Australasia’s independent authority on vehicle safety, ANCAP, has awarded Australasia’s top-selling passenger car a 5 star ANCAP safety rating following testing against the most stringent criteria.

The new generation Toyota Corolla hatch achieved high scores across all four key areas of ANCAP assessment:

96 per cent - Adult Occupant Protection
83 per centChild Occupant Protection 
86 per centVulnerable Road User Protection 
76 per centSafety Assist

Provided as standard, all variants of the Corolla offer collision avoidance technologies including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – which can detect, mitigate or avoid crashes with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; and lane keep assist (LKA) – where if the vehicle deviates from its lane unintentionally, provides automated steering assistance to allow the driver to correct the lane position.

“The safety improvements provided in this generation of the Corolla are a significant step forward,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“The Corolla is a trusted nameplate and Australia and New Zealand’s highest selling passenger car, so it is encouraging to see this affordable, volume-seller continue to achieve a high safety standard.”

“This result clearly shows safety is not a luxury, with private and corporate fleet buyers able to access high levels of safety as advanced collision prevention technologies become increasingly available.”

“Mainstream models, like the Corolla, are now offering advanced speed assistance systems which can read road signs. These systems are the building blocks for automation, and convey the need for vehicle brands, regulators and infrastructure providers to work together to see safety and efficiency benefits realised,” Goodwin added.

A 5 star ANCAP safety rating applies to all petrol and hybrid Toyota Corolla hatch variants (hybrid variants tested) available in Australia and New Zealand.

Independent vehicle safety advocate, ANCAP, published a 5 star safety rating for the new Toyota Camry.

“The new Camry enters the Australian market with the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating,” said ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, James Goodwin. “Maximum points were scored in the destructive pole and side impact crash tests, and a high score of 15.16 points out of a possible 16 points was achieved in the frontal offset test which replicates a headon crash.”

“The Camry remains a popular choice for families and fleet buyers so it is important high levels of safety are offered. It is encouraging to see the Camry fitted as standard with an autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system which operates at city and highway speeds, as well as an active lane support system.”

“We’re pleased to see Toyota maintain its high level of safety with manufacturing of the Camry having now switched from local production to a Japanese-built model,” Goodwin said.

This 5 star ANCAP safety rating applies to all Camry variants – 4 cylinder, V6 and hybrid. The Toyota Camry is due to go on sale in New Zealand in March 2018.

The last Toyota Aurion has rolled off the line at Toyota Australia's Altona manufacturing base after 11 successful years, racking up over 110,000 sales domestically, as well as 70,000 that were built for the export market. Toyota's answer to the big-Aussie V6 family sedan, it broke cover at the 2006 Melbourne International Motorshow, and succeeded the Avalon as Toyota's largest family sedan.

At the time it featured the most advanced and powerful engine ever offered in a Toyota vehicle in Australia - a new 3.5-litre Quad Cam V6 developing 200kW of power at 6200rpm and 336Nm of torque at 4700rpm on regular unleaded petrol. Current Toyota Australia design chief Nick Hogios was at the centre of the design, further adding to the car's Aussie-built, Aussie designed credentials.

Melbourne-based Chadstone Toyota Dealer Principal, Graeme Ward, was welcomed to Altona to take delivery of the final Toyota Aurion - high-grade white Presara - meeting with the team who built the final car.

Despite the departure of the Aurion from Toyota's local line-up, Australian buyers looking for a six-cylinder V6 can rejoice as that engine configuration is confirmed in the line-up of the all-new Toyota Camry featuring an advanced direct-injection system paired with an automatic eight-speed gearbox set for release later in November.

In line with what was previously confirmed, the final Aurions rolled off the line this month, with Camry Hybrid vehicles to follow in September and Camry Petrol vehicles in October.

Toyota Australia has marked the brand's return season to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) by signing on as a leading sponsor of this year's final round, Rally Australia in November. The local deal positions Toyota as the exclusive provider of official vehicles for the "lucky" 13th round of this year's championship to be based around Coffs Harbour from November 16-19.

Signing of the agreement comes at the mid-point of a season that has been marked by the successful development of the new Toyota Yaris WRC in tough rally conditions that have included snow and ice as well as rocky gravel surfaces.

Toyota Australia's executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the company is keen to support Rally Australia, which will feature the Toyota Gazoo Racing world rally team and well-known local Toyota drivers.

"Toyota's commitment to rallying comes from the very top with our global president Akio Toyoda firmly believing that overcoming the extreme challenges of motorsport is vital in our quest to build ever-better cars," Cramb said.

"There is a strong bond between Toyota and rallying going back to the 1970s with four WRC drivers' and three WRC manufacturers' titles at the global level," he said. "We are also proud of our relationship with four-time Australian rally champions Neal Bates and Coral Taylor - a 25-year relationship during which time Toyota has also won two local manufacturers' titles. We expect to see the Bates clan - including Neal's sons Harry and Lewis - competing at their usual high standard during this year's event."

Rally Australia chairman Ben Rainsford welcomed Toyota Australia as a major event partner.

"As Rally Australia in 2017 celebrates its 25th year as a WRC event, it's wonderful to welcome a partner with its own great rally history. Toyota's name is synonymous with the sport, especially here in Australia," Rainsford said. "And while the Toyota Gazoo Racing world rally team will be drawing fans to spectate on the special stages in November, Toyota's range of road vehicles also will be in action, serving our event in many demanding official roles."

Kennards Hire Rally Australia will mark the completion of the first year of Toyota's return to the premier category of world rallying after a 17-year break. Led by four-time WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen, the Toyota Gazoo Racing world rally team has developed the Yaris WRC in tandem with Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Germany.

The car features a 1.6-litre turbo-charged, direct-injection engine that produces more than 279kW, while advanced simulation, testing and production techniques have shaped the Yaris chassis. In this year's title race, Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala has driven the Yaris WRC to victory in the snow and ice of Sweden while adding second place in the season-opening Monte Carlo rally and last month in Sardinia.

Latvala is third in the driver's championship with five rounds remaining, including Rally Australia. The team's other drivers are Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi, who has burst onto the scene by scoring points in his first two rallies.

Toyota's WRC heritage includes famous cars like the Celica Twin-Cam Turbo and GT-Four variants and the Corolla WRC with legendary drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.

Bates and Taylor - in addition to their ARC victories in 1993-95 and 2008 - have won three Australian Classic Rally Championships and Targa Tasmania. They have also competed in WRC events for Toyota Team Europe.

Australia hosted the WRC from Perth in 1989 to 2006 and from NSW since 2009 with this year's event being the sixth Rally Australia on gravel shire and forestry roads around Coffs Harbour.

Toyota has developed a new car and a revised driver line-up to challenge for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), starting in England this weekend. Two heavily modified TS050 Hybrid race cars will make their competitive debut at the Six Hours of Silverstone, the first of nine endurance races that will decide this year's championship.

Silverstone is the "home" race for two of the Toyota drivers - former WEC champion Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway, both of whom are confident the team has the car to fight at the front. Davidson said: "It's a great circuit to drive which really highlights the performance of modern LMP1 cars, especially in the fast, flowing corners where you take advantage of the downforce."

Conway said: "It will be a tricky race especially with traffic, but I think we have a competitive car and we arrive there well prepared."

Silverstone is the first LMP1 race for three-time world touring car champion José María López, who will compete in the #7 car with Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. Davidson is reunited for a third consecutive season with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. He and Buemi won the 2014 drivers' title.

Toyota Gazoo Racing will use the high-downforce version of the TS050 Hybrid at the 5.9km Silverstone circuit where the team has claimed podium finishes in each of its five previous visits. The car has been heavily modified with an upgraded hybrid powertrain and mechanical and aerodynamic updates. It has undergone around 35,000km of pre-season testing.

Track action begins on Friday with the six-hour race, which last year saw 1,144km completed by the winning car, starting on Sunday at noon (9pm AEST).

Leading independent vehicle safety advocate, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), awarded the new Toyota C-HR with the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating coinciding with its launch onto the Australasian market around the corner.

“The C-HR is an example of an affordable model which meets high levels of safety in all areas of assessment,” said ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, James Goodwin. “As a new entrant in the competitive Compact SUV segment, top safety credentials are a must if it is to win consumer sales, and it is encouraging to see key safety features provided as standard.”

“We’re continually raising the bar, and vehicle brands which keep pace will be rewarded with our 5 star stamp,” he added. The Toyota C-HR performed well in each area of assessment. Good or Acceptable occupant protection scores were seen across body regions in each of the destructive crash tests. The C-HR also comes fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane support systems (LSS) as standard.

“It is disappointing though that the AEB system on C-HR models supplied to our market is not as advanced as the system fitted to European models where it can detect pedestrians,” said Goodwin.

JARI-Matti Latvala dominated the final day’s stages to give Toyota an emphatic and historic Rally Sweden victory. The win, Latvala’s fourth on the only full snow round of the FIA World Rally Championship, was the first for Toyota since 1999 in China and an extraordinary achievement only two events into its comeback after 17 years.

Although even the official Toyota Gazoo team had modest early expectations for its Finnish-based venture, Latvala now leads the drivers’ championship standings by four points over his former Volkswagen teammate and four-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

Latvala won six of the event’s 18 stages, but the turning point came when he inherited the lead as Thierry Neuville crashed his Hyundai i20 Coupe on Saturday night. He started Sunday with just a 3.8 sec. lead over M-Sport driver Ott Tänak, but instead of the expected desperate battle he drove away as the Estonian wrestled an ill-handing Ford Fiesta.

Latvala’s advantage after winning the event-closing Power Stage was 29.2 sec. Tänak finished second, equalling his career-best WRC result but again denied a maiden victory after coming so close. Ogier also was set to be in the fight for victory on the final day’s three stages, but a spin in his M-Sport Fiesta on the very first corner put him out of contention and he finished 30.3 sec. behind teammate Tänak.

The win marked the first time since February 2014 that any driver other than Ogier has led the championship.

“It’s amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we’re winning. I have no words to describe it, I’m so emotional,” Latvala said at the finish in Torsby. “We’re at a good level but now we go forward and it gets more difficult. Mexico is next up and I’m really motivated for the championship.”

Dani Sordo was the top Hyundai finisher in fourth. The Spaniard finished 39.7sec ahead of Craig Breen, who struggled to perfect his Citroën C3’s set-up but banked good points from a solid debut in the car. Elfyn Evans was sixth in another Fiesta, despite losing nearly a minute with an engine misfire in Sunday’s opening stage. The Welshman made repairs and the car was restored to full health for the final two tests.

The new-era World Rally Cars take on the challenge of high altitudes, high temperatures and gravel roads for the first time when León hosts round three at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on 9-12 March. Mexico was the scene of Latvala’s last victory before yesterday, so his hopes should be high.

The 13-round season finishes at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast on 16-19 November.

Final result, Rally Sweden (Rd 2 of 13):

  1. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h36m03.6s
  2. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.2s
  3. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +59.5s
  4. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m11.5s
  5. Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m51.2s
  6. Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m26.6s
  7. Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5m31.2s
  8. Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen DS3 WRC) +7m14.7s
  9. Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m11.1s
  10. Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +10m02.9s
  11. Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +23m05.6s

Toyota Australia has announced that Tuesday 3 October 2017 will be its final day of vehicle production at its Altona manufacturing plant. As part of the shutdown process, the plant will stop building Aurion vehicles in August, Camry Hybrid vehicles in September and Camry Petrol vehicles in October.

The company will continue operating both AM and PM shifts until the final closure date. This will ensure the total volume production of 61,000 vehicles for the year, made up of 26,600 domestic and 34,400 exports, is met. Toyota Australia President Dave Buttner reinforced the company's commitment to supporting employees throughout the transition period and beyond.

"Our priority over the remaining months is to continue to support our employees in every way possible so that they are well prepared for the future," Buttner said. "We remain extremely proud of our rich manufacturing history which spans over 50 years. Our employees are committed to producing vehicles of the highest quality as we work towards our goal of 'last car = best global car'."

As part of Toyota Australia's transition to a national sales and distribution company, the consolidation of all corporate functions from Sydney to Melbourne will take effect by 1 January 2018. As a result of this consolidation and closure of manufacturing, the number of employees will reduce from 3,900 people to approximately 1,300.

The head office will continue to be based in Port Melbourne and most of the Altona manufacturing site will be retained for new and relocated functions.

The 2016 Festival of 86, a national celebration of Toyota's cult sports car, is set to draw dedicated owners and enthusiast admirers from all over the country when it kicks off in Canberra this Saturday (May 7). This is the third Festival of 86 held in Australia since the car was released locally in mid-2012, with the Sutton Road Driver Training Centre ready to entertain hundreds of Toyota 86 fanatics with a free-of-charge celebration event.

Highlights include race car passenger hot laps on the centre's 2.5km road course for lucky draw winners, drift rides on the skid pan, and of course an amazing array of machinery on show. Extensively modified custom cars will fill a large central display area, with classic sports Toyota models, including the iconic AE86 Corolla, mid-engine MR2, Celica Coupe and Supra GT, also forming a dedicated historic exhibit.

Toyota Australia is using the event to launch its one-make Toyota 86 Racing Series, which will be contested at selected V8 Supercars rounds, starting at the Winton SuperSprint (May 20-22). The Toyota 86 Racing Series is designed to provide an entry point and training ground for up-and-coming drivers, with Toyota adding guest professional racers (several of whom will be running hot laps at Sutton Road) at every round to help mentor amateur entrants.

The 86's global chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, a rock star in the world of 86 enthusiasts, is travelling from Japan and will be on hand to sign autographs on everything from components, including the car's dash panel and engine cover, to model cars, T-shirts, owner's manuals and posters. Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the festival's continuing popularity is further evidence of Australia's ongoing love affair with the 86.

"With over 16,000 cars sold in just on four years on sale, Australia is the 86's largest market per-capita in the world," Cramb said. "Previous Festival of 86 events have drawn big crowds of passionate people from all over the country, and we're excited to be supporting its third running," he said.

Entry to the event is free, and includes food and drink vouchers, as well as tickets to go in the draw for road course and skid pan hot laps. There's also a range of Toyota 86 and Toyota 86 Racing Series merchandise available, as well as face painting, glitter tattoos and balloon sculptures for junior 86 fans in The Kids Zone.

Registration, via the Eventbrite ticketing portal is essential, and only those holding valid tickets will be allowed entry. Gates will open at 10:00am and the event is scheduled to finish with a grand parade lap at 3:00pm.

This week I had the opportunity to drive the new Toyota Camry, and what was particularly memorable about this drive was the fact that this Camry is the last generation we’ll see in production in Australia.

Now when factories are producing their final model, you might be lucky if that model gets a few improvements here and there, minor things maybe, but with only two years to go until Toyota’s Altona factory downs tools, the Camry surprises with almost completely overhauled sheet metal. The car is sporting a new design only three and a half years into the previous model’s run, and to top it off, there are huge price reductions across the range. I’ll get into the details of the price reductions shortly but first, let’s take a look at the design.

In my own humble opinion, this is the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, where the Camry has looked sharp enough to have both sporty and refined elements. The front of the car now adopts the trapezoidal grille common in Toyota’s range today, but in the Camry it gives the car a mostly sporty appearance, with curved headlamps, fog-lamps and other areas adding to the flowing, sculpted look. The theme continues around the car and to the back, where the taillights adopt a curved-strip look that again looks both sporty and elegant at the same time.

Jumping inside the Camry, the interior has sadly received much less attention than the exterior. The dashboard design is mostly carryover from the 2012 generation, and what should have been a completely new interior was reserved for the V6-powered Aurion. One exception to this is the instrument cluster, which on the most expensive Camry variant is upgraded to a dual-gauge design with LCD screen in the centre. It’s the same look you can find in competing cars and is not all that revolutionary in 2015, but still, it’s great to find it in the Camry. Cheaper variants resort to a more traditional three-gauge setup with monochrome element LCD display.

In any case, the interior is still as roomy as ever, with large amounts of rear legroom making long family trips comfortable and relaxing. Both cloth and leather seat trims are available, while the boot can take a respectable 515 litres of cargo; down to 421 litres in the hybrid version thanks to the hybrid battery being stored there.

Drivetrains – there’s only two to choose from and they’re the same as before – 2.5 litre four cylinder petrol engine, or the same engine paired with electric motors in a hybrid configuration. The 2.5 litre engine on its own produces between 133 to 135 kW of power and 231 to 235 Nm of torque depending on the variant. In the hybrid package, the engine itself has a slightly lower 118 kW output thanks to its more efficient Atkinson cycle, but the electric motor backs this up to make a final 151 kW when you’ve got your foot down. The petrol engine gets a six speed automatic gearbox, while the hybrid gets Toyota’s usual planetary gear CVT system. Both of them power the front wheels only.

So that’s the numbers out of the way, how does it feel? In a word – right. In two words – just right. For everyday driving, both drivetrains are simply just fine.

The petrol drivetrain reacts quickly off the mark and builds up torque swiftly. The six speed auto is calibrated towards saving fuel and aggressively upshifts as soon as it can, but it will detect if you hit an incline and quickly downshift for the sake of it, so getting up hills isn’t a problem at all. If you need to floor it, the gearbox quickly gets the right gear and has you on your way to motorway speeds very swiftly.

The hybrid is slightly different, and in my experience, slightly more refined. The car will choose between the petrol and electric motors for the situation, turning on the petrol engine when accelerating, but otherwise keeping it off and relying on the electric motor for low to mid speed cruising, deceleration and when you’re stopped. The CVT gearbox means there’s no shift shock, with torque being delivered smoothly and linearly. It also means the engine will hold its revs as speed builds up – it might be a problem for some, but not for me. If you need to floor it, the electric motor power comes on instantly but it’s quite limited. The petrol engine produces the bulk of the power, but it needs around two seconds to get to maximum revs for some reason. Quite a bit slow sadly, so you’ll need to plan ahead for those times where you need to jump ahead of a car quickly. Finally, when slowing down, the electric motor becomes a generator, producing electricity to store in the battery, in return for slowing the car down to a stop.

The biggest comparison to be made between the standard petrol drivetrain and the hybrid one is fuel economy. The standard petrol drivetrain officially scores 7.8 L/100km in combined city / highway driving, while the hybrid gets 5.2 L/100km. So this means the hybrid officially consumes 33 percent less fuel than that petrol drivetrain, which is pretty significant. Real world figures? I averaged 9.5 L/100km with the petrol drivetrain and 6.5 L/100km with the hybrid – slightly more than the official figures but right around the same difference between them. Of course, your driving style makes all the difference and when I made an effort to drive less aggressively for the sake of fuel economy, I got the petrol drivetrain down to 8.6 L/100km. The hybrid? Even better – 5.7 L/100km. Driving style can make all the difference.

In terms of handling, the Camry has a soft, but balanced setup that’s oriented towards comfort. The car rides just fine with supple suspension and a well-weighted steering wheel. It goes around corners with confidence at usual speeds and that’s enough for me, but if you want a little more sportiness, the Camry Atara SX variant has a specially-designed suspension package by Toyota Australia that gives the car a firmer ride as well as more direct steering. It definitely creates even more confidence around the corners, at the cost of slightly more jiggling over the little bumps and corrugations we have on our roads.

The Camry is reasonably well refined, keeping out the noise and vibrations of driving, but the hybrid also gets an acoustic windscreen that noticeably reduced the noise levels in the cabin.

The Camry can be had in four grades – Altise, Atara S, Atara SX and Atara SL. The Altise comes with 16 inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, cruise control and a six speaker sound system with USB and Bluetooth support. If you get the hybrid drivetrain, you’ll also get climate control air conditioning, proximity keyless entry and the dual gauges with LCD screen instrument cluster. The Atara S adds rear parking sensors, bigger 17 inch alloys, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and the Toyota Link apps system. The top of the range Atara SL also gets satellite navigation, leather seats, 10 speaker sound system and a range of modern safety technologies including automatic high beam, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert.

The Atara SX is a sporty offshoot of the Atara S with the sports suspension I mentioned earlier. It also gets a rear lip spoiler, sports driving pedals and hot 18 inch black alloy wheels.

The Camry starts from $28,990 driveaway for a Petrol Altise, while a hybrid Altise is $32,990. The range tops out at the hybrid Atara SL which is $42,490 driveaway.

This is definitely Toyota’s best Camry ever – it looks very sharp and fashionable, it’s practical and well equipped, it’s now very good value for money and I’m sure it will have Toyota’s legendary reliability as well. Definitely a worthwhile choice in your car shopping.

3 October 2015
Albert Malik