Nissan Altima ST 2014 Review
Forget any connection between this car and the Nissan Altima V8 Supercar – only the name is the same.
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How do you move a few cars when sales start to wane? Easy one. Give it a flashy paint job, slap on some body decals and add a nice set of mags - Bob's your uncle.
That's what Toyota has done with the launch of the sporty Camry RZ, a special edition with plenty of eye candy and an attractive price to match.
Toyota doesn't need to hit the panic button just yet as the Camry is still by far and away the biggest selling car in its section of the market, with three times the number of sales of nearest rival Mazda6. However, sales are down 5.5 per cent year-on-year and the mothership is not too happy.
Starting price for the Camry range is $30,490.
The RZ special edition is priced from $31,990, $1500 more than the entry level Altise on which it is based.
But it's $1500 well spent because among other things you get a body kit, twin exhausts, sports suspension, 17 inch black alloys and a rear lip spoiler - not to mention a cool burnt orange paint job called Inferno (or a choice of five other colours).
Most of the stuff we're told is a lift from the more expensive Atara model, and that is $2000 more than the RZ.
Camry is Australia's best selling mid-sized car. Now in its seventh generation, the current model was launched here in December 2011.
Toyota has leveraged the sporty appeal of its 86 coupe and Corolla hatch to dress up the car.
The revised front comes with fog lights, sports head lights with dark accents and a new radiator grille that combines body colour and gloss black elements.
Inside the sports combo instruments, premium three-spoke steering wheel and gear-shift knob, and touchscreen that incorporates a rear view camera - have all been lifted from Atara.
Completing the package is black interior trim and the Camry RZ logo that features prominently on the front floor mats and decals on the doors and rear bumper.
Yawn. Same old same old. Old school multi-point injection, no direction injection to be found here.
It's the same 2.5-litre dual VVT-i four-cylinder engine as other models, but the free flowing dual exhaust system lifts the car's power output by a tiny 2kW to 135kW at 6000 revs.
Torque is boosted by a similar figure, rising from 231 to 235Nm at 4100 revs.
A new acoustically controlled induction system is claimed to improve torque between 2000 and 4000 revs.
The transmission has evolved to a six-speed auto these days, with a sequential shift option that means the driver can change gears manually - but it doesn't include change paddles.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.8 litres/100km and it has a 70-litre fuel tank (we were getting 7.9 after 560km).
With seven airbags and a full complement of safety systems including traction and stability control, plus anti-lock brakes and a rear view camera the Camry gets five stars from ANCAP.
Crank the engine and that characteristic dry, astringent feel makes it instantly recognisable as a Toyota.
Throttle response is sharp, the ride is firm and the low roll resistance tyres can be noisy at times, depending on the road surface. Generally however the car is quiet, smooth and composed.
The emphasis was on giving the car an optimum front-rear balance and more grip at the back.
RZ comes with cloth upholstery but there is leather on the steering wheel and gear shift.
The bit the driver's left knee rests against is plastic but has been dressed up to look like leather, complete with faux stitching.
The interior of the car is looking a little dated, particularly the trip computer which is almost retro - a small rectangular window with monochrome LCD characters.
The smallish multimedia screen looks more up to date, but does not provide satellite navigation.
Most Hyundais - and mobile phones for that matter - come with it for free these days so what's the big deal?
We should mention the ugly, ugly, audio control cluster on the steering wheel which looks like a large wart.
Camry is celebrating its 21st consecutive year as Australia's best-selling mid-size car.
Much of that business comes from fleet sales, mainly government and business - but private buyers have a lot more choice.
While the RZ could be the solution for all - it still fails to generate any real excitement.
|Altise||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,000 – 12,430||2014 Toyota Camry 2014 Altise Pricing and Specs|
|Atara R||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$7,900 – 12,210||2014 Toyota Camry 2014 Atara R Pricing and Specs|
|Atara S||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,300 – 12,870||2014 Toyota Camry 2014 Atara S Pricing and Specs|
|Atara SL||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$10,500 – 15,400||2014 Toyota Camry 2014 Atara SL Pricing and Specs|