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New York show: Facelifted Toyota Camry locked in

Stylish future: The facelifted Toyota Camry is expected to carry a more enticing design than the current model that went on sale in 2011.

Toyota’s final Australian-made Camry to make world debut in New York next month


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28 Mar 2014

THE final iteration of the Toyota Camry to be produced in Australia will make its world debut at the New York motor show next month.

Furthermore, Toyota says the mid-life makeover for its mid-sized staple both here and abroad – it is built in numerous countries around the globe – will “challenge conventional expectations of a mid-cycle model change”.

These are the words of Toyota US spokesman Curt McAllister, who suggested to the Bloomberg news service that the update would mark a significant shift from the current model. Internally, the car is known as Big Minor Change Camry.

Toyota Australia media and external affairs manager Beck Angel told GoAuto today that we can expect to see the facelifted family favourite on sale here some time next year, although she could not be more specific about timing.

The Altona plant in Melbourne’s west will be re-fitted to produce the updated version for a few years until it closes it doors in 2017. The next-generation Camry will be sourced from one of the numerous other plants around the world that make the car.

The updated car’s design remains firmly under wraps, but the company has frequently express a desire to ‘sex up’ its vehicle design under the leadership of president Akio Toyoda – even on cars such as the humble Camry.

Senior designer at Toyota’s Calty studio in California Alex Shen told GoAuto at the Detroit motor show earlier this year that it wasn’t just sportscars that would benefit from the new design philosophy.

“It’s constantly our intention to make big leaps on all product from this point forward. In terms of Camry, its segment isn’t your typical vanilla box any more,” he said.

“It’s possible (the next Camry could be a radical departure)” he said. “It’s constantly our intention to make big leaps on every product, especially from this point forward. Akio (Toyoda) expects it, our customers expect it, so we will make big leaps.” It should be pointed out that the updated car will not get the wholesale changes discussed here, and that these quotes reference the next-generation 2018 car. But a sharper nose and tail design seem a good bet to feature on the car revealed in the Big Apple, at the least.

It is unclear what changes Toyota will make to the powertrain or whether it will maintain its current specification levels of Altise, Atara and Hybrid, but this should become clear closer to its local launch.

The Camry-based V6 Aurion sedan that went on sale in April 2012 is also set for a facelift at some point after the Camry, but it is expected to be a less extensive update than its donor car.

Toyota announced in February this year that it would close its Altona production facility in 2017, following similar announcements from fellow local car-makers Holden and Ford last year.

When announcing the closure, Toyota Australia president Max Yasuda confirmed the updated Camry would be the last vehicle down the production line at the Altona plant before it shuts its doors.

“As a result of the decision the major facelift vehicle, otherwise known as Big Minor Change Camry, will be the last car we produce in the plant,” he said in a statement.

Mr Yasuda said at a press conference on the day of the announcement that Toyota Australia came “very close” to securing production of the next-generation Camry due in 2017 before the decision was made to cease local operations.

The Camry has been the top-selling passenger vehicle in the US for 12 years running, however it is facing strong competition from the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, with the latter outselling the Camry in the first two months of 2014.

In Australia, Camry sales have varied greatly since the current-generation launched in December 2011, with Toyota Australia executive director Tony Cramb telling GoAuto late last year that it expected sales to slow as the company ramped up for the mid-life replacement.

Despite overall Camry sales being down by 8.7 per cent in Australia last year, Toyota sold 24,860 Camrys to maintain its title as the best-selling mid-size car by a substantial margin, with a market share of 42.2 per cent.

The closest competition came from the Mazda6 which recorded sales of 7701 units for the full 12 months of 2013.

So far this year, Camry sales have soared by 43.8 per cent, with 2898 examples of the Aussie-built sedan finding homes in the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year.

This is well above the haul of its Aurion V6 twin which shifted 496 units in January and February combined.

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