Ask any petrol head about where his/her loyalty lies and you’re sure to hear never ending chatter about machines which evoke the joys of driving, cars which are built with the sole purpose of delighting the person in the driver’s seat. But the sound of squealing rubber isn’t a melody to everyone’s ears, and some would rather appreciate the world outside as they stay cosseted in a cabin that nestles and caresses their passenger bones. There are cars purpose built for such a job too, and the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is just that car.
Images: Suraj Viswanathan
It is back in a new avatar after a neat haircut, a shave and some new cufflinks. Since it happens to be the same soul inside, only the formal attire now changed and crisply ironed, let’s take a look if the new 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid has what it takes to be the centre point of some water cooler gossip.
Also Read: An exhaustive review of the Camry Hybrid
Head on, the first thing that strikes at your planet conscious heart is that massive air dam which overshadows all other elements that have also paid a visit to an image consultant. Lined by a parabolic chrome strip, it is underscored by another dog bone like adornment of shine in the chin area. Round shaped fog lamps are also swallowed in, nestled in an angled housing.
Accompanying the bold air dam are vertical blinkers which look pretty sassy on their own.
Move up and you’re greeted by a strip of chrome that covers the width of the car, sitting below the bonnet’s shut line, capped by another bar that sits dead in the centre. Since the air dam decided to go bold in this updated Camry, compared to the outgoing car, the grille has shrunk in size, however, still retains the Toyota logo that loves its blue eye liner.
The headlight unit which used to run deep into the grille with a sharp edge, now gets a crest at the bottom, although the internals remain just as impressive with a twin project setup in each unit. Corolla Altis – like DRLs find their way inside this time.
Sideways, it is unmistakably a Camry, although the alloy wheels follow a fresh design pattern, the rest soldiering on unchanged.
The rear has thankfully shed the excess chrome it had been slapped with on the outgoing model, with only two strips making the area look more sober and classy now.
The all-LED tail-light units have been slightly redesigned, while reflectors have been repositioned in the bumper, making the rear look more elegant and less busy when compared to its predecessor.
Cabin and Features
The Captain Planet appeal aside, the Camry’s lure is pleasingly evident once you open the door and step inside. Every nook and corner gleams with quality and the cabin has a soothing aura surrounding it.
While it is mostly unchanged from how things were on the outgoing model, the AC control panel is new with a more modern unit, and there is now a colour display that sits right in the centre of the instrument cluster.
It displays the fancy energy monitor and all other vehicle parameters so that the driver doesn’t need to take his eyes too far off from the road.
With two individual reclining rear seats, a ventilation function for the front chairs and an excellent climate control system, the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid scores high on luxury and is an opulent space that cocoons and pampers once you’re headed back home after the closing bell.
A few images which explain more about the feature packed cabin:
Front chairs are supremely comfy
They get a ventilation feature too
Rear seats get individual power recline feature
A massaging feature would’ve added to the five star experience
Quality of materials is typical Toyota
That steering wheel looks attractive and is a joy to hold
3-zone climate control has individual temperature settings even for the rear passengers
Notice how even the Start/Stop switch fits flush
Both front seats are powered, although only the driver gets a lumbar support switch
That carpet will surely attract a lot of stains if your fancy shoes manage to get some dirt inside
Electrochromic mirror adds to the mile long feature list
Back benchers can adjust the front passenger seat with those buttons on the backrest
Parking brake is foot operated
Front central armrest is also a refrigerator that runs really deep and can swallow a 1-liter bottle with ease
So that the lip gloss goes where intended
Rear windshield suncreen is electronically operated and goes down on its own when the gear lever is slotted in reverse
Gadget freaks will love that screen and the information it displays
One for the master and one for the dame
Both front seat backrests get grab handles for the rear passengers
This one for that Cuban
Oh and there’s a traction control switch too!
How does it drive?
Mechanically unchanged, the 2494cc, four-cylinder 2AR FXE DOHC VVT-I, conventional petrol motor develops an identical 160 PS of power at 5700 rpm and 213 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm like it did in the outgoing model. It works in nexus with a permanent magnet synchronous motor that makes 143 PS and 270 Nm of twist, powered by a Nickel metal hydride battery pack. Shaking hands and dancing together, both power sources churn out a combined output of 205 PS.
Once you floor the gas pedal, the spike of power leads the front to torque steer, although it is only a slight twitch on the front wheels that doesn’t require your chauffeur to be trained by Petter Solberg. Coasting along, at low speeds, the drive keeps alternating between all-electric and gasoline mode, while the batteries replenish themselves during deceleration, also taking assistance from the engine at times.
There is an EV mode which couldn’t be tested, as we failed to charge the batteries enough, although when full of juice, in the EV mode alone, the Camry Hybrid can be driven for a maximum of 2 km. Good enough when you have to sneak into that parking lot without making any noise.There’s an ECO mode too, which reduces the air-con’s efficiency and wants your right foot to be a miser in order to maximize efficiency.
In normal mode though, the Camry Hybrid packs a decent punch, both power sources working together to spin the front wheels as fast as they can. The e-CVT’s rubber band effect does dampen the driving experience, only slightly though, as the petrol motor starts sounding pretty booming, a glance on the speedometer making you realize that all that isn’t translating into a great deal of momentum. The steering remains feather light at all speeds with minor weight build-up.
For all its girth, the Camry Hybrid handles alright and isn’t a corner carver, but what impresses and matches the car’s persona is the stellar ride quality that overshadows one’s obsession with dynamics and makes this Toyota an object of admiration. That with an impressively quiet cabin that keeps all sorts of noises outside, you really could celebrate World Yoga Day in the backseat.
We are rather serious with that, you see the air that you breathe inside is treated by nano technology in the air con system that releases positive ions which moisturize your skin, hair and deodorize the cabin. Quite dandy we’d say. Oh and it works!
If delighting yourself while in the driver’s seat is your thing, you’re better off looking at the conventional Camry or maybe another car. Don’t get us wrong, the Camry Hybrid will delight to an extent if you ever find yourself piloting it, but it is those other three thrones you’d buy this car for. What you’d also buy it for is unique hybrid wizardry working underneath your influential corporate behind, technology that is set to become the norm for all the cars that we drive in the future and which also rings the death knell for the gasoline engine. A fossil fueled partner which it works in conjunction with unassumingly right now, while hiding a dagger somewhere in one of those electric motors it will stab the combustion system with someday.
The Camry Hybrid as of now then is a trophy car, one you can flaunt to earn respectful nods from employees who firmly believe in your “Save Our Planet” C.S.R projects. A trophy which you can be seated in and revel in the joys of being successful while knowing you’ve done your bit to save that melting iceberg somewhere at the ends of the earth.
A few more images
Spare wheel is an alloy too. Yokohama premium rubber is specifically developed for muted performance
One might think there are too many buttons on the wheel, but it’s easy to get used to
Parking camera is more of a necessity in the city for a car of this size
Little things that can make a difference
Scuff plates shine on all four entrances
Power, aux-in and USB sockets are neatly hidden behind a door
Space for your MJ’s
That display looks straight out of an Airbus
For the times when you start missing those powerpoint presentations
And then it lets you pick the colour…
Take a good look, this is what the tachometer’s future looks like
The Camry is better at MS Excel than you
Your key to the world of hybrids
Controls for park assist and ORVMs
Boot size is pretty good and notice how even that mat has been designed to make the place look neat
Price as tested: Rs 31,92,000 (Ex-showroom, Mumbai). Inclusive of Rs 70,000 customer incentive offered by the government on hybrid vehicles.
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Camry Hybrid comes with zebra-wood finish. Camry Petrol comes with crotch-wood finish.