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Toyota’s 2015 Camry spied

Snap: The facelifted Toyota Camry pictured here is an engineering mule, with production likely to commence next year.

Heavily revised Toyota Camry mid-sizer caught on the streets of Melbourne

Toyota logo1 Dec 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

TOYOTA’S heavily upgraded Camry – the final model to be built in Australia before the Japanese brand quits manufacturing here by the end of 2017 – has been caught by GoAuto on the streets of Melbourne well before its showroom arrival next year.

GoAuto understands that the facelifted model seen here – first revealed at the New York auto show in April – is an engineering development ‘mule’, with Toyota Australia insiders confirming that production of the ‘Big Little Change’ Camry, as it is known internally, is yet to commence.

The Camry sighting comes a week after fellow local manufacturer Ford released its final Falcon and Territory ahead of the closure of its manufacturing operations in October 2016.

Toyota and Holden will both follow suit a year later, marking the end of Australian motor vehicle production.

The upgraded Camry, and related V6-powered Aurion, will see Toyota Australia out until late 2017 or early 2018, when the fully redesigned – and fully imported – new-generation Camry steps in as its replacement, fresh off the boat from Thailand or another Camry-producing country.

The first time a local example of the final Aussie Camry has been spotted, the development car shows off the wider grille and radical Lexus-style lower air intake of the US-spec versions, along with slimline vertical daytime running lights.

A lack of chrome highlights on the lower grille and the smaller wheels suggest this could be a lower-spec variant.

The image highlights how different the revised version is compared with the model it will replace next year, with the sharp angles gone in favour of a smoother, more rounded look at the front, new pronounced bonnet lines, a restyled rear three-quarter window and lower-set, sloping boot.

American automotive design regulations dictate that the US Camry includes prominent orange indicator lights housed in the headlight bezel, but the image reveals that Australian versions will have clear covers.

When it revealed the new Camry in New York, Toyota said it contained almost 2000 new parts compared with the outgoing model, including almost every exterior body part.

The interior and dash also received a major upgrade, with the addition of more soft-touch materials and a 4.2-inch LCD screen in the instrument cluster and another one – up to seven inches, depending on the variant – at the top of the centre stack.

Under the skin, Toyota said it has improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, while Australian engineers will be working on ensuring the suspension settings and wheel-and-tyre packages will be in line with market expectations.

Local specifications are still to be released, but we understand that the Australian line-up will be similar to the current series, with new variants in the US, such as a sportier hybrid version, not likely to be sold here.

Two powertrains are currently available in Australia: 135kW/235Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol on Atara variants (133kW/231Nm in base Altise guise), and 151kW/350Nm petrol-electric hybrid that delivers official fuel consumption of 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.

Prices range from $30,490 plus on-road costs for the base Altise petrol, topping out at $41,490 for the flagship Hybrid HL. Toyota is currently offering a limited-edition sporty-looking RZ model from $31,990.

The Australian-built Camry is still the most popular mid-size car in the country by some margin, with sales of 17,689 units to the end of October, 6.7 per cent down on the same period last year.

Trailing the Camry in the mid-size segment by more than 12,000 units is the second-placed Mazda6 on 5035, with luxury brand Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class nipping at its heels with 4381 sales to the end of October.

The Camry is also the second-best-selling Australian built car so far this year, behind Holden’s resurgent VF Commodore that is sitting on 25,994 sales.

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