AFTER a gap of 15 years Toyota is bringing Camry back to the UK market with a new hybrid powertrain under the bonnet.
The Camry was pulled out of our showrooms because it was not selling well enough and was replaced by the worthy but dull Avensis which was ditched recently because customers were opting more and more for SUV models and the cost of replacing it was too much.
That left a gap in Toyota's UK line-up and it is now being filled by the world's best-selling sedan which is popular all over the world.
Sold in 100 countries, the Camry has notched over 19 million sales since its launch back in 1982 and this eighth generation model has been developed from the ground up.
It sits on the company's TNGA platform and will only be sold in the UK with a self-charging 2.5-litre petrol hybrid engine.
Built in Japan for our market the company is not expecting huge sales but this is a very good car and they may do better than they think because of the tax advantages of owning a hybrid.
On top of that the Camry is a stylish looking saloon with both its trim levels being generously equipped and it also provides a comfortable and relaxing drive that will appeal to both the fleet and private market.
Its main competitors will be the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and top-end Insignias but this car may attract sales from over-priced cars with fancy badges.
It is certainly good enough and its Design model costs £29,995 with the top Excel trim version priced at £31,295.
The car is bold and stylish and features Toyota's new ‘catamaran' inspired design language. A wide upper grille hosts the Toyota badge and slim LED headlights sit below the creased bonnet.
A large trapezoidal lower grille dominates the lower half of the bumper and combined with the front spoiler gives the car a sporty ground-hugging look.
Flared wheel arches house either 17 or 18-inch alloys, the latter having 20-spokes and daytime running lights are also part of the package as is a choice of five paint colours.
The Camry has a classy look in profile and the rump helps to give it an athletic look.
I was really impressed by the interior which has a real premium feel to it.
The comfortable seats are clad in nice leather and most of the surfaces are covered in quality soft-touch materials and piano black trim and wood mouldings continue the upmarket feel along with satin chrome finishes.
The instruments are well laid out and easy to read and use.
A seven-inch touchscreen allows you to use Toyota's Touch 2 and Go multimedia and navigation system with 3D mapping, DAB radio, Bluetooth and MirrorLink for smartphone connectivity.
Sadly, like the new Rav4 the Camry does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and Toyota has to get that sorted.
You do get wireless smartphone charging and the dual-zone air conditioning system is apparently so clever that it can moisturise your skin as you travel by releasing particles into the cabin.
A comfortable driving positon allowed me to enjoy the fine roads and lovely scenery of Croatia which were both impressive.
The 2.5 hybrid delivers its power smoothly through a six-speed CVT automatic gearbox which only became fussy when you pushed it hard.
The Camry takes 8.3 seconds to reach 62mph and is good for up to 112mph. It coped well with twisting country roads and on toll motorways with superb surfaces.
Four drive modes called EV, Eco, Normal and Sport alter the car's responses but it is probably best left to make its own choices.
You also have the ability to change the CVT manually using the centre lever but frankly that is pretty pointless. The handling and ride are refined rather than sporting and the steering is accurate with plenty of feel.
As you would expect the Camry is fuel efficient with low emissions and is capable of up to 53.3mpg on the latest WLTP standard with emission as low as 98g/km depending on wheel size.
On the practical side the cabin is spacious and quiet and will take five adults in comfort with the rear legroom being very generous. The boot is also large with 524 litres of space being available and there are useful storage areas inside the car.
My driving companion was taken with the thickness of the car's carpets and they combined with numerous other measures to filter out road noise. The Camry is surely one of the quietest cars to drive on sale at the moment and that makes it very relaxing.
To keep its occupants safe the Camry features Toyota Safety Sense as standard - a package of active safety features and driver aids designed to keep you out of trouble. It includes a Pre-Collision system with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beam and road sign assist as well as blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert with brake assist.
Masato Katsumata, Camry chief engineer, is rightly proud of the car's class-leading quietness and ride quality and his enthusiasm and attention to detail has produced a sedan that will continue to dominate world sales charts if not European ones.