Toyota’s New Camry is now only being sold as a hybrid vehicle in Ireland.
The model was discontinued in Europe back in 2004 when diesel was king and Camry lost out as it was only available with a petrol powertrain. But the model remained one of the brand’s best-selling global cars.
Toyota has been at the forefront of moving towards a more eco-friendly motoring environment for over 20 years since the first Prius hybrid was introduced and now sells almost exclusively self-charging hybrid models.
Camry arrived here last year along with its hybrid Corolla and RAV 4 siblings. All now drive in zero emissions mode more than 50pc of the time which is ideal for city driving. Older motoring fans will realise that this new version looks so very different from before as it has been revamped inside and out.
It is a fine example of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) platform and represents a major step change from that former model. The TGNA platform provides a low centre of gravity, a very rigid body and advanced double wishbone suspension which provides really good roadholding and ride comfort for all occupants. It also allows for very good build quality, a spacious layout design and plenty of user-friendly technology.
Beautifully elegant and sleek, but with that little bit of an edge to it for added interest, Camry is a big executive saloon that will appeal to those looking for an alternative to a premium SUV. So far this year, some 254 units have found Irish homes despite the three-month lock down of dealerships. I expect this figure to rise quite substantially with the second registration period underway.
All five occupants will travel in first-class comfort with a high degree of inside space front and rear. Rear headroom is very good while legroom is amongst best-in-class.
The stylish layout of the dash with its sweeping curves takes centre stage along with the 7-inch information display touchscreen. It’s certainly an upmarket look and there’s just enough Satin chrome on the dash, steering wheel and around the air vents to look the part, without being overloaded.
Doors are long and heavy and when opened wide, it’s difficult enough to reach out to grab the inside door handle to pull the door shut. I had to step out of the car to do so. My test car looked smart in a Graphite Brown exterior colour matched with lovely beige leather upholstery.
Camry was previously much loved by taxi drivers for its spacious interior and huge cavern of a boot which could swallow up large suitcases. The boot, with its 524 litres of luggage capacity, reaches all the way to the outer edges of the wheel arches. The arrangement of space is well designed as the wheel arches do not encroach on the boot space so you can fit a set of golf clubs in sideways.
The rear of the car is also elegant, modern and nicely sculpted.
Power is from Toyota’s 2.5 self-charging hybrid electric powertrain which combines a very efficient petrol engine with a large electric motor and high capacity hybrid batteries which are located low and more centrally under the rear seats to help with gravity, handling, and to save on space. The total system output is 218hp in a segment congested with diesels.
Automatic transmission is standard with all electric and hybrid cars.
The hybrid engine allows you to experience a really smooth drive while producing up to 90pc fewer NOX emissions and less C02 emissions compared to driving a diesel vehicle.
The car can do 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds and has a top speed of 180km/h. A quiet drive, thanks to this hybrid powertrain, is even more tranquil with the decent sound insulation that reduces road and wind noise.
Urban drivers can select a special EV mode button for city driving; otherwise, drive modes are Eco, Normal and Sport.
The official combined fuel consumption figure is 5.5 L/100kms (51.36mpg. I got 6.6 L/100kms which is 42.80mpg but this is a big car!), annual road tax is €190. The tank holds 50 litres of petrol.
Grades are Camry Hybrid (from €39,750); Sol from €40,750, and Platinum from €42,950. All prices are ex works but include VAT.
Even the entry level model gets a very decent amount of standard spec like Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system, 6 speakers, 3-spoke leather steering wheel, power-adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s seat, parking sensors, LED headlights and DRLs, rear privacy glass, spare wheel, heated door mirrors, 7-inch touchscreen, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, as well Toyota’s Safety Sense system. This feature provides a set of advanced driver assistance technologies like Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and many others.
The best-selling Sol grade adds on satellite navigation, leather seat trim, heated front seats (front seats get power adjustments) and leather inner-door trim.
My review car, the top Platinum grade, added 20-spoke, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights (high & low beam), LED front fog lights, a very good Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert which detects a vehicle coming blindside when you are reversing out of a parking space, front and rear parking sensors, a wireless charger and Tiger Eye design wood inserts. Customers also get a choice of black or beige leather upholstery.
While I often complain of being blinded by thick A-Pillars in many cars which inhibits my visibility especially when approaching roundabouts, I don’t have this problem with Toyotas as their A-Pillars are quite thin and stretch so far forward allowing for longer front side windows and greater side visibility, so full marks to Toyota for this.
The 2020 Hybrid Battery Warranty is up to 15 years with Annual Hybrid Health Check.