There’s little doubt that no one buys a Toyota Camry because of some deep desire to tackle a twisty mountain pass like a pro. In fact over the years the Camry’s handling dynamics can be best described as “safe but totally uninvolving”, trust me I’ve owned one for the last five years. But Australia’s best-selling locally built car has black sheep in the herd, the Atara SX has been given a solid dose of Aussie tuning know how. The result is a surpsingly well sorted and kinda fun Camry.
Engine / Transmission: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol. 6-speed automatic.
Vital Stats: 135kW @6000rpm / 235Nm @4100
Toyota Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.8L / 100km
EFTM Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.6L/ 100km
Price: From $31,990
Wow Factor: The best looking Camry ever? I think so, given this is a standalone sports model in the range. Toyota has made a mess of Camry body kits in the past, the SX leaves such convoluted examples for dead! Never before have 18-inch alloys filled the wheel arches of a Camry, they look great in black complimenting the darkened front end and glistening LED daytime running lights. Leather-accented sports seats add to the sense of occasion as does the rear lip spoiler.
Most Impressive: What makes the SX model a more appealing proposition is the Australian-tuned sports suspension and faster-ratio steering set up. It really does transform the Camry experience, the ride is firm but going around corners is finally fun without being sheer joy. The steering is meaty and direct combined with a mostly flat and predictable stance. Perhaps it is now hip to be square?
Least Impressive: It doesn’t go any quicker than the other petrol models. In fact if you really wanted to have a go at the lights you’d be better off with a hybrid model. The 2.5-litre is really the Camry’s weak point, it’s underpowered, lacks the sophistication and efficiency of smaller capacity European units.
The Sweeping Statement:
If you actually want to buy a Toyota Camry rather than have Thrifty allocate you one occasionally, the Atara SX model is the go. It’s the only variant that just maybe won’t have the neighbors scoffing at you lack of motoring flair.