Jap-Am Camry

Toyota’s new mid-sizer ‘most changed ever’; gains unexpected visual flair

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

A BATTLE royale is looming in 2018 between the controversial Holden NG Commodore out of Germany and an all-new Toyota Camry, as the Japanese-American four-door sedan steps out – and up – in a number of key areas.

Japanese-American? Let’s face it.

As the US’s best-selling passenger car over the last 15 years, Toyota’s venerable mid-sizer attracted the most attention and the biggest crowd at the eighth generation’s glitzy unveiling at January’s Detroit Motor Show.

And, for once, all that Yankee hullabaloo might have substance to it, judging by the comparatively bolder (if still derivative) clothes that the 2018 Camry will wear courtesy of California-based designer Ian Cartabiano. Two distinct nose treatments, farless bloat, and even the option of a ‘floating’ blacked-out roof treatment… pretty racy stuff for America’s sweetheart.

However, the most changed Camry in its history will also go back to its roots, with the 2018 Australian model reverting to Japanese sourcing. As a result, Australian company officials reckon the XV60 probably won’t match the outgoing version’s sales figures (in 2016 it finished in sixth place, ahead of Commodore) primarily because Toyota can’t push the locally made angle any more.

“Obviously buying policies will change… we were getting some special treatment from various government authorities and larger Australian companies,” Toyota sales and marketing executive director Tony Cramb said. “We’re selling more now than we would ordinarily have sold… so sales will come off.”

But the really big news lurks

underneath, via the XV60’s boxfresh Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA), which will bring with it much greater rigidity, far fewer noise paths, and a new double-wishbone rear suspension, with Aussie tuning.

A trio of engine choices are coming – the carry-over 133kW/231Nm 2.5-litre, fourcylinder/ six-speed auto combo, a petrol-electric hybrid version, and an all-new direct-injection 3.5-litre V6 with an eight-speed auto. This marks the return of the Camry V6, and death of the Aurion badge.

Detroit’s other stars

At the other end of the sales spectrum to the Camry is Mercedes-AMG’s hypercar, now called Project One. Internally known as the R50, AMG chairman Tobias Moers confirmed power outputs upwards of 746kW for the Formula One-engined project.

The company also revealed new snapshots of the car’s rear, and unveiled the official brochure being given to prospective owners.

Detroit took place just a week after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, which stole much of January’s high-tech headlines. However, Motor City still hosted the unveiling of new electric technology in the VW I.D.

BUZZ, while Nissan’s Vmotion 2.0 Concept showcased the Japanese company’s self-driving ambitions.

Infinity and Audi both unveiled production-ready SUV concepts in the QX50 and Q8 respectively.

The mid-size QX50 will debut Infiniti’s ultra-advanced variable compression engine, while Q8 brings hybrid tech and coupe styling to the Q7 body.