Toyota Camry

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 22

For a starters, the new Camry is bigger, looks more like a Lexus and is no longer brought into India as a CBU. The local assembly should mean lower prices, but strangely, it is Rs.2-3lakhs dearer than the old model which was a full import and attracted more duty. So what exactly are you getting for your money? On the safety front, you only get two airbags, not the usual six that other cars in the segment give. There aren’t many featured to be had like sunroof, ESP, traction control etc, but what’s shocking is the lack of features like sun-blinds and audio controls for the rear that are often taken for granted in this segment.

From there, things get better. The interiors are well made with quality materials and the dashboard with its new touchscreen infotainment system looks expensive. The faux wood trim on the lower part of the centre console is a bit excessive, but compared to the plasticky interiors of the earlier model, this one looks much better. The seats are wide and quite comfortable. The backseat is also well shaped, with generous width, ample legroom and sufficient headroom for most adults. It is great to be chauffeured in, with the supple suspension and high profile tyres soaking up bumps on the road efficiently and silently.

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You do get a slightly bigger new 2.5litre engine with 178bhp instead of the earlier 2.4 with 162horses. This long stroke motor makes it very good to drive with very good linear acceleration and the 6-speed automatic is very smooth, though a bit slow to downshift. The Camry is best enjoyed cruising, and for that the creamy engine with its lazy gearbox is a great combination. Hoever this new Camry is also dynamically better exhibiting a new found agility and eagerness to change direction that was missing in the earlier model.

With no diesel and the highest price tag of them all, the Camry has landed squarely in the middle of a dwindling D segment where buyers are always expecting more and moving up to more aspirational brands. Sales won’t be helped by the fact that this is a CKD which means, unlike the earlier CBU models which were bought in big numbers by hoteliers, this won’t give them any EPCG benefits. With the new Camry,Toyota seems to have lost it completely.

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

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