Best medium car over $50,000

A host of improvements has resulted in the second generation Toyota Camry Hybrid H being promoted to medium car winner in 2012.

The numb steering, hard ride and inherent understeer that blighted the first generation are gone, replaced with dynamics and poise.

An extra 46mm of legroom has been added to the back, while the boot has more space thanks to the relocation of the DC converter to the front and the battery being moved forward 100mm.

The volume-selling H model is also priced sharper than last year’s Hybrid 4 (down $2,000), and is covered by Toyota’s capped price servicing.

Performance from the Atkinson118 kW, 213 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine - coupled to an electric motor via Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system - is now brisker (0-100 km/h in eight seconds).

Drivers can choose from three driving modes: Normal; Eco; and EV. Normal provides full power; Eco softens throttle response and reduces power losses through air-conditioning; and EV mode enables the car to be driven for a short distance on the silent-running electric motor.

Fuel economy has been improved to 5.2 litres/100 km and emissions lowered to 121 g/km, earning the Camry Hybrid five out of five stars in the government's Green Vehicle Guide to match its five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Australia's Best Cars Best Medium Car over $50,000 BMW 3 Series 320i Turbo

Manufacturer’s List Price: $34,990

BMW 3 Series 320i Turbo - Criteria out of 10

Value for Money   Rating 
Pricing  9H
Depreciation  10M
Running Costs  8M
Fuel Consumption  8H
Warranty and dealer access   3H
Insurance  7L
Standard Features  5H

Design and Function   Rating 
Safety  10C
Environment  9C
Comfort  8H
Space  7M
Practicality  9M
Ergonomics  9H
Build and Finish  9C

On the Road   Rating 
Performance  9H
Ride  9H
Handling  9C
Braking  9C
Smoothness and Quietness   9H

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.