comprehensive list you must agree and I must add that specifications vary across the different markets.
Behind the wheel, the new Camry has shed that decided American feel, a more European car in every sense of the word.
The car is developed from a clean sheet with design, technology etc in Japan. if you thought the earlier Camry models were boring and dull, think again because the new model delivers and over some twisty roads in Croatia I was surprised to discover a quality of drive, road holding and comfort which I did not expect.
The new Camry in terms of what it delivers comes very close to what you expect from a Lexus model.
Low cost of ownership will have appeal and if I am to list rivals, the following, Insignia, Passat, Mazda6 and Superb.