The bigger, more stylish and refined next generation of Toyota’s family favourite has made its South African début, fresh from Australia.

The bigger, more stylish and refined next generation of Toyota’s family favourite has made its South African début, fresh from Australia.

With more than 8,8 million Camrys sold since its introduction in 1980, this model has become one of Toyota’s most successful…and important.

The first immediate improvement is in the styling - new Camry is more modern and slightly less American-looking than its predecessor and has a drag coefficient of 0.29, one of the best in its class.

It’s also bigger all-round. Length is up by 35 mm, width by 15 mm, and it stands 70 mm higher. The wheelbase increases by 50 mm while the front overhang decreases by 15 mm and the rear overhang remains unchanged. There is 15 mm more headroom in front and 35 mm more headroom for rear seat passengers. Luggage space is claimed to have increased by almost 10 per cent.

Toyota has tried hard to improve on already impressive - some say Lexus-like - NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) levels. Advanced materials and strategically placed reinforcements, including in areas around the windshield, are utilised to minimise the source of annoying vibration noise. Sandwich panels are used in the front bulkhead and scuttle area to reduce engine and road noise intrusion. Height offsets between glass and body have been eliminated and the bonnet and windscreen wipers are now flush fitted for a reduction in wind noise.

Two engines are offered – an all new 2,4-litre all-aluminium four cylinder unit with counter rotating balance shafts (designated 2AZ-FE L4), and the 1MZ-FE 3-litre V6 engine that has proved so popular in the Camry since it was introduced a few years ago.

Maximum power available from the 2,4-litre engine is 112 kW at 5 600 r/min with peak torque of 218 Nm at 4 000 r/min. The V6 engine produces a healthy 145 kW at 5 600 r/min and 284 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min.

On the 2,4 model Xli there is a choice between either a five-speed manual transmission or Toyota’s Super ECT automatic transmission.

Shift response has been refined to provide a quicker shift. Key to this are a centrifugal fluid pressure cancelling system and a direct clutch fluid pressure control system.

The front suspension is of the fully independent MacPherson strut type and is mounted on a cradle type sub-frame to insulate the body from road noise and vibration. This sub-frame is also used to mount the engine, transmission and steering rack. Similarly, a fully independent MacPherson strut system is used at the rear. The rear suspension is mounted on an anti-vibration sub-frame that assists in reducing the transmission of road noise and vibration into the cabin.

Brakes are large diameter vented discs at the front (275 mm) and solid discs (269 mm) at the rear. ABS is standard across the range.

The interior is very much an evolution of the design found on the Corolla and features a modern co-ordinated two-tone colour scheme, further boosted by woodgrain finishes on top models.

Driver and front passenger airbags are standard across the range and are supplemented by seat mounted side airbags on the top of the range Camry 2,4 GLi and 3,0 V6 models. Front seat belts are fitted with pre-tensioners and force limiters. Front seat belts are height adjustable and three-point belts are provided for three passengers at the rear.

Power steering is speed sensitive to provide a precise feel at medium to high speeds. Steering-rack mounting bushes have been refined to provide a better steering feel. Tilt adjustment is standard.

Air-conditioning is standard on all models and is activated by a digital control panel. For the first time on the Camry cooling ducts have been provided in the rear of the centre console for rear seat passengers.

All models are fitted with advanced transponder key immobiliser systems. Engine ignition and fuel systems are neutralised until a positive ID code match is received between the key and the engine electronics. An alarm system with a panic alarm feature is included in the feature laden security system.

All three specification levels have disc brakes on all four wheels with ABS, cruise control, a full-size spare wheel, an adjustable speed alert to warn when preset speed limits are exceeded, multi-function display with trip computer, power windows with driver’s side one-touch down feature, height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel; electric remote external rear view mirrors, variable speed intermittent windscreen wipers, tinted glass all round; cup holders for front seat occupants; a centre console storage area with lid and auxiliary 12V power point; a RDS radio/CD combination with concealed antenna; and 60/40 split rear seat backrest. The rear windscreen demister is fitted with a timer. Remote fuel flap and boot openers are provided.

Additional equiopment on the Camry 3,0 V6 includes electrically operated moon roof; front fog lamps; illuminated sun visor mirrors for driver and front passenger; manually operated rear windscreen sun shade; sports type instrumentation; rear spoiler; leather seat facings, leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob, and full-range power adjustment for the driver’s and front passenger’s seats. A boot mounted CD shuttle is provided.

The five year/90 000 kilometre service plan introduced on the Corolla is also offered on the new Camry.

Prices:

Camry 2.4 XLi R213 600

Camry 2.4 XLi auto R229 545

Camry 2.4 GLi R244 355

Camry 3.0 V6 R322 165