Published on April 6th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
Toyota 2.5 Hybrid and 2.0G Camry Road Test
Last week, members of the media were invited to test drive Toyota’s newly-launched Camry. The whole event centred around the new car’s emphasis on enhanced Noise, Vibration and Harshness dampening (NVH) performance and as well as outright engine performance. As a result, the new car is more than just a cosmetic upgrade over the last one, with two completely new powertrain options being offered. It comes in three variants, the base model 2.0E, a mid-spec 2.0G and a fully-laden 2.5 Hybrid version which sits as the top-of-the-line sedan offering for both the Camry nameplate and for UMW Toyota here in Malaysia.
Both the 2.0E and 2.0G come with the same drivetrain, with an interesting VVTi-W petrol engine and a six-speed transmission. The Hybrid model on the other hand has a 2.5 litre VVTi petrol engine paired to an electric motor which provide power through an E-CVT gearbox.
At the test drive event, we were given the opportunity to try out the 2.0G on the open road, while our experience with the 2.5 Hybrid was limited to a course that Toyota set up on the convention centre grounds.
It was evident that Toyota wanted us to bring attention to the performance and NVH enhancements of the new Camry 2.0G versus the outgoing model. They even went as far as to put their product up against competing vehicles, namely the Nissan Teana and Honda Accord.
Performance-wise, with 167PS, the new 2.0 VVTi-W (Variable Valve Timing – Intelligent Wide) in the new Camry does sit at the top of the pack quite noticeably. The 6-speed Super ECT automatic comes with a Sport Mode that adds a little engagement to the drive and despite its size, the car felt very composed throughout. The new engine is pretty unconventional. It can run both the Otto and Atkinson cycles; which enables the new car 12% better fuel economy and 13% more power when compared to the last Camry 2.0. They’ve also changed the fuel injection system. It now has separate twin-injectors for both direct and port injection.
NVH was also quite impressive with road and wind noises all but unnoticeable at highway speeds. What really came across was the sheer comfort that the 2.0G variant offered. Both the front passenger and driver had 8-way power adjustable seats with lumbar support. The leather and wood trim was a great improvement over the outgoing model, which featured an unnatural red-brown finish. But besides the upgraded materials and media displays, the overall interior layout transfers pretty much wholesale.
The 2.0G we were shown came with the optional bodykit. The new aesthetic is undoubtedly more aggressive and sporty, with more layers of chrome and plastic trim tacked on to emphasize Toyota’s new direction.
Meanwhile, at the test track, the Toyota 2.5 Hybrid was put through its paces in a more specific way. Its closest competitor, the 2.4-litre Honda Accord was used as a benchmark. The Camry did come with a slightly larger engine displacement AND an electric motor to supplement its acceleration, but given that both cars compete within the same price bracket, it was a fair pair-up.
The 2.5 Hybrid Camry took a slight lead in the drag race, of which we have footage.
Toyota proved their point, and there was definitely a LOT of power in the 2.5 Hybrid, but something so leather-clad and comfortable didn’t have to go fast to prove its worth. There were other more apt comparison tests, including one that put the Camry’s NVH into perspective. The suspension tuning on the Camry isn’t particularly bouncy, but it managed to absorb and transfer just about anything the testers could throw at it during the test without any degree of harshness. Honestly, the new Camry’s most thoroughly impressive characteristic was the way it rode; perfectly absorbant and quiet.
What’s more, the Hybrid system can be switched over to a near silent full-electric mode, which though limited, can be especially useful when looking for a car park space or in heavy traffic. There’s also an impressive blind-spot monitoring system that alerts drivers to potentially unseen vehicles using audio cues, even when reversing out.
Both Camry models turned out to be great all-round performers, delivering range-topping performance and comfort. The new sporty direction does make it seem like the Camry is going through a bit of an identity crisis, but it’s still a well executed product. The interior has really improved, with the new wood finishes being particularly tasteful and luxurious.
There’s a lot more to talk about regarding the specs on the new Camry models, but we’ll save it for the actual review. For now, what can be said with confidence is that the Camry is back on top of its game in terms of comfort and now it’s got the performance figures to match.