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Toyota sticks to proven formula

Range-topper: Toyota's revised Camry lineup is spearheaded by a new Azura variant.

Toyota's Camry line-up has received its first update since the car was launched in August, 1997

4 Oct 2000

TOYOTA has obviously embraced the philosophy "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in updating its Camry.

The newcomer represents an investment of $10 million - a relatively small sum considering Holden spent $70 million on the VX Commodore and Ford sunk $40 million into the AUII Falcon.

Changes to the car are minimal, not altogether surprising given that Toyota was already selling every Camry that rolled off its Altona production line.

The revised Camry lineup has been pared back from 23 to 20 variants with the Vienta models being dropped to minimise overlap with the Avalon.

Key additions to the range are a Touring wagon and the Azura flagship, aimed at buyers seeking a more luxurious version of the Touring sedan.

Pricing rises by around 1.5 per cent, mainly due to pressure brought to bear by the strong Yen.

The entry-level Camry CSi manual starts at $25,240 - compared with $24,779 previously - while the range-topping Camry Azura costs $43,070.

In terms of pricing, there is still a significant overlap between the Camry and its Avalon sibling, but Toyota says the two cars attract different sets of buyers.

"The Camry is a family car with sporting tendencies while Avalon is a family car with luxury tendencies," chief product engineer Mr Max Gillard says.

"The Camry's handling characteristics dovetail with the Avalon.

"The up-spec Camry models are more sporty than the Avalon as we still need to compete against the likes of the Mazda 626 and Nissan Maxima." Mr Gillard says the "sports luxury" Camry models will be targeted primarily at buyers in the 30 to 40 age bracket.

Until now, Camry buyers have come mainly from the over-40 age group.

The Camry has been an undoubted success for Toyota Australia and will soon become the biggest-selling car ever produced at Altona.

The local plant will churn out in excess of 80,000 Camrys over the next 12 months, of which more than half are destined for offshore markets.

Toyota Australia senior executive vice president Mr John Conomos says 37,500 Camrys will be sold locally over the next 12 months.

This represents a slight drop compared with 1999, during which a combined total of 42,522 Camrys and Vientas were sold locally.

But the shortfall will be more than compensated for by a predicted 24,000 Avalon sales during the next 12 months.

Toyota Australia's long-term goals are to increase the Camry's local content - currently just under 70 per cent for the four-cylinder and less than 60 per cent for the V6.

The costliest imported component is the transaxle.

The next-generation Camry will be unveiled at next year's Tokyo motor show but local production is not likely to get underway until late 2002.

A third product line for the Altona plant - to supplement Camry and Avalon - is on Toyota's wish list, but it is yet to be decided what this vehicle should be.

A "cross-over" vehicle is the favoured option but this would be dependent on strong export sales.

CSi Sedan 4-cyl manual $25,240
Sedan 4-cyl auto $26,820 Sedan V6 manual $27,800 Sedan V6 auto $29,380 Wagon 4-cyl manual $26,960 Wagon 4-cyl auto $28,540 Wagon V6 auto $31,100 Conquest Sedan 4-cyl manual $28,520 Sedan 4-cyl auto $30,100 Sedan V6 manual $31,110 Sedan V6 auto $32,690 Wagon 4-cyl manual $30,100 Wagon 4-cyl auto $31,680 Wagon V6 auto $34,270 CSX Sedan 4-cyl auto $31,890 Wagon 4-cyl auto $33,470 Touring Series Sedan V6 manual $34,430 Sedan V6 auto $36,010 Wagon V6 auto $37,590 Azura Sedan V6 auto $43,070 OPTIONS Air-conditioning (factory fit) CSI 4/V6 $1875 Go to Car Launches for the full development story, model by model overview and drive impressions of the new Camry lineup.

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