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2006 Camry 4cyl Turbo


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What? A turbo Camry!

The Sydney Morning Herald

Friday February 18 2005

Australians buy more Toyotas than any other brand yet it struggles to ignite passion. BRUCE NEWTON reports on the latest plan to shake the cardigan image.

Toyota is poised to make its boldest move yet to blow away the dowdy image of its Camry sedan - by fitting a turbocharger and creating a genuine performance car range.

Encouraged by the success of Ford's Falcon XR6 Turbo (a car which has done wonders for Ford's fortunes and brand image), Toyota is working on establishing a performance car division to rival those of Holden and Ford.

According to Drive sources, Toyota will kick-start the program with a turbocharged version of the new four-cylinder Camry that will be released in early 2006.

Following that project, Toyota is said to be working on a performance version of the next generation Avalon large sedan, which is due to go on sale in Australia early in 2007. Uprating imported vehicles and creating concept cars will also be part of the new division's brief.

Toyota's Australian management sees the development of more exciting cars as a key way to change its whitegoods-on-wheels image and attract younger buyers.

"The concept is now approved at a board level and is under way," says a Toyota insider. "Considerable resources have been allocated to it and that will ramp up through this year and really take effect throughout the Camry and Avalon replacement timeframes. You are looking at 2006/07 before it makes an impact."

At last year's Melbourne motor show, Toyota revealed a turbo-powered version of the 2.4-litre engine that is built locally and powers the current Camry. It was fitted to the Sportivo Coupe concept car and had a claimed 180kW of power and 305Nm of torque (compared to the standard version's 112kW and 218Nm).

In recent years Toyota has had a shot at the performance car market with the Sportivo brand with mixed success. More often than not they comprise a dress-up kit and special badging but no big performance gains. The vehicles emerging from the new special projects division would be more substantial than the lukewarm Sportivo Echo and Camry.

Unlike Holden and Ford (which use contractors to run their fast-car divisions) Toyota has chosen to take its project in-house. "We won't just copy the other guys; we will do it in a Toyota way," says the insider. "We probably won't have the fastest car ... but we will find a package, a presentation, a look, that is appropriate for our customers and our sorts of product.

"We won't be copying everyone else, we will be trying to do it in our way because that's our core strength and I don't think we want to get too far away from that."

Glimpse of the future

In an attempt to reach the next generation of car buyers, Toyota unveiled this daring concept car at last year's Melbourne motor show. Called the Camry Sportivo concept coupe, Toyota said it was inspired by teenagers and twentysomethings, who were either involved in its design or were asked to submit ideas.

On the one hand, Toyota tried to excite would-be buyers by highlighting the car's turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine which drives all four wheels through a gearbox adapted from a RAV4. But paradoxically, the car had technology that would limit the potential of such power, including an electronic driver identification system and a speed-limiting system.

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