Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition culminates the very best of the Aussie Camry, but doesn’t do quite enough to pay homage to Toyota Australia’s manufacturing history.
This review is a little different to the ones we traditionally pen (or type) at Motoring Guru. Rather, it looks back through history and looks at one of the very last Australian-made cars ever: Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition.
So, first and foremost the trip down memory lane. Toyota Motor Corporation started making cars in Australia back in 1963 with the Toyota Tiara, then they began producing the Toyota Corona, then the Corolla and then the Camry. It is the Camry that would become the linchpin of Toyota Australia’s manufacturing operations.
Around 80 per cent of cars were shipped overseas, predominately to Middle Eastern markets and Toyota Australia had exported over 500,000 cars to foreign markets. These are impressive numbers.
Yet sadly, all this is grinding to a halt. Like the rest of the Australian car manufacturing industry, Toyota Australia is switching to a full-line importer and distributor, and this brings us to our car for this week, the Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition.
Based on the top of the range and the most technologically advanced Camry ever, the Camry Atara SL hybrid, the Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition adds a black roof, a red strip to the front splitter, some special badging and floor mats, blue back plate lighting in the door sills and throughout the interior.
All these extra items are on top of the Camry Atara SL’s standard adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, leather trim, plethora of airbags, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation and premium JBL sound system.
The Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition is also the rarest car we’ve driven, with Toyota just producing 54 examples as a tribute to 54 years of local production.
So, what’s it like to drive? Well rather pleasant actually. The interior is logically laid out, well finished and offers and abundance of room for all five passengers, and rings home why the Camry has made such a predictable family car choice for generations.
Not sure about that blue interior lighting, though. It doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the package and seems at odds with the remainder of the rather sensible interior.
We weren’t a fan of the Camry Atara SX. Toyota had firmed up the suspension and gave the Camry and athletic makeover inside and out to give the car some sporty appeal. We think – especially in terms of the ride – they just made the whole package uncomfortable. And that four-cylinder engine was too noisy.
The Toyota Camry Commemorative Edition is a different beast altogether. The ride, for one is absorptive and excellent. Handling, however, isn’t so impressive. While the Camry is by no means unwieldy, the front can step out and the wheels can spin under moderate/hard acceleration. The majority of drivers probably won’t notice, but it was an issue that came to our attention.
Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain consists of a 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 118kW @ 5700rpm and 213Nm @ 4500rpm. This engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission and an electric motor. The system can drive for up to a few kilometres of purely electric power for up to 40km/h or so, and the system automatically switches between electric and petrol motors, depending on driving conditions. We always found transitions to be quick, smooth and seamless.
While useful in the city, the hybrid system makes an ideal partner for the adaptive cruise control. We did a lengthy stint through country Victoria on a warm Spring day and the Camry’s near silent running made for optimum sleeping conditions for one of our distinguished passengers.
Toyota claims and official average fuel consumption figure 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres, but we found around 7.0 litres more realistic.
Should I buy one?
In all honesty, we feel that Toyota Australia hasn’t done enough with the Camry Commemorative Edition to honour its lengthy and hugely important impact on the Australian landscape. It simply looks like someone has ticked a few extra boxes on the options list.
What it does demonstrate is that while the Camry may be a little bland, it is well made, thoughtfully designed very efficient and ever so comfortable. And if you want an Aussie car that ticks all those boxes, make a bee line to your Toyota dealer before stocks run out.