2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid India first drive
The logic is undeniable: hybrids are the way forward; they're more efficient, more eco-friendly, they're cheaper to run and contrary to popular belief, they can be just as fun to drive as any road car. In Japan, 40 per cent, and globally about 14 per cent of all Toyota Cars sold are hybrids. In India, this fraction is negligible. It speaks of a society's acceptance of a better technology and clearly, India is far behind. The immediate reason is that hybrids aren't manufactured in India, so thanks to the high duties on CKD kits and imports, they are priced substantially higher - and in our price conscious country, that's definitely a deal breaker.
In Japan, hybrids are further incentivised, but the Indian government offers manufacturers no such incentives to offer hybrids in India. Toyota however, tired of this stalemate, is set to launch its second hybrid offering in India after the Prius - the Camry Hybrid.
The Camry Hybrid isn't going to win any beauty contests on the outside
The Camry Hybrid isn't going to win any beauty contests on the outside. But what will hold good for it is the cliche "It's what's on the inside that matters". The interiors reek of luxury and the build quality is top-notch, as you'd expect from a flagship Toyota. They have made no secret of the fact that the interiors are designed around the rear passengers. Certain features like the electronically reclining rear seats, rear armrest controls that operate nearly everything apart from the steering wheel and the pedals, even the collapsing front headrest to give the rear passenger an unrestricted view; these are all features unheard of in the segment.
Then, of course, there's a huge amount of head space, shoulder room and leg room, and you can't possibly need more. Toyota have had to redo the suspension settings too, taking into consideration the added weight of the rear battery and the larger wheels. And they've done a good job of it as well. The ride quality is just as exceptional as the conventional hybrid. And that's saying something!
The interiors reek of luxury and the build quality is top-notch
The drivetrain of the Camry Hybrid is a series-parallel one, which is currently the most accepted hybrid layout the world over. It is driven individually or by a combination a petrol engine and an electric motor. Now hybrids are generally designed to maximise efficiency, so you'd imagine that Toyota will have made certain compromises over the conventional Camry.
The Camry hybrid has a series-parallel drivetrain
Not with the Camry Hybrid, they haven't! It has a 2.5 litre petrol 4-cylinder motor like the conventional Camry, but it also gets an electric motor which together makes about 200PS over 20PS more than the conventional Camry. And that's not all: you'd generally imagine the tyres to be narrower for lesser roll resistance, but the Yokohamas on the Camry Hybrid have a wider track for better grip. So there is no compromise on performance or dynamics; if anything, they've actually bettered them.
The hybrid is eco-friendly, and it's got many more embellishments over the petrol Camry
So, the Camry Hybrid is more powerful, it's more efficient and lighter on your pocket in terms of daily use. It's eco-friendly, and it's got many more embellishments over the petrol Camry. Now, if only Toyota manages to price it just about Rs 4-5 lakh more than the petrol - which is already priced on the higher side and isn't doing much for Toyota's sales in India - the hybrid should easily outsell the petrol Camry.
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