By Samuel Ee
The seventh generation of the Toyota Camry may look slightly sportier but the new mid-sized sedan has actually acquired more refinement.
The new Camry gets a new shape with more well-defined lines for a smarter, sharper look. Of greater interest though, is that despite its unchanged dimensions, this once popular mid-sized sedan now boasts a lighter and more rigid body made of high-tensile steel.
At 4,825 mm long with a 2,775 mm wheelbase, the new Camry also benefits from improved interior packaging, resulting in a roomier cabin. The dashboard with faux stitching has been redesigned but does not depart from the familiar Toyota look and feel.
All the controls are logically located and there are some new features, like a 6.1-inch display screen that supports the navigation system and reverse camera, a six-speaker audio system, as well as auxiliary and USB ports conveniently located on the fascia.
For those in the back, the usual control buttons on the side of the front passenger seat for the rear passenger's use are still there. But a new feature is the forward collapsible front passenger seat headrest to give the rear passenger better forward visibility.
There are three engine options - 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre four-cylinder units, plus a petrol-electric hybrid - and all are imported from Thailand.
The 2.5-litre engine is new and employs dual VVT-i or dual variable valve timing for better low-end torque and elasticity.
In the Camry Hybrid, there is also a 2.5-litre petrol engine but it runs on the Atkinson cycle for increased efficiency. The previous Hybrid had a 2.4-litre petrol engine with single VVT-i and a lower total system output. For the new Hybrid, the performance of the petrol engine and electric motor are seamlessly integrated by the sophisticated hybrid drive system for a combined output of 205 hp, or up 15 hp. Torque of 213 Nm is also up 26 Nm.
With the small motor producing very high torque from zero rpm, the Camry has the ability to move off powerfully from stationary. The Hybrid zips from zero to 100 km in 8.6 seconds - faster than the 9.0 seconds previously and faster than the new Camry 2.5's 9.7 seconds. The strong acceleration also means this sedate-looking sedan is unusually fun to drive.