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Car Review: Toyota's latest-gen Camry Hybrid is quietly impressive

Wednesday, 9 October 2013 - 2:08pm IST | Agency: OnCars.in

With Toyota entring the niche market of hybrids in India, there is a lot to look forward to.
  • OnCars.in

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Price: Rs 29,75,000

Design Review

The Himalayan Brown Bear is not a rare breed to us Indians. Hybrid cars are. For years, the Indian car market has seen constant evolvement in some form or the other and to this day, we cannot help but wonder how car buyers of today rarely shy away from writing cheques for newer breed of vehicles such as compact crossovers and premium hatchbacks.

But when it comes to hybrid vehicles, things are less compelling. The uncertainty probably lies within the belief that making use of two power sources to propel a car is not feasible just yet. Toyota India, however, thinks otherwise. Which is why the company has rolled out the Camry Hybrid – a more fuel efficient and eco-friendly version of the popular luxury sedan. We recently had a quick spin in it to tell you just how good it is at saving the environment.

Based on a regular Camry, this Hybrid version comes with little embellishments to differentiate itself from the former. Since the regular model already is a fairly good looking car, the added bling only lifts up the road presence. The front-end design benefits the most with redesigned headlamps, chrome infested fog lamps, new radiator grille and front bumper which features a wider air dam.

Toyota has also added bigger, 17-inch wheels although it’s shod in lower profile rubber from Yokohama. In contrast to the striking looking fascia, the rear-end looks rather tamed as there’s not much to differentiate between the Camry Hybrid and the regular model.

Overall, the Camry Hybrid is aesthetically well-rounded and there’s no denying the fact that it looks sedately premium, even in the company of formidable rivals including Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat.

Performance Review
The Camry Hybrid features not one but two sources of propulsion. One is the 2.5-litre VVT-I petrol engine and the other one is an electric motor. While the petrol engine belts out 160PS of power, the electric motor makes 45PS, taking the total output to around 202PS. In the real world, the car can be driven purely on electric power for short distances but once past 40kmph, the petrol engine will come into play.

As you would expect, the Camry Hybrid is dead silent at slow speeds. All you hear from the front is a gentle whir. When put in EV mode in which only the electric motor works, one can almost sneak up on other motorists! Then there’s the Eco mode. Here the 2.5-litre petrol engine works in combination with the electric motor to wring every ounce of performance available onboard.

With both the motors working, performance is fairly good although it goes without saying that the Camry Hybrid is not the car for driving enthusiasts. While the steering offers decent feedback, it isn’t as good as some of the other similarly priced offerings. The handling, as a result, is safe but uninspiring. Plus, there is only one choice of gearbox – an automatic e-CVT (electronic continuously variable transmission) – that is admittedly slow to react. Having said that; the rubber-band effect usually present with CVTs isn’t as obvious in this hybrid version.

Now, on to the all-important aspect of the Camry Hybrid – fuel efficiency. Toyota says the Camry Hybrid is capable of retuning close to 19 kmpl, making it one of the most economical luxury sedans on the road. During our stint with the car, we managed to attain 14.5 kmpl which is mighty impressive considering the size of the vehicle and the fact that there’s a petrol engine hiding under the hood.

With not many options to choose from when it comes to buying hybrid cars in India, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the more popular Prius are the only cars you will see on the road for a long time to come. While the Prius has been around for quite some time, Toyota has now added the Camry Hybrid, which offers all the distinctiveness of the Prius but with added comfort and practicality of a premium luxury sedan.  Despite tasting immense success all over the world, sales of the Prius never really took off here in India. Now with the launch of the new Camry Hybrid, it seems Toyota believes that there is a market for hybrid cars in India and that the Camry Hybrid can deemed as a workable alternative to regular petrol and diesel powered luxury sedans.

Read the complete review in OnCars.in.

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