Neighbour unveils our new-gen Camry

The latest version of Toyota’s medium sedan has been revealed.


SPECIAL alert for fleet managers and taxi operators – the next-generation Toyota Camry presumably set to come on sale here before year-end has been unveiled.

The covers have not been by Toyota New Zealand – indeed, the Palmerston North crowd has yet to even comment on the car – but by our neighbour, which while soon cease building the outgoing format Camry for Australasia.

Toyota Australia has delivered an in-depth preview of the car, which it says will been on sale in November.

It seems highly likely the New Zealand range will duplicate our neighbour’s selection in all but badge convention – some nomenclatures across the Tasman have never transferred here.

As previously related, the model places onto Toyota’s new TNGA platform, which has improved torsional rigidity by 30 percent and is at the foundation of improvements to ride comfort, stability and handling.

Toyota assures this GA-K platform delivers a lower centre of gravity which contributes to making Camry more agile with better overall performance during accelerating, braking and cornering.

“The TNGA underpinnings have also created a new dimension of design freedom, resulting in a stylish and sporty silhouette that includes an extended wheelbase and a wider stance,” the brand says.

Handling, stability and ride comfort have benefited from a revised MacPherson strut front suspension and a new double-wishbone rear suspension, both of which feature newly developed shock absorbers.

The front suspension tower brace now makes use of a closed cross-section construction, which enhances dynamic prowess and stability.

The platform's light weight and rigidity comes from increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel and the application of a new moulding technology.

New construction techniques have led to the use of thinner panels for the roof, bonnet, boot lid, doors and front fenders - contributing to weight reduction.

Laser screw welding (with a greater number of weld points) has been incorporated at key junctures for increased rigidity.

Building on the Camry's reputation as an extremely smooth and quiet car, Toyota engineers incorporated extensive additional sound absorbing and insulation materials.

As is obvious from the images, the model has a sleeker profile with lower roof and bonnet lines that, the brand says, contribute to the car's low centre of gravity.

As expected, the car coming here will provide with a next-generation Toyota Hybrid System with an all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or a 24-valve DOHC 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine.

Petrol engines in both powertrains are equipped with an advanced direct-injection system while their transmissions offer sequential shifting to enhance the sporty driving experience.

Standard engine features include a variable cooling system, full variable oil pump and cooled exhaust gas recirculation.

The hybrid powertrain is based on an all-new 2.5-litre direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine that provides high power output with a smooth and highly refined operation.

Dynamic performance is assured due to optimal control of the engine working in concert with an electric motor (MG2), while exemplary energy efficiency is achieved by using both electric motors (MG1 and MG2) for hybrid battery charging.

Hybrid system combined output is 155kW. The petrol engine alone develops 131kW of power at 5700 rpm and torque of 221Nm at 5200 rpm while the electric motor develops 88kW at 4500rpm and 202Nm at 0-1500rpm.

In addition to its enhanced handling and driving performance, the hybrid version of the new Camry achieves outstanding fuel efficiency, expected to better t 4.5 litres per 100km, Toyota Australia says.

The make claims driving enthusiasts will appreciate four driving modes - EV, Normal, Eco and Sport - with the latter enhancing the car's acceleration. The Normal, Eco and Sport modes can each be used while EV mode is activated.

They can also customise their driving experience by using a new sequential shift system that allows for manual-like gear changes with the console-mounted shift lever or, on sporty grades, with paddle shifters.

A new Auto Glide Control helps to improve fuel efficiency by calculating an efficient coasting logic while using the Eco drive mode setting. For example, when the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal while approaching a red light, AGC adopts a setting that acts more like a neutral gear.

Toyota says Camry hybrid's driving characteristics and luggage space are improved through the hybrid system's battery being relocated from the boot to beneath the rear seat, positioning the battery weight at a lower centre of gravity axis and expanding the cargo area by 30 litres.

The redesigned nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery features a newly developed technology known as Hyper-Prime Nickel to boost performance in a smaller and lighter package.

The hybrid system's updated power control unit (PCU) plays a key role in improving the operational efficiency of this powertrain.

Thanks to improvements in the conversion efficiency of the PCU and the transaxle/electric motor, they combine to reduce energy loss by about 20 percent. Additionally, improvements to cooling system efficiency has reduced energy loss by about 10 percent.

Whereas the hybrid continues with a constantly variable transmission, the V6 is mated to a newly developed direct-shift eight-speed electronically controlled automatic.

The system offers three driving modes - Eco, Normal and Sport - and manual-style sequential shifts. Sporty variants are equipped with paddle shifters.

The brand claims the eight-speed gear train contributes to fuel economy. Low gear ratio improves acceleration performance while higher ratios deliver lower engine speeds for highway driving, contributing to enhanced quietness and ride comfort.

Styling changes are extensive. Camry features a slim upper grille and now has LED headlights as standard.

There are two distinctive lower grilles for added showroom appeal - one is a single, large opening with horizontal bars while sporty variants adopt large side intakes and a powerfully expressive gloss black mesh grille. 

Designers reduced Camry's overall height by approximately 25mm, pursuing a wind-cutting shape and improving aerodynamics while maintaining interior head room.

Striking character lines flow into prominent front and rear bumpers that frame grade-dependent 17, 18 and - for the first time on Camry - 19-inch alloy wheels.

Sporty variants will feature 19-inch black machine-finished alloy wheels and an aggressive body kit with a unique rear bumper and smoke-tinted rear combination lamps.

The redesigned interior is described as being “functional and futuristic with an emphasis on personal space and craftsmanship.” Surfaces employ premium soft-touch materials and reengineered front seats offer improved ergonomics and comfort

The model has a multi-information display (4.2 or 7-inch depending on grade) within the instrument cluster. A touch-screen audio display (7-inch or 8-inch) - that can also operate heating/cooling controls, Toyota Link connected mobility and satellite navigation where specified - 
is integrated into the centre console. A 10-inch colour head-up display is also available on certain models.

The car replaces a model that, while dominating the medium sedan sector, has nonetheless lost ground, largely as result of consumer abdication to like-dimensioned and priced crossovers and SUVs.

Toyota New Zealand’s sales effort for the car almost wholly focuses on its fleet potential, particularly as a taxi in four-cylinder hybrid form. Even so, it is now vastly outsold by the Corolla and RAV4, which also point to fleet – albeit mainly rental car – use.

The incoming car is the eighth-generation model. Toyota has yet to outline the production source; the potential for it coming out of Thailand seems strong, though the car might also be produced in Japan.

Presently, Camry representation is whittled down to the Atara, starting at $36,990.