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.
Inside, the sense of game-raising ambition continues with a cabin of perceived high quality, especially for a car in this price range. The Design version tested here (£29,995) features leather soft surfaces, an attractive satin chrome trim and an ergonomically satisfying driving environment. There’s nothing too surprising in here, and that’s just fine. Controls are exactly where you’d expect them to be and the leather-bound steering wheel is well sized and fully adjustable, while the padded, electrically operated heated seats offer both comfort and support. This is a pleasant place to spend time.
Two 7.0in screens display easy-to-digest information, with the rev counter in the driver interface replaced by a hybrid dial. Drive without hard acceleration and you’ll keep the needle between nine and 12 o’clock, in ‘Eco’ mode; ask for a little more and the needle turns beyond noon into more thirsty ‘PWR’ territory; lift off or brake and it swings back between eight and nine o’clock into ‘Charging’ mode. All a little diverting, perhaps, but it does help you understand how Toyota's hybrid system operates and you can then drive accordingly.
The infotainment touchscreen on the centre console feels a little meagre, with graphics that don’t quite date back to the last time Camrys were sold in the UK – but they’re not far off. At least the menu controls around the touchscreen are physical buttons, but here the Camry drops its premium pretentions, plus there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Still, there’s everything else you’d expect to have to hand, from sat-nav and Bluetooth phone connectivity to a USB port and even a wireless smartphone charging pad. A basic voice recognition function is also included, as are a raft of safety features, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, road sign assist and blindspot monitors. During our test, regular pings proved annoying until we realised that were warning of approaching speed cameras.
In the back, leg room is ample for adults and truly spacious for children, the seats splitting in a 60/40 configuration. The boot is generous at 524 litres, thanks to clever packaging of the electric motor’s battery. By placing it under the rear seats, it doesn’t compromise luggage space and has the added benefit of lowering the centre of gravity.