Toyota Camry hybrid
By Bill McCarthy
‘A Toyota what?’, said a neighbour. He could be forgiven for not recognising the name as the Camry has not been around in this country for a while and he is quite young.
Toyota says increasing customer interest in and demand for hybrid vehicles have paved the way for its return to the UK after an absence of 15 years.
The Camry does buck the trend a little, a mid-sized full hybrid family saloon where the crossover/SUV seems to rule.
But it is cheap at 31k for a hybrid, has head-turning looks and excellent performance, matched by good economy and is packed with standard kit. Performance comes via a powerful 2.5 litre petrol engine, mated to an electric motor and lithium-ion battery.
It is the eighth generation of the model and is built on the firm’s GA-K platform which means it sits lower to the ground, delivering a sleek profile. The front features a a slim grille, flanked by narrow headlights with LEDs and daytime running lights.
In addition a much larger trapezoidal lower grille occupies almost the full width of the bumper, which the firm says are designed to be reminiscent of the twin hulls of a catamaran. It certainly gives it a distinctive look. The smart rear end and alloy wheels, complete a pleasing and contemporary design.
The interior features a mixture of dark and shiny in the shape of leather soft touch finishes with chrome trim and a cockpit packed with goodies.
Centrepieces are seven-inch multi-function screen and leather multi-function steering wheel, while the binnacle features two large information dials, which monitor how the hybrid system is distributing the energy between engine, battery and electric motor.
The touchscreen is small compared to some prestige competitors, but is supplemented by by buttons and controls major functions such as infotainment, connectivity via Bluetooth and navigation.The power transfer can also be monitored here.
There’s also a smartphone charging pad, but on the downside, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.
It definitely has an upmarket feel with heated, powered leather seats, while the centre console houses the gearshift, two large drink holders and a large bin for odds and ends.
Standard kit on this model includes dual zone air con, footwell lights, an ambient door panel lighting and auto headlamps, smart entry and push- button start, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
On the road, the car is a comfortable place to be, with the clever petrol engine electric motor automatically switching modes, while the smart suspension delivers a comfortable experience for occupants, particularly on longer journeys. Bump and lumps in the road are soaked and it is an excellent motorway cruiser with road, engine and wind noise muted.
Full hybrid system output is 215bhp and CO2 emissions are from 120g/km with fuel consumption of between 50.44 to 53.30mpg (WLTP) for this Design model and 50.44 to 51.36mpg for the Excel.
The car also has an EV button for electric power only where it can be driven at low speeds over short distances with zero carbon emissions, providing there is power in the battery. Where power is down the self-charging mode from the petrol engine delivers charge back to the battery. The information display tells the driver what is going on.
The driver can also select Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes using the Drive Mode Select switch. While sport mode does sharpen things up, 60mph is hit in a very respectable 8.5 seconds, the roar between shifts in the CVT box can be a bit disconcerting.
The car is also packed with safety kit including Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems which comprise a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control , lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, sway warning and automatic high beam. In addition there is a full complement of airbags and hill start assist.
A welcome return to a car many may not have heard of, but as electric power units continue to grow, it has plenty to offer. At a shade under £31k, it offers pretty good value for money, not to mention the five year, 100,000 mile warranty for peace of mind.
Toyota Camry Design 2.5 litre hybrid
Mechanical: 215bhp, 2487cc, four cylinder petrol engine and electric motors driving front via CVT auto gearbox
Max speed: 112mph
0-60mph: 8.3 seconds
Combined mpg: 50-53 (WLTP)
Insurance group: 31E
CO2 emissions: 98 g/km
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles