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The Camry has been absent from these shores for the last 15 years, but now it is back with an all-new hybrid powertrain. Can it pass muster against the status quo?
17in alloy wheels, LED lights, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and heated front seats, sat-nav and a reversing camera
Certainly, no one could accuse Toyota of getting carried away with extravagant claims for its all-new Camry.
It may be a global smash, with over 19 million units sold worldwide since its original conception, but with a sales projection of just 500 units per year for the UK, it seems the latest Camry is set to remain a niche player.
To put that number in context, 13,500 Vauxhall Insignias and 12,500 Volkswagen Passats rolled out onto our roads last year. What is more, while the Passat estate outsells its saloon sibling by two to one, the new Camry is only available as a four-door saloon.
So, are there any reasons to even consider the new Camry? Well, yes, and plenty of them.
For a start, the Camry is powered by Toyota's latest hybrid tech, which means you get a punchy 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a torque-rich electric motor and together they deliver plenty of power to the front wheels via a standard CVT automatic transmission.
Ok, so we hear your sighs at the mere mention of the anagram, but this latest CVT transmission is by far the best iteration of the genre to date.
That said, what really aids the mechanical machinations of the transmission is the strong low and mid-range torque produced by the powerplant. With loads of grunt at its disposal, the Camry is able to gain speed progressively and proportionally, and in a far more cultured manner than the usual hybrid fashion, which typically sees engine revs head to the stratosphere every time a shot of meaningful acceleration is called for.
The Camry will also run in silent electric mode (albeit for a very limited period), but because the transitions from electric to petrol power and vice-versa are so seamless, any shenanigans going on under the bonnet seem a world away from what is happening inside the cabin.
While the ride quality is generally smooth and well controlled, and the steering feels fluid and accurate, it is the splendid isolation of the suspension, wind and road noise that makes the Camry feel more like a full-blown luxury car than a typical D-segment workhorse.
It is a similarly sophisticated story inside, with oodles of electronic gadgets including electric adjustment for the leather seats, acres of lush panelling, deep pile carpets and full-blown dual-zone climate control, plus a powered steering column on the pricier Excel model.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Camry is its infotainment set-up. At first sight, the central screen real estate looks big and bold, but the actual operational area of the touchscreen is rather small and fiddly, and can be infuriatingly unresponsive to the touch.
Worst of all, although Toyota's engineers continue to claim they are working on the adaptation of Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, we have heard this story several times before on many recently launched Toyotas - and still there is little evidence of this happening.
If you tend to spend a lot of your life behind the wheel, then you may want to think seriously about this glaring omission.
More positively, if it is true, as many believe, that space equates to luxury, then the Camry certainly delivers on that front, with loads of head, leg and elbow room and a large glass area, combining to create a light and spacious interior environment.
Obviously, that saloon-only body does mean there are certain limitations to boot access, so loading bulkier items may be a bit of a struggle, but the overall 524 litres of space is pretty generous and the rear seatbacks will split-fold to accommodate longer items.
With a starting price of £29,995 the Camry certainly isn't cheap, but as is the case with all hybrids it does have an ace up its sleeve in the guise of its lowly CO2 emissions. With a highly competitive 23% benefit-in-kind (BIK) rating, it compares extremely favourably next to a 2.0 150hp diesel Passat's 30% ranking.
Toyota Camry Hybrid Excel
On sale: July 2019
Residual value: 42.1%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,598
Cost per mile: 45.18p
Fuel consumption: 53.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 101g/km (23%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £124/£249
Boot space: 524 litres
Engine size/power: 2,487cc/176hp plus 120 bhp electric motor, rated at 215hp combined