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Detroit show: New Toyota Camry to come from Japan

Made in Japan: Toyota’s eighth-generation Camry sits on Toyota’s new global architecture, with styling influenced by Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

New beginning for Toyota Camry as sleek replacement to be imported from Japan

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Toyota logo10 Jan 2017

TOYOTA Australia has confirmed it will import its all-new Camry from Japan when it closes the doors of its Australian manufacturing plant in the fourth quarter of this year.

Speaking at the Detroit motor show where the eighth-generation Camry was revealed overnight by Toyota president Akio Toyoda, Toyota Australia sales and marketing executive director Tony Cramb announced that the new model would arrive in Australian dealerships before the end of the year, soon after the closure of its Altona plant in Victoria.

The move gives Toyota the jump on rival Holden, which will have to wait until the first half of 2018 for its imported Commodore to replace the locally built VF that also goes out of production in the fourth quarter.

For Toyota, it is a case of back to the future on its Australian-spec Camry, production of which returns to Japan from where it was originally imported before local production of the second-generation mid-sized sedan began in 1987, replacing the Corona.

The announcement puts paid to speculation that the new Camry might be imported from Thailand or the United States, and will do nothing to hurt the car’s preconceptions of “made in Japan” quality.

As well, the Camry is set to regain a V6 engine option – a feature that once was available in Camry but has been the exclusive province of the Camry-based, Australian-built Aurion in latter generations.

The move signals the end for the Aurion, with Toyota putting its faith in Camry to carry on as Australia’s top-selling medium car – a mantle it has carried in Australia for 23 successive years.

The next-generation Camry is new from the ground up, not only gaining thoroughly new body, chassis and powertrains, but also a stylish fresh look designed to banish the car’s image as solid but boring.

As Toyota puts it, the new Camry has be re-imagined with “a sportiness that’s never before been perceived on this model”.

Mr Toyoda, who made the Camry design one of his pet projects, even joked that he thought he might be at the wrong press conference at the Detroit show after the new range was revealed.

Designed in Japan by a team headed by an American, the Camry’s roof line has been chopped for a sleeker look and improved aerodynamics, while the car is wider for a more planted look on the road.

Becoming the first sedan to sit on Toyota’s new front-wheel-drive global architecture – the latest Prius was the first hatch – the new Camry is 44mm longer (4859mm) than the current version, with most of that gain coming from an extended wheelbase of 2824mm, up 55mm.

The new platform has allowed designers to reposition the driver’s seat further towards the middle of the car and drop it lower to the floor for a more natural and sporty driving position.

As well, they were able to lower the dash and instrument binnacle for improved forward vision, while the steering wheel column has greater adjustment.

Toyota says the key benefits of the new architecture’s lower centre of gravity, higher torsional rigidity and fully independent rear suspension are improved dynamics, handling and ride comfort.

For Australia, three powertrains will be offered – a 2.5-litre petrol four cylinder, a new-generation 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid and a 3.5-litre direct-injection V6.

While the hybrid powers the front wheels via a new version of the continuously variable transmission (CVT), this time with three driving modes and paddle shifters, the two petrol engines get Toyota’s new eight-speed automatic transmission that replaces the old six-speeder.

Depending on variant, the Camry will ride on 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels with the latter expected to be fitted to a sports model promised by Mr Cramb, who described the Camry as a premium, high-quality sedan focused on performance and technology.

Toyota says the interior has been given a lift with “high sensory quality with soft-touch surfaces and stitching”.

“New seats are more supportive and include greater slide range for the front and split-fold for the rear,” it says.

By placing the hybrid variant’s battery under the rear seat instead of under the boot, luggage space has been improved by 30 litres in that version. The petrol car’s boot makes a more modest gain of 10 litres.

Other improvements include an eight-inch audio display screen, seven-inch colour multi-information display, 10-inch colour head-up display and an electric park brake instead of the oft-criticised foot-operated pedal.

A suite of new safety features will be standard, including a pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, all-speed active cruise control and lane departure alert.

At last count, Camry sales in Australia had passed 900,000 cars, including 690,000 four-cylinder petrol units, 42,000 hybrids and 169,000 V6s.

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