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New Camry: Four takes the floor

Home grown: Toyota claims this is the highest local content Camry since it began building the car here in 1987.

Four-cylinder sales are the target as Toyota tries to keep Camry and Avalon separated

4 Sep 2002

TOYOTA has revealed its full new 380N Camry range for the first time, and firmly declared where its sales and marketing emphasis will lie by dropping the prices of virtually the entire four-cylinder range.

It has also expanded the four-cylinder line-up by adding a sports variant, as well as claiming an improvement in specification levels and introducing a new all-alloy 2.4-litre engine that is being built at the Altona plant in Melbourne.

The story is not quite so headline grabbing for the 3.0-litre V6, where prices have gone up by between $215 and a hefty $3660, although Toyota is claiming increased value through specification adjustments.

With the disappearance of the wagon, the Camry range now drops from 16 variants - including engine and transmission choices - to 11 with name changes for much of the range as well.

Altise replaces CSi as the base model in both four-cylinder and V6 guise, Ateva covers off the old Conquest four-cylinder and V6 as well as the old CSX premium four-cylinder, Sportivo is the new sports model name to replace Touring while Azura continues as the premium V6 model.

Altise and Sportivo are offered with both five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions, while the rest only get automatic transmission choices. Sportivo and Azura also come with a local sports suspension tune and slightly uprated version of the V6 engines.

While pricing and key model-by-model standard features are detailed in our accompanying charts, some highlights are worth noting:
  • Specification values have risen by better than 10 per cent on some models
  • Altise and Ateva four-cylinder go on sale with price reductions between $800 and $1285
  • All Camrys now have dual airbags and front seatbelt pretensioners
  • All Camrys are fitted with a CD player, power windows all-round and remote central locking
  • Ateva V6, Sportivo V6 and Azura are equipped with front seat side airbags.

Full pricing, options pricing and feature levels are detailed at the end of this story.

Toyota's decision to emphasise the four-cylinder end of the Camry range and increase its attack on the medium car market - which it already dominates with a 49 per cent share - is eminently understandable.

It is an attempt to maximise sales as much as possible for Camry and the Avalon V6, which the former is now very close to in size inside and out.

It also reflects the intense competition about to erupt in the large car class with the Holden VY Commodore and Ford BA Falcon launching within the next few weeks.

The pricing story should also deliver more headlines than the 380N's looks, which have been on public display internationally for 12 months.

A widening of the sporting line reflects Toyota's attempts to reduce the average buying age for Camry and increase its popularity among private buyers and fleet user-choosers. Toyota Australia has done plenty of engineering work under the skin and spent $350 million getting the new car ready to roll and the Altona plant ready to build it.

Significantly, it has adapted the platform from the Avalon - which came from the previous 660T Camry - rather than take the internationalplatform.

Called the Toyota Modular Platform, it allows both Camry and Avalon to be built more simply on the same production line. It is also four-wheel drive compatible which is good news if Toyota - as expected - gives the thumbs-up to build a third model line locally, which will most likely be the Kluger/Highlander light-duty off-roader.

That's not the end of the local work though. Amongst much else, Australian engineers refined the suspension and steering, introduced local brakes, headlights, electronics and seats, and developed a bodykit locally for the Sportivo model, as well as accessory body parts and an even sportier suspension.

Most of these features have already been detailed by GoAuto as Toyota conducted a series of media briefings and even a prototype drive day prior to launch.

The localisation - or de-Yenning - of Camry is vitally important in keeping costs down and adding value. Toyota claims this is the highest local content Camry since it began building the car here in 1987, being rated at 77 per cent by the Federal Government methodology.

Obviously the new four-cylinder engine is a key component in that content level, which helps explain why it can drop in price while the Japan-sourced V6 engine helps push the price of those models further up.

Equipped with Toyota's intelligent variable valve timing system (VVTi), the 2362cc 2AZ-FE engine, already sold here in Tarago, features double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and twin balancer shafts. Outputs are 112kW at 5600rpm and 218Nm at 4000rpm, compared to the old iron block 2.2's 94kW at 5200rpm and 187Nm at 4400rpm.

Running on normal unleaded fuel, Toyota claims a spritely 9.3 seconds 0-100km/h acceleration time and 9.0L/100km city cycle fuel economy average when mated with the manual transmission.

The V6 continues to produce 141kW at 5200rpm and 279Nm at 4400rpm in Altise and Ateva form, but with a variable back-pressure muffler the Sportivo and Azura add 4kW and 5Nm.

Toyota is keeping quiet on detailed sales forecasts as it attempts to juggle domestic and international sales demands, but it shooting for about 35,000-40,000 domestic sales in the next 12 months, and about 50,000 exports.

It is forecasting the four-cylinder will take up 65 per cent of local sales, up about 10 per cent on the 660T.

Toyota can sell every Camry it builds because it has a strong and growing export business to Asia and the Middle East. More than half of all Camrys built will be exported.

In the long term, Toyota hopes the challenge of meeting demand will be its biggest problem with Camry.

TOYOTA CAMRY PRICING COMPARISON:

380N Camry pricingOld Camry pricing
4-cylinder:
Altise manual $26,990$26,280 CSi manual
Altise auto $28,490$29,775 CSi automatic
Ateva auto $31,490 $32,290/$34,130 Conquest auto/CSX auto
Sportivo manual $30,990n/a Touring manual
Sportivo auto $31,990 n/a Touring auto
V6:
Altise manual $30,990 $30,775 CSi manual
Altise auto $32,490$32,405 CSi auto
Ateva auto $35,990$34,950 Conquest auto
Sportivo manual $38,990 $35,330 Touring manual
Sportivo auto $38,990 $36,950 Touring auto
Azura auto $48,990 $45,835 Azura auto

OPTIONS:

Side airbag/moonroof (Ateva 4-cyl, Sportivo 4-cyl) $2150
Satellite navigation $3800
Cruise control/sat-nav (Altise) $4300
Moonroof/sat-nav (Sportivo) $5450
Metallic paint (Altise) $215
Cruise control (Altise) $500
Cruise control/ABS (Altise) $1250For Camry driving impressions, please check out our accompanying story in the New Models section, "New Camry: Driven to new heights"

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