The world’s number one hybrid manufacturer, Toyota, has decided to show how serious they are in producing clean cars in India by arranging a drive to let us get a first hand experience of the 2015 Camry Hybrid. Though the Japanese giant will insist this is an all new hybrid flagship model, but the Camry is more of a facelift, which was needed for sometime now. Though this car offers many features, a spacious cabin and comfortable seats, it never really became a popular choice. The problem is that sedans priced in the Rs 25-30 lakhs segment end up making way for the mighty German sedans. They are more expensive and are tight in space, but buyers aspire to the luxury brands from Munich and Stuttgart. As a result the Japanese cars are left high and dry. But this time Toyota has a plan that doesn’t solely rely on the affluent angle rather on lowering the cost-per-kilometre with its hybrid technology and keep the environment clean.
Toyota, thankfully, has changed the Camry’s exteriors as it was ageing. The more angular front nose with a huge trapezoidal grille has added some character to the docile looking Camry. This massive air vent comes with a borderline chrome finish with fog lamps beautifully tucked inside the front bumper. The nose grille is slimmer now and has a thick chrome strip running across it. If that wasn’t enough for the Camry to show its new found attitude, the new head lamps with integrated LEDs look like Katana blades. The dagger shaped turning lights are smartly placed right below the head lamps and in front of the wheel arches to give the driver additional visibility. Now the side profile remains the same and is the blandest part of the Camry. There are some minor changes in the rear like new tail lights and a lot more muscular rear bumper.
The cabin continues to feel like an airy lounge with some upgraded features. Toyota has beautifully used both wood panels and chrome inserts making the interiors feel classy as a yacht. The new u-shaped centre console gets a touchscreen entertainment system, a 3-zone climate control, which can set individual temperatures for the driver, front and rear seats. The air conditioner also purifies the air thanks to the nanoe technology, which lets you breathe clean air. The seats remain big and comfortable, and pampers you like a ‘Lazy Boy’ recliner would. The rear seats recline back by 8 degrees making the ride a relaxed one. As it is summer time, chances of the sun beating down your neck is highly likely. So by just the press of a button the sunshade covers the rear windscreen.
The heart or the engine of the Camry hybrid remains the same. It is powered by a 2.5-litre, 159bhp petrol engine assisted by a 141bhp electric motor. It has a total power of 202bhp and not 300bhp because both the motor and the engine don’t hit top range output together as this lets the Camry balance both power and mileage. It is still a very smooth car, with linear acceleration, which can also be quick thanks to the torque’s pulling power. The Camry comes in two driving modes Eco and EV. The Eco mode is when it’s on hybrid power. The acceleration is smooth and the CVT gearbox ensures there is enough punch in the engine and the driving experience remains seamless. The EV mode is all about the 1.6 AH nickel-metal-hydride battery letting the Camry combat stop-start traffic by being a pollutant free car, and it can run for a couple of kilometres under 40kph.
Apart from its looks, everything else about the Camry hybrid remains the same. You may wonder why Toyota is trying so hard to make this model a mainstream one. For starters, they sold 523 units of the hybrid in 2014 compared to 197 units of the petrol Camry. This shows that people want to buy a clean car. Therefore, Toyota wants to make the hybrid model as affordable as possible, by being the first car manufacturer to assemble a hybrid car in India. And now with the government’s new FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme, Toyota will straight away slash Rs 70,000 as rebate. But the Camry hybrid still remains an expensive option as it is available at Rs 31.92 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. The Camry is a luxurious car, which comes with acres of cabin space and has all bells and whistles. It is a good option as it provides unbelievable comfort, but it lacks the clout of a luxury brand like the Germans do, which might go against the Camry.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Engine: 2,494cc / in-line / 16 Valves / 4 Cylinder / DOHC
Electric motor: 6.5 AH/ Nickel-metal Hyride
Transmission: CVT automatic
Engine output: 159bhp @ 5,700rpm
Engine torque: 213Nm @ 4,500rpm
Motor output: 141bhp
Motor torque: 270Nm
Total output: 202bhp
Fuel economy: 19.16kpl (ARAI figures)
Price: Rs 31.92 (ex-showroom, Delhi)