If you think there’s one section of The Real Motormouth that hasn’t been touched for a while, then you’d be right.
It is, of course, the Car of the Year (so far) spot, which until today featured just three motors.
They are the Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost, the Fiat 500X and the Peugeot 508 GT 225, which has led the race since May 11.
Today I’m proud to say that the new Toyota Camry now leads the way. It’s a huge, well equipped and good looking 16ft long car that weighs 1,635kg yet returns a claimed best figure of 53.3mpg.
Hmm? I say claimed because after a return trip from Essex to Coventry at 70-80mph my Camry averaged 55.2mpg.
The Camry is, like so many new cars, a mild hybrid. Fair enough it doesn’t run totally on emission free electric power, but its CO2 figure of 98g/km is startling for such a big vehicle and it’s more than just a step in the right direction, it’s a leap.
That’s why I’m “proud” to choose it as my Car of the Year (so far).
Brilliance deserves to be rewarded.
The Camry owes its efficiency to a new long-stroke, high compression (14-1) 2.5-litre “Dynamic Force” engine with world-leading 41% thermal efficiency.
That’s helped by an “enhanced” Toyota Hybrid System called THS II which reduces total energy losses by 20%.
The whole engine and battery system is astonishingly high-tech, with what Toyota call: “An unprecedented level of change for the model in a single generation.
“Virtually no parts or components have been carried over from the seventh generation model (which was not sold in the UK) in the areas of HMI, cockpit design, powertrains, safety and ride and handling.”
No wonder old fashioned mechanics have given way to “technicians” because: “Reductions in power stack element loss and improvements in cooling system efficiency have reduced energy losses by around 10 per cent.
And: “The PCU (Power Control Unit) has been made more compact by integrating micro-controllers.
“The DC-DC converter’s output voltage has been extended and optimised, reducing vehicle power consumption.”
There’s more, much, much more, including: “A new nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery results in high performance from a smaller, lighter package.”
And how about this? “The new Camry features dual-zone air conditioning with nanoe technology, an air purifying system that operates automatically when the ventilation is switched on.
“This releases negatively charged ions wrapped in water molecules – between five and 20nm in size – into the cabin through the dashboard air vent on the driver’s side.
“The nanoe moisture content is approximately one thousand times that of conventional ions, and the particles have mildly acidic properties.
“As a result they have a gently moisturising effect on skin and hair and create a crisp and refreshing cabin atmosphere.”
Well, I understand that last paragraph, but what does the rest of it all mean?
It means that for the past week I’ve been driving around in a leather seated limo in which I haven’t had to put any petrol.
Its colossal near four feet (120cm) deep boot is actually 5ft 3in (160cm) wide across the back and is big enough for my golf clubs and electric trolley before I’ve even folded down the back seats to make the whole thing 6ft 6in (198cm) deep.
There’s enough rear leg room for three basketball stars, a soft touch, red-stitched, interior with more leather and stacks of silver and piano black.
Put your foot down and it’s fast, too, hitting 0-62mph in 8.3s, while a top speed of 112mph is merely theoretical in the UK.
To be fair, Toyota could have given it a Lexus badge and charged fortune for it.
Instead they haven’t, and it’s yours for less than 30 grand before you’ve hammered out a deal in the showroom.
Toyota Camry Design hybrid.
REAR MIRROR MONSTER: Unusual low set nine-bar grille under sharply styled huge headlights and a swept back body make it quite a scary car to have behind you.
BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Sixteen inch tailgate lid shaped like a spoiler from the 70s makes it different, rather than pretty.
PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen 7-inch MMI with sat nav and speed limit display, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, trip computer, leather seats, electric and heated at front, keyless start and entry, heated door mirrors, auto wipers and lights with high beam assist, phone charging tray, 17-inch alloys, DAB stereo with USB, Bluetooth, Mirror Link and aux.
NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Door mirrors don’t automatically fold in when you switch off the engine, but they do if you press the switch. Front door pockets are tiny because they’re full of speakers.
TASTY TOUCHES: Space saver spare saves the nightmare of a blow and go kit.
FAST OR LAST: Surprisingly quick from the start and a brilliant, quiet and efficient motorway cruiser.
WONGA WONDA: So much technology for the price it can’t fail to be terrific value.
WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Too big and with an old man image that won’t suit smart Chantelle.
Fact File here:
Car of the Year (so far) here: