Toyota Camry Excel

Toyota Camry, front action 2
Toyota Camry, front action
Toyota Camry, front static
Toyota Camry, side action
Toyota Camry, side static
Toyota Camry, rear action
Toyota Camry, rear static
Toyota Camry, dashboard
Toyota Camry Excel, boot

THE name's familiar...and so is the concept - a four-door, regularly shaped saloon with a boot at the back and the engine up front.

After a gap of 14 years the Toyota Camry is back. And despite the conventional body saloon style body design it's electrified, following the Japanese giant's trend in lowering emissions and maximising efficiency.

Certainly it's good timing for a petrol hybrid as diesel car sales plummet.

The new Camry isn't going to take your breath away with its stunning looks, but neither is it likely to make you recoil in horror. This is a pleasantly styled, normal looking family car that leaves other more radically honed SUVs and coupes to trend-set and hog the limelight.

Beneath the bonnet, there's four cylinder 2.5-litre, four cylinder petrol engine coupled to an electric motor which knocks out a respectable 215bhp.

Two things stand out about the Camry when you pause after a couple of hours driving. Firstly, its uncanny refinement and general silence. It glides along with a hushed serenity that's almost unknown in a car costing below £40,000.

The other aspect that surprises, in a good way, is its economy. Few large saloons could come anywhere near the 45mpg we got during the test.

Unsurprisingly, the Camry packs in much of the technology used in the smaller and more radically styled Prius which has been with us for almost ever.

Inside, cabin design is simplistic with the switchgear where you'd want it and all the fitments are solid and well made. Unfortunately, there's a fair amount of fake wood trim - inherited from the US, where the Camry is a big hit.

No problem about cabin space. Front and rear passengers are well looked after in terms of leg and headroom. Seats are large but fairly flat, offering limited support.

Unlike much of the opposition, the big Toyota is a four door with a conventional rear boot, so not as versatile as a fastback or hatch. The boot at 524 litres is bigger than most rivals however.

While the Camry is no sports saloon it's brisk enough with a 62mph sprint being achieved in under nine seconds. Only one gearbox option is offered and that's the CVT unit. Continuously variable transmission tends to be even more big brother-ish than a normal automatic gearbox.

Fortunately, however, it comes with steering wheel paddles that allow you drop the revs with a flick of the fingers. Sport mode is available for a bit of extra fizz.

Suspension is slightly on the soft side, but well damped so bad surfaces are coped with well. A bit of cornering roll, but drive reasonably sedately and you will be rewarded by a comfortable ride.

The Excel version, driven here, has ample home comforts as standard, including dual zone air con, sat nav, power adjustable steering wheel, hill start assist, rain repellent door mirror glass and leather seating.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Camry Excel

Price: £31,295

Mechanical:215bhp, 2,487cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 50.4-53.3

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 101g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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