Broadford Raceway, about an hour out of Melbourne, is never going to host a Formula One Grand Prix. But it proved to be the perfect location to show off the Hybrid Camry’s newest features. With a redesigned Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, including a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, Toyota were keen to show off the latest model’s extra power.
With output boosted from 140kW to 151kW, the Hybrid Camry never actually suffers from power shortage thanks to its Hybrid condition. Shifting from 0 to 100kph in eight seconds, it may not compete with a V8 or luxury car, but has plenty of power off the mark for a family vehicle, let alone a hybrid.
To show us the extra power in a real world condition, we took the Hybrid Camry for a short drive to Strath Creek. With a section that involved steep, hairpin turns, driving uphill was effortless for the car, pulling us up the incline without any indication it was using a battery to help get us there.
Despite the extra power, Toyota has managed to make the new Hybrid Camry even more economical to run, averaging 5.2L/100km for combined highway and city driving. Of course, that means next to nothing when you’re burning around a track at 160kph…
As nice as the additional power is though, it was the handling that was most impressive. At high speeds, the fact that the suspension has been calibrated for Australian roads is obvious, adding responsiveness and agility to the car’s handling. In built safety features mean that the car automatically locks up the acceleration of the car when you lose control, helping you regain it in situations when that’s possible. The electronic power steering also adjusts dynamically, depending on the speed you’re travelling.
The 2012 Hybrid Camry has some passenger friendly features as well, including extra leg room in the cabin, a special windscreen that blocks outside noise so you can enjoy a conversation easily, even at high speeds, and reversing cameras as standard.
A couple of new features are also awesome enough to be worth mentioning: A high beam sensor on the back of the rear view mirror that detects when another car is approaching (or travelling the same direction in front of you) and automatically dims the high beams. There’s also a radar sensor in the side mirrors to detect when cars are in your blind spot. Both seem rather minor improvements, but are likely to become commonplace within a few years as another way to avoid accidents.
There are two new models in the Hybrid Camry range. The Camry H, which drops $2,000 from last year’s starting price to $34,990. The Camry HL is a premium model that adds a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system with a seven-inch touch-screen, satellite navigation with SUNA’s traffic updates, digital radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, an electric rear sunshade and memory settings for the driver’s seat and starts at $41,490.
Price: From $34,990