Toyota’s latest Camry evokes happy memories for Ian Lamming.
SOME cars have a soft spot in my swinging brick of a heart and the Camry is one of those.
The Toyota saloon takes me back, probably 30 years, when I was younger, when life was simpler and being spontaneous wasn’t a crime.
As the working day came to an end in the district reporting office, I asked my colleagues whether anyone fancied a run up to the Northumberland coast for a play on the beach?
One man and one girl took me up on the offer and we piled into the Camry of the day, which I remember was plush and well-equipped. A sand castle or two later, a fish and chip tea and the decision was taken to stay the night in a cheap B&B, before getting up early, reversing our pants and heading off back to work the next morning. Happy days if a little ‘eugh’.
The seminal moment was down to the Camry because it was a car that encouraged me to travel long haul.
Decades later, nothing has changed and the Camry remains a plush and well-equipped way to travel long distances at a moment’s notice.
When I say nothing has changed of course it has. The globe is fast becoming Stig-of-the-dump, the sea-levels have risen and the ice caps have shrunk alarmingly. This bothers me and it upsets Toyota which is why this powerful saloon, this eighth generation Camry, is only partly powered by fossil-fuel, albeit it petrol. The rest is self-charging electric and what a fabulous combination that is.
As I make the first of ten 60 mile return journeys, running our budding actor to his theatre by the lake, it occurs that the week might very well dent my wallet. Normally a 2.5 litre petrol, which wallops out 215BHP, is only going to return upper 20s to low 30s in the miles per gallon stakes. Not so the new Camry – the trip computer is reading an incredible 57.
Yet somehow this frugality is not at the expense of performance. The Mercedes saloon has been filling my mirrors for an annoying amount of time. Either overtake or back off, don’t just sit there, I grumble. Then, on the slip road of the motorway, I lose patience and floor the accelerator. Wow! This is a quick car as the rev needle buries itself into the powerband and the CVT gearing hurries to catch up. In an instant there’s no three pointed star to be seen. Ha! I like this car.
All that power and handling to match. Camry floats along and when it comes to a bend rounds it on rails. Dynamically it is a great car to drive. It is spirited and fun and you can play around without taking chunks out of the economy, making it very much my kind of car.
The pleasure of driving is enhanced further by its excellent cabin. Modern, tactile and beautifully built, it is highly specified and exceptionally quiet and comfortable. In that sense new Camry more than lives up to the rose-tinted memory of the Toyota of yesteryear which transported me and my chums to the seaside. Happy days.
Toyota Camry Design
Engine: 2.5 petrol plus electric
Top speed: 112mph
Combined MPG: 53.3
CO2 g/km: 98