Has the UK missed the Toyota Camry? Probably not. In fact, you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed it’s been missing since it went off sale 14 years ago.
The model may be a high seller for Toyota around the world – 19 million since its launch in 1982, apparently, and 400,000 in the US alone last year – but it has never really caught on in the UK, especially given the lack of a diesel option. For most car-loving Brits, as forgettable cars go, it’s likely to be on the list (or perhaps not if it really is that hard to remember).
But that should finally be about to change with the launch of this, the all-new Toyota Camry, which bristles with safety technology and offers a compelling mobility option for those who put a priority on their prickling environmental conscience.
As sales of diesels continue to decline, Toyota is right on cue with a large saloon powered by a petrol 2.5-litre engine pepped by a fossil fuel-saving and ULEZ-friendly electric motor (there’s no charge for this car in low-emission zones). As Britain continues to play catch-up on electric vehicle charging infrastructure demands, the Camry sweeps away range anxiety for those who want to ‘go green’ thanks to its self-charging capability, because the battery automatically tops up as you drive. Toyota claims that 50% of average commutes can be completed emissions-free. Such are the key selling points in our changing world today.
Thus, efficiency has to be the main calling card of this eighth-generation model, supported by a WLTP-confirmed economy figure above the 50mpg mark (around 44mpg during our real-world test). But beside its environmental credentials, Toyota is also keen to play up the Camry’s performance capabilities. The presence of a Sport mode beside Normal and Eco indicates as much. Flick the stubby console-mounted lever to the right and you’ll engage Toyota’s new Sequential Shiftmatic system, which allows you to mimic manual-style six-speed sequential changes.
Where does the Camry fit in the UK motoring landscape?
Toyota is not short of ambition or expectation, then, showing a desire to offer a comfortable, usable family saloon with the versatility to please those who want to enjoy dynamic driving. That sounds awfully like premium BMW, Mercedes and Audi territory.
At first glance, the Camry is striking. Whether that full-width trapezoidal front grille adds character or offers a face only its designer could love, we’ll leave for you to decide. But the substantial snout that sweeps low and the clean and purposeful lines to the rear do give the Camry a certain presence. Following hot on the heels of the attractive Corolla, this imposing saloon – 4885mm in length, 1535mm wide – at least offers a welcome statement of intent from Toyota when it comes to eye-catching design. Whatever your judgement, you won’t forget this Camry in a hurry.