The Camry has been a phenomenal success for Toyota for as long as I can remember and has played a major role in the brand's long held position as the world’s most successful carmaker.
First launched in 1987, Toyota has produced a staggering 1.6 million Camrys in Australia in the ensuing period. It has also been the country’s best-selling mid-size car for the past 17 years.
Camry has also been a massive export success for Australia with more than 850,000 units shipped to overseas markets including the Middle East, New Zealand and various Pacific countries.
Last year alone, almost 96,000 Camrys were produced in Australia, with 70,000 of those exported.
Building Camry in Australia also means job security for no less than 16,000 Australian workers and Toyota dealers. That’s a major boost to our economy.
It’s not just the exports either. Toyota spends more than $2.8 billion each year on goods and services from 1274 local suppliers.
But like all car manufacturers that play in the super competitive medium size car segment, Toyota is no doubt feeling the pressure from all sides.
Fast moving Korean brands Kia and Hyundai are gunning for world sales domination before the end of this decade and as a consequence, have dramatically lifted the bar with smart offerings such as the Optima and i45.
The Volkswagen Group is well and truly on the podium too and recently overtook Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker with a saturation launch strategy, which includes what seems like a new model release every other month across its multi-brand portfolio.
That activity alone is pressure enough, but then you’ve got the likes of Mazda, Subaru and even Peugeot wanting a larger slice of this hotly contested segment.
Mazda has its new SkyActiv technology (read lightweight) launching in Australia this year and French giant Peugeot has just released its award-winning 508 sedan and Touring wagon that present a tempting choice to those buyers wanting European luxury and styling at Japanese price points.
The 2012 Toyota Camry cannot come soon enough, but it needs to be a considerable step up from the previous generation if it is to compete alongside what are some very capable rivals.
That’s right, the 2012 Toyota Camry is in fact the seventh generation of the model, but will the average punter be able to spot the changes?
For starters, Toyota will retain the current entry-level Camry Altise nameplate, and add the Atara; a better equipped variant that will be unique to the Australian market.
Despite the fact that every exterior panel on the new Camry is new and there are fundamental changes to the front apron and the rear of the car, those who aren’t enthusiasts may find the changes too subtle to notice.
Will these changes be enough to tempt prospective buyers away from Mazda, Subaru and Peugeot models in the same segment? I’m not so sure. Toyota has gone for the subtle approach with the new Camry and that’s most likely the result of countless research studies and focus groups that would have suggested a strategy something along the lines of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Toyota simply must succeed with the 2012 Camry, so you can bet your house on the fact that this car will be better than the previous edition.
There’s an all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder ‘Toyota Direct Ignition’ petrol engine that Toyota say is both more powerful and more fuel-efficient, but details of its output won’t be released to the press until nearer to the launch date in November. However, we suspect that the US version, which develops 133kW and 230Nm, will be similar, if not identical to what we can expect for Australian-built versions.
The Atara models will also get twin manifolds, which will see it gain more power and torque, but again, we don’t know the specific details. With more power will also come 10 per cent lower fuel consumption, and that will mean a considerable saving in both dollar terms and CO2 emissions.
The only transmission available for the new Camry will be a six-speed ECT-i automatic transmission with sequential manual shift mode. The higher-spec Atara models (there will be more than one grade) will also include shift paddles for more driver engagement.
This new generation Camry is said to be dynamically superior to the current-generation car, due in part to a more rigid body structure, revised suspension and superior aerodynamic aids including specially shaped side mirrors and stabilising fins incorporated into the taillight assembly.
The steering too is said to have improved feel and responsiveness despite its all-electric approach to power assistance.
The current model Camry has a relatively high level of refinement and good NVH management, but the 2012 edition has more sound-absorbing material that suppresses unwanted noises inside the cabin.
There’s a new dashboard design and better seats that are more aggressively bolstered than previous iterations, as well as more overall and useable space inside the car. For example, there’s 15mm more room between the hip points of passengers in both front and rear seats. Rear knee room has also been lengthened by 46mm for greater comfort.
Toyota Australia did not supply any interior images so we thought we’d show the US edition, as we expect the locally built car to be very similar.
As soon as CarAdvice is privy to further details about new Camry including pricing and more mechanical details, we’ll be sure to bring you that information.