Petrol power

Dec 01 2012, 12:01 IST
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SummaryEver since diesel cars started getting popular, a plethora of options have cropped up across the market.

Can the Camry, Accord and Sonata hold fort among diesel executive sedans

Ever since diesel cars started getting popular, a plethora of options have cropped up across the market. Yet, while all have bowed to the Indian consumer’s whims and fancies, there is still one segment that has steadfastly refused to give in.

It’s the premium segment, sitting high and mighty up the value chain in the car market, where four out of six cars remain loyal to petrol. They really defy logic, the petrol premium sedans in a diesel-driven market, but they are heavyweights after all (at least in a global sense)—Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Teana. The first two are among the top-selling cars in the world (and the US), while Hyundai’s Sonata is catching up fast. In this article, we will focus on the first three petrol options, since Nissan’s Teana is a fringe player in the segment, at best.

There are those who like to scream out that they have arrived in life and want to be surrounded with all the bling the world can offer—these guys have much to choose from today. But, there is also a certain section who prefer to be subtle and have nothing to prove to anyone. For the latter, Toyota’s new Camry is probably the best ride in the premium segment.

The Camry’s straight design lines—both outside and inside—give a pleasant and relaxed look. It is far less radical than the previous generation model. Conservative in taste, faux wood inserts across the cabin give it an upmarket look, while abundant chrome inserts on the door sills, grille, fog lights and the rear-end, try to cheer up the exterior—chrome seems to have become the easiest way to attach a premium tag to any car. (One must remember that what is premium for India, is the mid-size segment in the western markets.)

The Camry is best enjoyed on the backseat where it really comes on its own on a highway ride. The smooth engine and mildly stiff suspension are best tuned for comfort, so much so that high speeds are almost forgotten. Toyota’s 2.5-litre dual VVT-i engine delivers a maximum of 181ps of power at 6,000rpm to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, but what really makes the Camry sprightly is the 233Nm peak torque that comes in as early as 4,100rpm. To make things clear for our readers, torque is

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