The rapidly depleting conventional power sources have left many in worries and our automotive industry is no different. Building hybrid car is seen as the next big thing and Toyota is a forerunner in this genre. The Prius is one such example, which has gained huge popularity across the globe as a 'celebrity' car and the Camry sedan is very well based on the same tech.
Toyota has recently launched the facelifted Camry Hybrid in India, which they say accounts for 70-75% of total Camry sales. The reason being that Toyota became the first manufacturer to locally assemble a hybrid car in India and that too the Camry. The cost reduction and enhanced technology ensure that you drive an affordable luxury hybrid car which pretty much drives like any conventional car.
Here's how we felt about the facelifted Toyota Camry Hybrid.
While the Hybrid version of the Camry is similar to the regular Camry, it is the 'blue' colored Toyota logo both in front and back that differentiate between the car, apart from the 'Hybrid' badging. The Camry, according to its makers is designed with utmost importance to the aerodynamics. Be it the ORVMs or be it the body linings, everything is designed to reduce drag as much as possible.
The facelifted Camry gets a redesigned bumper up front with vertical stacked LED DRLs. The headlights are also LED infused and the big hexagonal grille circumscribed by chrome strip and integrated with fog lights make the front fascia aggressive. The overall look of the new Camry makes it looks like a Lexus made for budget oriented people, though in India, it is still no budget car. The rear is not as flashy as the front, but holds its own charm with a big chrome strip flowing throughout the boot.
Being a hybrid car, the Camry will not give you any thrills if you are an avid driver. That said, the Camry is meant to be chauffeur driven and it's evident when you sit in the rear seats, which are a treat to say the least. The armrest gets all sorts of controls from climate control, stereo, blinds (both sides and rear) and even back seat angle, that can be adjusted to a maximum of 8 degrees, according to the comfort. Toyota has bestowed the rear with ample legroom, headroom and shoulder room and three adults can be easily accommodated with the arm rest folded.
The cabin in the front is quite similar to the pre-facelift Camry and is made with best quality material, be it the wood finish or the chrome accents. The front seats are equally comfortable and the 3-zone climate control system along with the air cooled seats helps you cope with the India's scorching heat. A noteworthy mention would be the blue backlit instrument cluster that gives you important information like the battery status, the mode in which car is running, average and everything else.
Engine, transmission and performance
While the exteriors and interiors of a car define the character of the car, it's the engine that is the talking point in the Camry Hybrid. After all, it is based on the same technology as the Prius, which makes it an insanely silent car, which could be eery sometimes, considering the amount of diesel cars we drive everyday. While you have to rely on the display in the instrument cluster to know the car has started, the pedestrians have to rely on your constant honks to know that a car is coming.
The facelifted Camry Hybrid is powered by the same 2.5-litre petrol unit that generates 160bhp of power, in combination with an electric motor with 44bhp. The car starts on the electric motor and runs on the same till you achieve 40kmph. Once you past this limit, the 2.5L engine will come into action and combined with the electric motor, give an economical run to the car. And if you are really willing to push the throttle, past 70kmpl, petrol unit through its CVT gearbox will run the car, though it is not as enthusiast friendly as you may think.
While the technology in the back will be complex, Toyota has left no stone unturned to make this car simple for us. So much so is the refinement of the engine, that the only sound you will hear in the cabin is the regenerative braking sound, when you brake and the sound of the tyres. The transition between the EV and ECO modes is quite and effortless and the only way to tell which mode you are running, is through the display gauge.
Ride and handling
Toyota’s are known for their ride and handling which makes them it the number one company in the world. And Camry Hybrid won't disappoint you either! The battery pack to drive the motor has been cleverly stacked within the wheelbase to maintain a good centre of gravity. Adding the battery and motor increases the weight and hence the suspension is stiffer to negate the bumpy ride. Overall, the steering response was well managed considering the added weight and size of the car. The only issue is, it is not as sporty as some of the German rivals, but it wasn't meant to be sporty in the first place, or was it?
Safety and features
Overall, the Camry is stuffed with many gizmos and safety features. The Camry comes loaded with four-airbags, Hill-start assist, Vehicle Stability Control (a function that applies the brakes to the wheel, which the car thinks is slipping) and the Traction control System. In terms of the features, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers varied connectivity, though we still miss the quintessential navigation system in the Camry.
The Camry hybrid is an ideal car for those who want a luxurious car and one that offers fuel efficiency, but want to avoid buying a clattery diesel engine. It's sharp styling on the outside ensures it's a viable alternative to the staid styling of the entry level luxury cars from Germany, making the Camry hybrid a convincing buy.