The Toyota Camry gets a makeover for a slightly sportier look
A fresher face PLENTY TO ADMIRE: The updated version of the popular Toyota Camry wears an uncharacteristically bold front air dam below a sleeker grille. There are new headlamp clusters too, incorporating daytime driving lights.

THREE years after it was first introduced, the seventh-generation Toyota Camry gets an extensive makeover to re-emphasise its comfort and refinement while attempting to appeal to a younger set of buyers with slightly sportier styling.

As a result, the latest version of the popular but rather conventional-looking mid-sized sedan wears an uncharacteristically bold front air dam below a sleeker grille. There are new headlamp clusters too, incorporating daytime driving lights.

The platform with its same generous 2,775 mm wheelbase remains unchanged but the overall length increases by 25 mm to 4,850 mm because of the extended front overhang.

Inside, the Camry cabin is as roomy as before, with excellent rear legroom and an almost flat floor. So much so that this executive saloon can very well double as an entry-level limo.

Toyota obviously recognises this, with an extra pair of controls for the electric front passenger seat within easy reach of the occupant directly behind.

For this latest version of the Camry, the interior is updated with darker but still shiny wood trim and the latest Toyota technology.

The instrument cluster is new and features a 4.2-inch TFT multi-function display in between the speedo and tachometer.

But the party trick that should get any buyer's attention is the capacitive seven-inch centre touchscreen. Unlike other touchscreens, the Toyota InTouch screen does not require pressure to operate, only contact with a conductive object like a finger.

It also works like an iPad, where the fingers can pinch, drag or "scratch" the onscreen image.

Then there is the novel Air Gesture capability. By waving a hand across a sensor, the radio channels can be changed (left/right), the volume adjusted (up/down), or an incoming call answered.

The former two may be extraneous since there are already more convenient audio controls on the multi-function steering wheel. But it is certainly useful for the navigation function where the map image can be effortlessly panned.

Also new are the reverse camera dynamic guidelines - a first for a Toyota.

The equipment level is generally good, with ventilated front seats (memory for the driver) and a powered rear windscreen sunshade, and the drive smooth.

There are three versions of the Camry - 2.0, 2.5 and Hybrid.

The Camry 2.5 with its six-speed automatic transmission is carried over unchanged. For a large four-cylinder unit, this is as quiet and silken as it gets.

With 231 Nm, the low-end torque of this naturally aspirated petrol engine is more than adequate, and manual gear changes are possible using the gear lever.

But perhaps what fans of the Camry will enjoy most are its spaciousness and build quality. The interior of this Thailand-assembled car is a bit bright but it is very well-made and comfortable, with confident handling to boot. It may not be a mini-Lexus but it does bear that vaunted Toyota hallmark of refinement.

Even with its sportier slant, the Toyota Camry 2.5 is still the epitome of the Japanese executive sedan.

CAR INFORMATION

Toyota Camry 2.5 (A)

Price

:$165,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinders in-line DOHC Dual VVT-i

Engine Cap

:

2,494 cc

Horsepower

:

178 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

231 Nm / 4,100 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

9.7 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

210 km/h