Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track and dynamically sound

Location: State Motorcycle facility at Broadford, Victoria.

I’ve got Australian Rally Guru Neal Bates riding shotgun with me (Rick Bates is here too), and my instructions for this braking test are to flatten the throttle in the Hybrid Toyota Camry from a standing start, hold it to the firewall until the car reaches 110km/h, then hit the brakes with as much force as I can possibly muster, bringing the car to a complete stop.

It’s all over in just 11.24 seconds, and that’s a full 1.55 seconds quicker than the next best performing car, the Honda Accord VTi-L, which took all of 12.79 seconds to complete the 0-100km/h-0 run.

It’s an eye opener and certainly not the result I was expecting, given the Hybrid Camry is the heaviest out of the four car test group, which also includes the Mazda6 Diesel Sports and Subaru Liberty 2.5i, all outstanding vehicles in the medium/large car segment.

This is all part of Toyota’s ongoing research and development program, which it runs across each and every model in its range, to help ensure that their vehicles measure up to what is some very stiff competition in the Australian market.

It’s also the first time that a group of motoring journalists have been permitted to get behind the wheel in what are seen as critical on-track proficiency tests, to ensure Hybrid Camry offers the best possible performance and safety for buyers.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

Normally, these procedures are undertaken by experienced test drivers and in-house engineers, who’s job it is to drive the cars consistently over countless laps, which may or may not, reveal any strengths or weaknesses in a specific system or operation in the car.

The test services for this occasion were also outsourced to an independent automotive testing company called Gambold Testing Services, which is run by the highly experienced Graeme Gambold, who also does work for Mercedes-Benz and several other automotive clients besides Toyota and his role with the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds in New Zealand.

The timing is about right too given Hybrid Camry was launched back in February this year, and you would expect any tweaks, to any number of on board systems, to be installed towards the end of year one of a model’s five year average life-cycle.

Take the Camry’s electric power steering unit for example, it has a staggering 20,000 possible variations, so you can appreciate the job of professional test driver and the product development team, who might spend months calibrating the perfect steering set up, for any number of driver situations.

It’s also no secret that Hybrid Camry has come under fire from a number of sources that have questioned the car’s overall performance against similarly priced competitors, and the sizeable investment in the car itself, by the Australian government.

Hybrid Camry is also the only locally built car from this group of four test vehicles. The Mazda 6 and Subaru Liberty are both built in Japan, while the Honda Accord is built in Thailand.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

So what better way for Toyota to set the record straight, than by including the motoring press in a number of critical performance/safety tests against the crème of the mid-size segment in Australia.

Incidentally, sales of Camry Hybrid so far this year from the car’s February launch date are around 3200 units, but Toyota PR boss Mike Breen, told us that they still expect to reach their 10,000 car target for the year. Apparently, fleet sales make up 75 percent of sales and private buyers have accounted for the remaining 25 percent.

Truth be told, up against the super smooth Honda Accord, the All-Wheel Drive Subaru Liberty, and the 400Nm torque rich Mazda 6 Diesel Sports, I don’t think any of the journalists would have rated Toyota’s Hybrid entrant ahead of any of these rival cars, at least at the start of the day’s proceedings.

The program for the day was to drive each car, back-to-back, through a series of four test procedures on track and through three rotations. This pattern would produce the most consistent results due to minimal driver-induced variance.

First up, the slalom run, which required the driver to hit the first of six closely spaced cones at 80km/h and then thread them together with no brake, and no throttle. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. 80km/h might not seem that quick on track, but turning into cone one at that speed, seems a tad too quick, given the close placement of these hats.

Predictably, there were plenty of cones down on most of the early runs, and it didn’t really seem to matter what car you were driving, the same degree of difficultly applied.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

You had to work the steering wheel fast if you wanted to make it a clean run, which meant some relatively violent use of the tiller at times.

The point of this test was to measure the time is takes the car to negotiate a successful run (that’s no cones down), lateral G, exit speed and deceleration or Long G.

The surprising winner of this event, let’s call it that, was the Honda Accord VTi-L, which took the least time to complete the slalom run (6.69 seconds), and as expected, had the highest exit speed of 49.6 km/h.  I would never have picked this particular Honda model to do as well as the other cars, given its skew towards luxury and a compliant suspension set up.

On the other hand, the Hybrid Camry took more time than any other car to complete the exercise (7.51 seconds) while its exit speed was also the slowest of group at 40.5km/h, most likely due to it’s regenerative braking system.

Does the electric power steering (EPS) have anything to do with why the Camry was slower through the witch’s hats than the other cars? Not sure. That’s something for the Toyota engineers to decide when they pour though all the data collected from each and every clean slalom run that the cars completed during the course of the day.

It was a different story when we got to the ‘cornering acceleration’ stage along the test course. It’s more a test of the proficiency of each manufacturer’s Traction Control System and how that system is calibrated, than outright cornering speed. It was also an area where the Camry displayed complete and utter composure.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

From a standing start, through an uphill right hand bend, it required full throttle through the entire bend, which was wet through the forced apex, and in all cases, the traction control became active on the wet surface area.

While the speed through the corner on this test was considerably faster than the average driver would ever attempt on public roads, it was comforting to know that all cars completed the run without any real loss of composure.

The Camry pulled the most ‘sustained lateral G’ (0.67) followed by the Liberty (0.63) although the quickest corner exit speed was recorded by the Mazda 6 Sport Diesel, at 94.86 km/h followed by Camry at 94.21 km/h.

That said the highest actual mid-corner speed went to the Liberty at 65.95km/h, with the Accord recording 65.57 and Camry at 64.54km/h.

Composure, is what counts in these extreme-driving situations and speed merely accentuates the behaviour of the car and the various active safety systems at work.

This is where Camry differs from the rest of the pack. While all four cars are equipped with a full suite of electronic nannies including, Anti-Skid Brakes, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control, Camry’s system is managed by VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management) and ‘integrated’ being the key word.

Toyota claims that VDIM is a more intelligent system than many current Electronic Stability Programs (ESP) due to the fact that it not only integrates all active safety systems including the Electric Power Steering, but also can process more information and faster. From behind the wheel, it feels almost predictive rather than adaptive.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

The system also monitors the coefficient of friction or ‘mu’ number between the wheels and surface, which essentially means the system works out how much slip there is at any one time, and applies a more measured correction rather than simply an ‘on or off’ approach to the problem.

To the average driver, and as we experienced on the test track in the Hybrid Camry, the end result is that you are largely unaware that these systems have even been activated even under extreme load.

The acceleration test, which was also integrated into the braking/deceleration test, was always going to favour the Hybrid with its combined power output of 140kW (7kW more than any other car) as well as the advantage of a sizeable dose of torque available from zero rpm, via the electric power.

That said any advantage Camry Hybrid gained in power and torque would surely be lost with the car’s weight of 1645 kilograms against 1597 kilos for the Mazda 6 Diesel Sports, 1565 kg and 1439 kg for the Accord and Liberty respectively.

No such result. Hybrid Camry shot from 0-100km/h in 8.47 seconds, the fastest time by a full 1.44 seconds to the second place scoring Honda Accord.

The final stage of the test rotation involved cornering stability at full throttle as well as lift off on the exit. It’s something you wouldn’t want to try in a car without stability control, but again it was the Hybrid Camry, which easily felt the most composed and poised throughout the manoeuvre. It simply didn’t matter than you were maintaining the same turn angle on the steering wheel; the car simply went around the corner without any fuss whatsoever.

Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track
Toyota Hybrid Camry On Track

It wasn’t quite as comfortable in the Subaru or the Mazda but still, it was an excellent demonstration of how effective stability control programs can be. Lifesaving, is one word that comes to mind.

We wrapped up the day with some circle work on a saturated piece of tarmac and again, but without wanting to sound like a broken record, the Camry offered the most poise and control under full throttle and close to full lock.

While the Honda and Mazda also handled the manoeuvre with control, the surprise was the All-wheel Drive Liberty, whose stability control system did not kick in as quickly as the other systems, which maybe a result of the car’s all-wheel drive set up or simply a different calibration that allows for more driver input in particular situations.

Thankfully, car manufacturers are continually testing their cars in various environments around the globe and today was no more than a glimpse of what is an exhaustive program by an army of engineers and test drivers, who spend their working lives looking for improvements in a car’s overall performance.

In the end, it may only be a few extra kilowatts or a slight reduction in cabin noise or stopping distance, but that could translate into an important marketing edge over competitive vehicles.




  • MrQuick

    1645kg! Jesus thats heavy, thats around the falcodore weight.

    • CJ

      It has been over 10 years since a Falcodore has weighed as little as that.

      • Shak

        The Omega weighs close to that.

      • Paul

        The rego papers on my 5.7 lt VX SS say 1601 kg

    • Iwan Soebadio

      Well, batteries and electric motors tend weigh a bit. Hopefully the next generation Hybrids ( the plug variety) might see the emergence of hub motors. Then you could drive the wheels from the rear like a Falcodore, or All-wheel-drive like a Subie; and you could get rid of the heavy transmission altogether.

    • Simon

      The Aurion weighs less than that and is larger.

      • CJ

        Aurion is the same car with a different front clip and tail lights. Same doors and cabin.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony Crawford

    Dennis,

    The program was run by an independent test services group so not sure what you mean by any bias. Hard to report anything other than the facts in a program like this.

    Thanks for your comment.

    • Dennis

      Ok, but the whole Article was based around the Camry? Or am i misreading this..?

      • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony Crawford

        Well, yes Dennis, Toyota happened to be the car company that were running the tests. You may need to read the article again, as I have been complimentary to most other vehicles, when the facts allowed me to do so.

        I also recall stating that all cars in the group were “outstanding”, which I have no trouble with, as any one of these vehicles would be welcome in my own garage.

        Cheers

  • Shak

    Very nice little bit of news CA. Its good to hear that our tax money did some good for the cardigan brigade.

  • http://baji192.wordpress.org Baji

    I can understand the acceleration test results since the Camry does have the most power and torque from 0RPM, and the handling tests, since the battery packs in the back give it a near 50:50 weight distribution.

    But what i don’t get is why did they not include the petrol Mazda 6, which is a full 100kg lighter, or the Accord Euro? I’m thinking the mazda 6 may have had more of an edge if it were the lighter petrol version especially in the handling tests.

    Btw, can we have the list of full results or is that confidential?

    • Matty B

      I suppose they were comparing the most economical vehicles in both makes?

      Or could of just been what was available from the manufacturers at the time.

    • ST

      You’re forgetting the Mazda 6 diesel was a manual.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1435885244 Yani Hendriawan

      isn’t 50:50 weight distribution bad in a fwd car? more weight at the front keeps the wheels on the road. more weight at the back the front wheels won’t have as much traction.

      on forza 3 it shows the weight distribution and most fwd cars have 62% of the weight up the front

  • http://fiat bill

    I agree with Baji, a petrol Mazda 6 and a Honda Euro would surely make a better dynamics comparison. Why would you not compare against the “Benchmark” cars in the midsize affordable field?

    The Camry might have improved dynamics… but it still looks like it belongs in the bowls club carpark, look at all that hideous chrome muck on the back of the car!! and the resthome lounge interior colours. I bet the 25% of sales that go to private buyers go to over 70′s. Go on Toyota show us the stats!

    • Darryl

       I’m 26 years old and it was my first choice of car. So i bought it. I feel safe, It looks great, I’m saving huge amounts on fuel compared to other vehicles this size. Last time i drove past a bowls club i remember seeing many cheaper made cars parked there, is that maybe because retired people over 70 cant afford a $37,000 car? Sounds like you may be an anti Toyota fan?

  • G

    Why there was no Suzuki Kizashi in there? Maybe Toyota was too afraid to have it there, based on most reviews saying it is the best in class for ride and handling?

    • G

      Funny to see that both my comment and Bill’s comments received all the “-1″ votes, just because we questioned the model selection, and because both of us mentioned the new dynamics benchmarks for the segment.

      If the Camry is considered a “medium” car in Australia why would they compared it to the Accord and not the Accord Euro?

      The 6 diesel was selected because it is the most economical, and the Camry is a Hybrid. So why not do an economy test instead of a dynamics test? The Mazda result should be much better with the petrol variant.

      This was designed to see the Camry look good. How about CA do their own “neutral” test, with cars that actually compete with themselves? (Mazda6, Euro, Liberty, Kizashi, Mondeo, Jetta, i45)

      • Shak

        Just to clarify, this was Toyota’s own testing done by an independent company, so if the Toyota or any other car looks good, its because it is good. CA were merely invited along to view How toyota test their cars.

  • ST

    You appear shocked that this Hybrid Camry is significantly different to the garden variety of Camry? Have you even driven one properly before you begin to form an opinion about a car?

    • Camry lover

      Agreed, it’s an excellent car.

      • JML

        Then why is no one buying it?

        • HNC

          They are buying, all the taxi company’s and fleets are buying them due to the significant fleet purchase prices, retail get screwed but at least it may take the pressure off the other major fleet vehicles and get a bit of resale back. I wouldnt like to trade a camry hybrid in a few years, auctions will be full of them.

    • Save it for the track

      I’ve driven ‘garden variety’ Camry’s before and know that they can be quite ‘dynamic’. I’ve just found over the years that the owners don’t appear to know how to drive them…

  • Fenno

    Actually a great article. One of the most unbiased
    approaches I have seen in a while. Quite the opposite perspective than what Dennis above has perceived.

  • Wolfie fan

    Good article.

    Anthony 0-110 -0 results were interesting but would be more meaningfulto have a full comparison chart showing which vehicle has the most effective brakes
    ie time and distance 110-0.

    Is this info avaialble?

    • RK

      Seconded. One of the great advantages of hybrid and electric cars is their acceleration from 0km/h, so I’d like to see the braking time and distance broken out of that result.

      It’s a good reminder though that the hybrid engine really can give this Camry advantages over a “normal” Camry other than fuel efficiency, by giving it different handling characteristics and better acceleration from standstill.

  • Bob

    Good or bad car who knows, What is nasty is the styling. Bland sums it up in one word.

  • Golfschwein

    Have you been invited to the test between the Corolla Sports, Golf, Focus and 3?

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony Crawford

      Not yet, but Mr Toyoda who I met in the pits at Nurburgring in 2009 (Gazoo Racing and Aston Martin Racing teams share a pit garage at the 24 Hour Race there) is on record as saying that he wants the company to build more character into their cars, which is a very good sign from a keen racing fan, as Akio Toyoda certainly is.

  • Will

    Crystal set on wheels…with massive tax payer funding.
    0 to 100 times are irrelevant in real day use.

    Do yourself a favour, think DIESEL!!

    • Stevo

      Do yourself a favor, think HYBRID!!.

      • Dave

        Lets not forget LPG or even the forth coming E85

    • RK

      0-100 times take on greater significance when you need to accelerate in a hurry to get out of the way of something that’s gonna kill you. And braking distances from 100-0 and from 60-0 on the OEM tyres are one of the most important, and yet rarely reported, stats you can know about your car.

  • MK

    Surprising results. Were they shod with the same tyre brand?

    • Camski

      MK, after you mentioned tyres, I did a quick search and found that interestingly, the Camry Hybrid isn’t fitted with low rolling resistance tyres.

      I can’t help answer your question, but the lack of low rolling resistance tyres is interesting because even Lexus’ Hybrids use them and they’re supposed to be ‘performance’ orientated hybrids as opposed to economy focused.

      Using conventional tyres would have improved the Camry’s handling significantly (as opposed to using low rolling resistance tyres) – however I would have been more impressed if all this was achieved with low rolling resistance tyres :P

      All in all though, excellent write up where by the competition (in my opinion) is all very close, and when it comes to track performance, they’d all perform pretty close to each other.

  • Philthy

    Slight over-reaction there don’t ya think?

    Also, aren’t these all around the same price?

    Nice article. Good to see Toyota has an interest in benchmarking the handling of their products and was nice enough to invite CA along.

    P.S. I’m hoping mr Toyoda is enthusiastic enough to sell the FT-86 in oz.

  • MazMagic

    Well, copying a tagline from a late 1970′s Ford ad: “It not how a car performs when driven around witches hats, but how it performs when your life is at stake that really counts!”.

    Not saying anything against the Camry (I saw my friends on the weekend and it is actually quite a nice car got to admit – not bland as some make try to make out).

    I think real world results however have more weighting. A mistake everyone makes.

  • Simon

    To me it seems from the tests run there really isn’t much between them. For mine a glaring omission would be the 80-120 (or similar figures) acceleration. This is a very significant figure to me as the better it is the safer overtaking is. In this regard I think the 6 diesel would smash the others. That said I have no idea how the hybrid camry would perform.
    The other factor I’m wondering is just how much advantage the Subie’s AWD is in real terms.
    As the article mentioned, they are all decent cars in their own right.

  • ChineseDriver

    I actually quite like the styling of hybrid camry, i think it looks much better than regular camry, somewhat futuristic.

    Can’t wait to see the next gen Camry, when more ‘characteristic’added.

  • Motorhead

    Numbers are one thing but actually driving the Hybrid Camry you are always very aware of the weight because you have 2 engines in front of the front axle & then a couple of hunred kilos of battery in boot so you can really feel the shift in weight as the car moves about.

    I had one on loan for a little over a week & while it wasn’t a terrible car I went back to a diesel Mondeo as it had a full size boot, a nicer interior, better handling, steering, braking & performance with better fuel economy in most conditions.

  • Dave

    My first thought were: ‘how did that Camry get on the race track? They dont belong there’

    • Blitzkrieg

      ha ha thats what i thought too. Camry and track just dont go together.

  • Electron

    80-100 the Camry will trounce the others for sure. I drive alot of different cars and nothing comes close to camry Hybrid’s in gear acceleration and performance whilst maintaining only 7 lts/100km, (better if your not into it), Camry Hybrid is a surprising car. I love a test using the raw numbers rather emotion to find a vehicles true level of competency.Toyota is showing how good they really are with this vehicle and we should be proud it’s built in Aus. We should all wake up to how good this car is as a family motoring proposition, but Toyota , give it some sort of Tow Rating (500-1000Kg limit isn’t asking too much is it with the less powerful camry able to pull 1200kg.)

    • Simon

      Don’t be so sure. The 6′s diesel has 400NM. As I mentioned, I’d like to see them all put head to head.

  • Bland fan

    Why no sportivo 4cyl camry in the test?

  • john

    an excellent report one of a few with no biases ie heritage etc. It would have been useful to see what their fuel consumption was like during performance testing and also what their headlight function at night is like. It is always pleasing when Australian built products can match or better their fully imported rivals. Hopefully the aussie consumer will buy made in oz when it is as good as imported.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GalleriaToyota Ly Danh

    A very interesting article . For those who dispute , take the time and go test drive these cars yourself! That way you have your own verdict!

  • nickdl

    I don’t mind the Hybrid Camry, well worth the extra few thousand over the petrol equivalent. The styling is much better than the normal one as well as the Liberty and Accord and the Luxury model misses the horrible woodgrain interior on the Grande Camry.

    It’s a good offering with a decent amount of space, good value, reasonable power and it should have very good economy around town.

    Having said that I’d buy an XR6 or Mazda6 for the same sort of money.

  • Save it for the track

    So the cars are apparently just as ‘dynamic’ as anything else. Guess the customers just aren’t up to snuff then….

Toyota Camry Specs

Car Details
Make
TOYOTA
Model
CAMRY
Variant
CS-X
Year
1996
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
2.2L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
185Nm @  0rpm
Max. Power
93kW @  0rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
68.9W/kg
Bore & Stroke
87x91mm
Compression Ratio
9.5
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
5 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.944
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
70
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
10L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1350
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1400mm
Length
4725mm
Width
1770mm
Ground Clearance
0mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1100  Unbrake:500
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.6
Front Rim Size
5.5Jx14
Rear Rim Size
5.5Jx14
Wheel Base
2620
Front Track
1550
Rear Track
1500
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - SOLID
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio Cassette with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Power Windows
Security
Central Locking
Optional Features
Safety
Airbag Driver, Anti-lock Braking
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-I-9
Country of Origin
AUSTRALIA