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Car reviews - Toyota - Camry - sedan range

Launch Story

Toyota logo28 Jul 2006

By MARTON PETTENDY

TOYOTA’s new medium-sized Camry has been launched into an Australian market segment that "within a blink of an eye" has become a significant battleground for private buyers.

According to Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner, private buyers now buy more medium than large cars and have accelerated the slowing of the large-car segment, which Toyota will re-enter with the new Aurion V6 later this year.

"The turnaround occurred just last year," he said. "In 2004 private sales in the large segment totalled just under 44,000, while private sales in the far smaller medium segment totalled 35,500. Then last year they switched.

"Large-car private sales dropped to 34,000 and medium private sales soared to above 42,000."

Mr Buttner said the trend had accelerated this year, with medium private sales running 28.7 per cent ahead of large private sales.

"While the large-car market is still exceptionally important, it’s volume among fleets and governments that keeps the locals viable," he said. "It’s worth noting that in 2005 governments bought 39.9 per cent more medium cars, albeit off a low base and still in relatively low volumes."

However, Mr Buttner believed a range of factors – not simply rising fuel prices – were driving buyers to downsize vehicles.

"With the advent of novated leases and salary sacrifices, fewer company cars are following the traditional linear path to prestige motoring," he said. "In fact, the two vehicles that historically have been the pinnacle symbol of success in the company garage (the Holden Statesman and Ford Fairlane) are in decline.

"In the past six years, sales of two locally manufactured long-wheelbase models have diminished – 49 per cent for one (Fairlane) and 34 per cent for the other."

Mr Buttner said the beneficiaries had been the medium-sized cars in the prestige and subprestige markets. "Most of them imports," he said. "In fact, in the same few years, demand for prestige cars has increased better than 37 per cent.

And demand for Camry? Well it’s up 25 per cent.

"Toyota knows where the competition is coming from and it’s not from traditional sources."

Mr Buttner also believes Toyota’s two-tier strategy of offering the Camry four-cylinder only and the new Aurion six-cylinder had gained currency as fuel prices bite.

The Aurion, like Holden’s VE Commodore, will produce a stimulus to the market but not enough to lift the large-six segment to its previous high levels of penetration, he said.

Mr Buttner believes the new Camry would not only attract a younger type of buyer but aspirational buyers too.

"Both are an answer to the high-grade models of their competitors," he said. "Over the past five years the volume of entry-level cars has remained constant.

"The sports and luxury segments of the medium-car market have grown markedly. We’ve see our competitors exploiting the rising demand at this end and now it’s our turn."

He expected the Sportivo and new Grande luxury model to eventually account for more than 25 per cent of sales "and arguably that could be incremental".

Based on current sales, Toyota expects the entry Altise to make up 64 per cent of volumes, the Altera 10 per cent, Sportivo 17 per cent and the new Grande just nine per cent.

And the Camry’s old cardigan image? "We’ve cast off the old Camry image," Mr Buttner said. "From today, I think we can include style and sophistication amongst our key selling features."

Standard Altise features:

Dual front airbags
Air-conditioning with pollen filter
Reach and height-adjustable steering wheel
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
Map lights
Impact-sensing fuel cutoff
Cruise control
Power windows and mirrors
Remote central locking
Alarm
Power lumbar driver’s seat adjustment
Automatic headlights on
MP3/WMA audio capability
16-inch steel wheels
Four-speaker CD/tuner stereo
Lockable 60/40-split folding rear seat with remote boot release

Ateva adds:

Shift position indicator
Front-seat side and curtain airbags
Dual-zone automatic climate-control with external temperature gauge
16-inch alloy wheels
Front foglights
Six-speaker audio system with six-CD in-dash stacker
Eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat
Six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat (including lumbar)
Rear-seat centre armrest with two cup-holders>br> Leather-bound multi-function steering wheel
Trip computer
Leather-bound gearshift lever and parking brake lever
Chromed grille surround and inside door handles
Body-coloured mudflaps

Sportivo adds:

Sports suspension
Sports headlights
Additional body bracing
Sports mesh grille
Front foglights
17-inch alloys with Michelin Vivacy tyres
Rear ski-hatch (in lieu of 60/40-split folding rear seat
Aero bodykit (front bumper/spoiler, side skirts, rear skirt, rear spoiler
Chrome exhaust diffuser
Sports front seats
Power eight-way driver's seat adjustment
Power and six-way front passenger seat adjustment (inluding lumbar)
Black sports seat trim
Trip computer
Rear-seat centre head restraint
Analogue sports instrument cluster
Six-speaker audio with six-CD in-dash stacker
External temperature gauge
Shift position indicator (with auto transmission)
Alloy sports pedals
Sportivo metallic front-door scuff plates
Metallic paint

Grande adds:

Leather seat and door trim
Vehicle stability control (VSC)
Traction control
Satellite-navigation with Bluetooth
Steering wheel-mounted Bluetooth controls
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
Sunroof
Ppersonal rear lamps
Power rear sunshade
Chrome exterior door handles and exhaust diffuser
Woodgrain finish on door switch plates and upper console

The detail:

Engine type: 2.362-litre 16-valve DOHC inlet VVT-i four-cylinder
Location: Front
Drive: Front-wheel
Power: 117kW at 5700rpm
Torque: 218Nm at 4000rpm
Manual transmission: five-speed
Automatic transmission: five-speed
Brakes: Power-assisted, ventilated 296x28mm front discs, solid 286x10mm rear discs four-channel ABS, EBD, brake assist standard
Suspension: MacPherson strut with wide-based L-shaped lower arm (front) dual-link struts (rear) coil springs, anti-roll bars Sports suspension with unique spring, damper and stabiliser bar settings
Spare wheel: full-size
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 11.8 metres
Warranty: Three years/100,000km bumper-to-bumper

The measurements:

Length: 4815mm (+10mm)
Width: 1820mm (+25mm)
Height: 1480mm (-15mm)
Wheelbase: 2775mm (+55mm)
Front track: 1575mm (+ 30mm)
Rear track: 1565mm (+45mm)
Ground clearance: 129mm
Boot capacity: 535 litres (Sportivo 504L)
Towing capacity: 1200kg (braked)
Tare Mass: 1415kg-1480kg
Fuel tank capacity: 70 litres

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