I’m a sucker for space and good furniture. When I can afford one, I want a reasonably spacious home, wherein I can arrange all the wood and steel furniture that I’ve sketched and shaped in my mind since – I don’t know – forever!
I’ve always imagined my ‘dream’ house to be a certain way – the living room would be elegant and subtle with Adirondack and Storsele chairs and low-set couches, stylishly complimented by a deep brown coffee table, while my lounge space would have Ball chairs and Bean Bags spread all over. But there’s always a need for a moveable sofa – something that you can just lift and put wherever your heart desires.
On a separate (but related) note – stay with me here – my daily schedule is such that I rarely ever get to watch primetime shows on the television. My mother, on the other hand, is enthralled by the ridiculously absurd music of a typical Ekta Kapoor-esque soap, and she enjoys it thoroughly. I don’t watch those sorts of shows, or those sorts of channels. My television viewing time comprises of some really skinny international model who, uncomplainingly, tries to sell a bag-full of some special tea that she wants me to believe will rid me of this beer-belly that my frame is adorned with. And, when she’s on a break, her friend comes on to advertise this ‘super luxurious’ inflatable sofa. And that reminds me of my need for a movable sofa, and what do I do? Yes, as stupid as it may seem, I call, order, and pay-up when the damn thing arrives. Now, momentarily, I feel really happy – it’s comfortable, I bought it for what seemed like a reasonable amount, and no one would have something like it. Except, four of my friends, quite a few neighbours, and a couple of office mates, too, have the same thing – blimey!
The Toyota Camry is exactly like that sofa – everyone and their grannies seem to have one (remember this is still one of the best selling cars in what was once the largest car market on the planet, the USA), and it’s a super comfortable thing. Just that it has wheels. Review over! Ok, no – there’s a bit more to this ‘all-new’ Camry, which is essentially the same model that is sold in Russia as well.
I remember, when in 2002, Toyota introduced the XV30 platform in India, I didn’t quite like the way it looked. There was no art anywhere. Even the Hyundai Sonata with its Jaguar-Mercedes styling had some theatre to it, but not the Camry. And then I drove it, and completely dismissed it as just a grand-dad’s set of wheels. Toyota tried to charm me when they introduced the sixth generation (outside Japan), and they managed it. It was stylish, unlike the then bestseller – the Honda Accord. I still think the previous generation Camry is quite a looker. Maybe even better than the current model from some angles.
But I’m not even remotely trying to say that the current generation Camry (XV50) looks half bad. There’s a bold look to the car now – it’s all sharp and full of acute angles. Hiroyuki Metsugi, who designed the previous gen Camry, was surely a man obsessed with the sensuous flow of curves and didn’t quite use knifes and rulers when moulding his thoughts into physical shapes. And, age notwithstanding, it still looks quite attractive – like a graciously ageing woman who still sends the boys’ hearts aflutter when she walks down the road. The new one, on the other hand, is like a stiff Australian with a properly dapper look. I think that may have something to do with its designer – Nick Hogios. He’s Australian by the way.
Now, I’m not too fond of assertive announcements. And the chrome all over the front of the Camry sort of shouts out its presence – it makes an impact certainly, and it does have a Lexus (Toyota’s luxury brand internationally) vibe to it, but it’s just not to my taste. I do like the way the Camry looks from the back though. I love the way the tail lamps are shaped, and the rear three-quarter is perhaps the best viewing angle for this new exec saloon.
The big doors opens up to reveal an equally big cabin, and the colours used inside give it an airy feel that very few cars can match. Sadly, though, environmentalists won’t cry foul at seeing the wood finish plastic because it looks just that – plastic. The overall interior quality could be a bit better in general, considering this is a car that’ll battle it out with some quality-obsessed German rivals. But the Camry does one thing exceedingly well – comfort. The seats offer massive support in all the crucial areas, and there’s plenty of space for even one of your bodyguards to stretch out in comfort – should you have need for them. And it’s very well appointed as well, with just about every piece of equipment that you can think of.
The Camry is powered by a 2.5 litre, dual VVT-i engine. And, while it is petrol only, it’s claimed to be more efficient than the previous gen. There’s a healthy 181 horsepower at your disposal that, coupled with 233Nm, should make rapid movement a regular affair with the Camry. But rapid movement is not what the Camry is about. Comfort and reliability – while making a statement at the same time – is what the Camry is good at. Yes, it is refined, and even fairly fast, but the engine just doesn’t have any character. The conventional automatic 6-speed tranny is also best suited for a relaxed golfing day sort of an affair, rather than kicking the ball from the mid-field and getting yourself dirty on the field when it rains.
The Camry’s dynamic capabilities aren’t confident that you’d fire your chauffer and have your secretary sit as a co-passenger. The Camry is a statement of luxury, and your secretary should ideally compete with the chauffer to open the rear door for you. Enjoy it for the comfort and peace of mind that it provides and you’ll be fine.
I wish I could take the rear bench of the Camry and make it my movable sofa, but I can’t. So, I’m going to get back to finding a two-seater that’s a bit more unique, while you should look out for the new Camry that will have hit showrooms by the time you read this – and it should be more competitively priced as well, since this model is assembled here as opposed to simply driven off a ship like the last gen Camry.
|Engine||2,494cc / 16 Valves / DOHC / Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i)|
|Transmission||6-Speed, Automatic / Front-wheel drive|
|Power||179bhp @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||233Nm @ 4000rpm|
|XFactor||At being a rolling sofa, no car in its segment ever came close to the Camry. And it’s much the same even now!|