The Toyota Prius is one of the world highest selling hybrid sedans, and there is no hiding in it. Several celebrities across the globe have procured the Prius as a symbol to be friendly to the mother earth, showing how caring they are. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Carey Mulligan and the list just goes on. The Prius is available in India as well, but being a CBU comes at a price tag in excess of Rs 32 lakhs. This makes it twice its actual cost. This is one reason why it doesn’t sell.
For this reason, Toyota has introduced a hybrid version on the Camry, as this sedan is a CKD. This means the cost of the vehicle is much lower and also the fact that it will have a similar price tag like Prius, yet have more features. We drive the Camry hybrid near the company’s plant and find out how good it is.
The hybrid version of the Camry is different from the regular Camry. It has a new front grille and the Toyota logo with a hint of blue that indicates this is the Hybrid Blue Toyota logo and also the hybrid exclusive grille, bumper and fog bezel. This adds on to the styling of the Camry Hybrid and makes it differentiate from the regular Camry.
The headlamps also have LED and the alloys are 17-inch. The mirrors are automatic folding, rear fog lamp and also the Synergy Logo. With these changes, the Camry Hybrid can be easily differentiated from its conventional petrol sibling. Apart from this, the rest of the kit remains untouched.
Interiors are more important to the consumers than the outside. Hence, Toyota will be looking at introducing exclusive interior ornamentation, hybrid system indicator, seat AC, three-zone climate control, and rear seat recliners as the new features on the hybrid version. The quality of the materials used and the overall fit and finish of the plastic is top notch.
The feel and look of the materials is as good as any car in this segment. The instrument cluster now has a new look, as it has an indicator of whether the engine or the electric motor is powering the wheels. A similar high-tech indicator is provided on the screen in the centre console. The interiors are spacious in both the rows and the seats are large and extremely comfortable.
The front row seats have a good thigh support and they also have pours for AC ventilation. The rear ones are relaxing as one can adjust the recline too. The seats are soft and do feel comfy. The rear seat also gets the controls for music system, climate control and the rear blind. There is a manual blind for the rear seat windows.
Engine and Transmission:
The engine on the Toyota Camry is 2.5-litre mill that produces 140bhp of power, instead of the 168bhp on the conventional petrol. The reduction in power is to enhance the fuel efficiency of this mill. Start the car and there is absolutely no sound, pin drop silence. Most of the times, it’s the electric motor that starts up first making the vehicle extremely quiet. Together, the motor and the engine contribute a maximum power in excess of 200bhp.
Like the Toyota Prius this also runs on series-parallel technology for hybrid cars. This means that the power is generated to the front wheels either through the electric motor or the engine, or sometimes both. The transaction between the engine switching on and off is extremely smooth and there are no jerks. This makes the drive smooth even when the switches happen.
The Camry comes with a CVT box, which means that there is some amount of lag in power transfer when you put your foot down. It doesn’t get tiptronic, as several CVTs have that option with some fixed ratio for each gear. It has Park, Reverse, Neutral, Driving and B- which is the low gear ratio driving. As per the ARAI test cycle, the Camry hybrid returns a whooping 19km/l.
The Toyota Camry hybrid has the same underpinnings like that of the Camry and the set-up is soft. This means that the ride is smooth and pliant even on bad roads.
The dampers do a good job of adsorbing most of the shocks. The handling of the Camry hybrid isn’t as good as European competition.
It has some amount of body roll and the steering is absolutely light. This makes driving in city extremely convenient and even for parking. There is the reverse parking camera in the centre console when you shift to reverse. When fully loaded, the under belly scraps on large speed breaker and bumps.
The Toyota Camry hybrid is definitely a good buy, considering the features it comes loaded with. Now, not many people in India will want to flash a hybrid vehicle, hence Toyota has smartly embellished the vehicle with several more luxurious features.
This means that the Camry hybrid can be a replacement for a diesel sedan with probably more features and definitely more refined cabin. We expect the Camry hybrid to cost about Rs 4-5 lakhs in excess of the existing Camry.
Probably the Japanese car maker could also introduce a hybrid version with lesser features at about Rs 2-3 lakhs extra as well.