Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is widely popular even over a century after its publication in 1886. This intriguing story of Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego, Mr. Hyde, that is the opposite of everything.
The two characters are so different – no man would ever imagine they could exist together. And while you’d think that both characters wouldn’t agree on anything, perhaps if they lived today, I can recommend one thing they might agree upon: the car they would drive.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid Electric is the real Jekyll and Hyde of the automotive world. A strange analogy perhaps, but one that seems to suit the character of one of the most successful, most technically advanced cars on the market today.
You see, this is really a car of dual personality. On the one hand, it is the perfect family sedan. Spacious, comfortable, dependable, and easy to live with. It’s eco-friendly, consumes little fuel (sometimes it consumes nothing at all), and would be the perfect car for a well-respected, responsible doctor.
On the other hand, this is also a car to enjoy. No, it will not turn into a gas-guzzling monster with a bit of potion, but it has its mischievous traits. The first thing you notice is its stunning design. I mean, seriously, when was the last time you saw a mid-sized sedan that forced you to take another look?
Design-wise, there is no denying this generation of the Camry Hybrid Electric sets new standards. The car has an aggressive front end, a sweeping roofline, and an overall aura of confidence that you rarely find in the shrinking violets we’re so used to in this segment. Yet still, this is an elegant car. It oozes confidence, clearly targeting the more mature customer. Dr. Jekyll would love it for sure.
Inside, there’s plenty of space, in the front and the back. Leather is abundant, much perhaps to Mr. Hyde’s liking! There are also lots of gadgets that everyone would find more than useful. A large touchscreen takes care of the infotainment system, and the excellent sound system itself would play happily the best of Beethoven’s classic, or the latest dance tunes topping the charts.
But it’s when driving the car that the true double character of the Camry really shines through. It’s comfortable and easy to drive. The Hybrid Electric system might be there mainly to save fuel and reduce emissions, which it does brilliantly, as demonstrated by a 3.8 liter/100 km average, and 98 g/km of CO2, but it also adds a level of quietness unprecedented in this segment, especially when driving in town at low and moderate speeds.
The EV mode, for electric vehicles, is a gem. Going slowly through town, or when stuck in a traffic jam, the Camry Hybrid Electric glides effortlessly and silently, saving fuel and providing a surprisingly brisk pickup, thanks to the instantaneous torque delivery of the model’s dual electric motors.
What Mr. Hyde would love though, is putting that torque to good use once the lights go green. It might be a mid-sized sedan, but Toyota hasn’t forgotten that there’s a driver behind the steering wheel, and that driver would like to have some fun every now and then. Press the ‘Sport’ button, and the car puts both its engines to good use. The 2.5-liter petrol engine produces 176 horsepower, but thanks to additional 118 horses from the electric motors, the combined power output is 215 horsepower.
That power comes in handy as you push your right leg deeper. In no time, the car’s calm character gets replaced by an almost surprising surge to torque, propelling the Camry Hybrid Electric forward at a brisk pace. And it’s not just the acceleration that you’ll enjoy. Arriving at a corner at what feels like an uncomfortable speed, the brakes are more than up to the job of reducing the speed effectively. Turn in the wheel, and the front tires bite into the tarmac, finding a surprising amount of grip to counter that dreaded understeer, and allowing you to carve your way around the bend confidently. Once you hit your apex, it’s merely a matter of stomping on the right pedal, easing that steering lock, and riding that wave of torque, as the tires find the necessary traction to shoot again down the straight into the next corner.
For a car that boasts such impressive eco credentials, it feels oddly satisfying to drive it this way. What’s more impressive is that the Camry Hybrid Electric takes it all in its stride, as if it was designed from the outset with spirited driving in mind. That dual character is what really makes it stand out. Yes, it was designed to be the perfect car for Dr. Jekyll; comfortable, eco-friendly, and with low fuel consumption and an impressive, elegant interior. But when Mr. Hyde comes out, he won’t be disappointed, as he’ll find a car boasting high levels of luxury, the latest technologies, and one that provides impressive performance and driving dynamics. The fact that it’s all wrapped up in such an impressive design is simply the icing on the cake.
So yes, we might all like to project the image of the good Dr. Jekyll. But every once in a while, we all want to release our inner Mr. Hyde, and there’s no better car suited for that role than the new Toyota Camry Hybrid Electric.