Toyota Camry Hybrid : Anniversary Drive

  • Nov 11, 2014
“What? Really? 13? From this?” exclaimed the gentlemen, “How?”

“It has petrol engine? And it has a mileage of 13 km/l? You must be kidding”

“It's a Hybrid? Oh.... How?.. What?”

That was how one person responded to the fact that this huge, albeit subtle, sedan's amazing fuel-efficiency figure. He was not the only one, there were many who interrupted this guy taking photos of a random car called the Toyota Camry Hybrid and seemed not to be able to figure out how this feat was achieved. These reactions of surprise are amusing at first, but it makes you wonder why this amazing car has not garnered more attention.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Front Right Quarter Dynamic

There are many reasons for the relative obscurity of the Camry Hybrid, the most important of them being its cost. At Rs. 30 lakh, it is priced similarly to cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo S60. The A4, 3-Series and C-Class are considered more luxurious by most people in India, Toyota does not have the same brand value.

There is also the fact that hybrid technology is not very popular in India, there are only 4 cars which employ it and all of them cost more than Rs. 30 lakh. The Camry hybrid costs about Rs. 5 lakh more than the standard car as well, which may be one reason why many customers give it a miss. The next thing that puts people off is that the general assumption that owning a diesel driven car is better on the wallet, the Camry hybrid gets a petrol-electric.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Engine Bay

Toyota was the first manufacturer to offer a hybrid car in India when it launched the Prius notchback in 2010. It had directly imported to India and thus was (and still is) very expensive with a starting price of R. 37 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. The Toyota Camry Hybrid may not be very popular, but it has laid down the groundwork for the company to start hybrid production in India in the earnest when the conditions allow for it. The Government of India may introduce some legislation under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 plan which will provide direct subsidies to those who buy vehicles which run on alternative fuels. Toyota assembles the Camry Hybrid in India, it could use the same facilities to mass-produce smaller hybrid cars too.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid was launched here on 28th August 2013 and the company is celebrating its first anniversary by letting us re-experience the marvel that it is. Toyota is also celebrating selling over 7 million hybrid vehicles worldwide by September 2014.

Most of you may be familiar with the Camry, the petrol-only variant has been on sale in India since 2010. The Camry is a long, low car with understated looks. The Camry Hybrid gets some unique elements which makes it stand out, the Grey Metallic paint which is unique to the Hybrid also adds to the appeal of the car.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Front

The front is dominated by multi-element headlamps which feature twin LED-projector headlights, a first in the segment, along with halogen lamps. The fog lamps are placed to the edge of the front bumpers and surrounded by a very prominent chrome unit. The grille features chrome with two black slats, the Toyota logo has a blue highlight which is another sign that this is a hybrid. A chrome strip sits above the grille, it may be too much of chrome for some. The bumper is the only aggressive element at the front, the lower air-dam is highlighted.
Move to the side and you see a very simple, staid design. The three-box design is evident, there is a bit of Toyota's older styling language showing up. Overall, the vehicle has a very mature profile, it’s large size only lending to it’s luxury appeal further complimented by silver 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Rear

The rear of the car continues the boxy subtle styling, and gets wide combination tail-lamps. A chrome strip sits between the tail-lamps above the number plate holder. The reverse lamps and fog lamps are placed on the boot-lid and are part of the combination tail-lamps. A 'Hybrid' and 'Hybrid Synergy Drive' along with a blue-highlight Toyota logo give away the fact that this is hybrid car.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Dashboard

The interiors look luxurious, but the car's age is certainly showing. The surfaces are nice to hold and reek of quality, but stuff like the faux-wood paneling may not be to everyone's tastes. The instrument cluster on the Camry Hybrid is different from that of a normal car; you get the speedometer in the centre, the left pod shows which power source is being used and how, the right pod shows the average fuel-efficiency along with the fuel-reserve. A digital screen in the centre can be programmed to show the available range, average speed, economical driving display and a simple energy flow diagram. The digital screen to the left shows the outside temperature, engine temperature and gear-position. The screen to the right shows the odo-reading and trip-reading.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Instrument Cluster

Equipment-wise, the Camry does not disappoint at all. Only one variant of the car is sold in India and it is filled to the gills with kit. A keyless entry-and-go system, memory settings for the driver seat, steering (reach and rake) and ORVMs, electrically adjustable and retractable ORVMs, electrically retractable rear sun-shade, six-way electrically adjustable driver seat, four-way electrically adjustable front passenger seat, vented front seats, multi-function steering wheel, multimedia-display with reverse display, etc. are the features you find at the front.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Rear Left Door Open

Rear passengers will love the reclining seats, A/C vents, manual door sun-shades, multimedia controls on the centre arm-rest, adjustable front passenger seat with foldable headrest, illuminated cabin including floor illumination and individual reading lamps etc.

The Camry hybrid is driven by a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor connected to a 12V 6.5Ah battery, and being a series-parallel hybrid any of these sources can be used to power the car. The car always starts in the Eco mode and starts off powered by the electric motor, the petrol motor switches on if the battery needs to be charged or if the driver goes heavy on the throttle. The power from the motor (be it electric or petrol) is sent to the front wheels via an electronically controlled CVT.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Energy Flow Display

The hybrid system has a maximum power output of 205PS, but the car is never lightning-fast. Blame this on the higher weight of the car thanks to the addition of the electric motors and battery, the economically inclined hybrid system and the E-CVT. This is not to say that the car is slow by any means, as it can pick up pace in a fairly rapid manner. That said, it is slow to react to pedal inputs though. Settle into a smooth driving style and the brilliance of the system comes forth; it is very hard to know what is powering the car it is always that silent, the CVT keeps the power flowing smoothly to the wheels and the heavy sound-deadening around the cabin keeps most of the noise out.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Front Right Quarter Dynamic

The best part about the hybrid system is that it is very, very efficient. The standard Camry has a real-world fuel-efficiency of around 9 km/l, while the on-board computer on the Camry hybrid was always showing an average figure of over 13 km/l on our short drive. We drove in various conditions (highway stint, stuck-in-traffic) on various road surfaces over a period of five hours. The comfortable seats, easy-to-drive system and supple suspension meant that we were as relaxed as, or maybe more than, the first time we stepped into it. It was also good knowing that we were saving fuel, releasing less pollutants and thus helping the environment at the same time.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Drive Rear Right Quarter Dynamic

Photo Gallery

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