The new Toyota Camry has finally gone on sale in Japan, sporting a bold new look and a next-generation hybrid powertrain. This time, the car sold in the Land of the Rising Sun takes after the US-market model, instead of our more chrome-laden version sold there in the previous generation.

Unlike in the United States, the Japanese-market model is only available as a hybrid and with a more conservative “luxury” design, rather than the sportier version also offered in America. It’s still a daring look, however, with the “Keen Look” front end dominated by the extra-wide lower grille, while bi-LED headlights flank the slim upper grille that emphasises the three-dimensional Toyota badge.

Meanwhile, the lowered bonnet, fenders and beltline gives the impression of a lower centre of gravity, and strong haunches above the wheels emphasise the car’s stance. The glasshouse has also been pushed rearward to provide a more spacious interior, as well as to provide more dynamic exterior proportions. Broad LED tail lights complete the look.

Only a couple of changes can be seen in the transition from the North American market, with the Japanese-market model gaining front fog lights and losing the amber front and red rear side marker lamps. Inside, the bold cockpit look has been retained, complete with a character line that bisects the centre console, along with a flush finish for the centre console and the navigation and climate controls.

Toyota claims that with the lower bonnet, cowl and beltline, improves outward visibility and provides for a sporty, yet spacious interior. The navigation screen, colour head-up display and multi-information display are all integrated to present information in an optimised manner, allowing the driver to focus on, well, driving.

Under the skin, the new Camry rides on the same modular Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that underpins the latest Prius. The platform provides optimal weight balance and a lower centre of gravity, which the company claims improves handling response and high-speed stability.

The body uses a ring-shaped frame and has been put together using state-of-the-art laser screw welding and structural body adhesives to increase rigidity. Ultra-high-tensile hot-stamped steel has also been used extensively throughout to reduce weight while improving crash safety.

Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear, and a parallel rack electric power steering that enhances response; the steering column has also been revised for improved rigidity and steering ability. All four engine mounts are hydraulic – a Toyota first – and have been placed optimally to minimise noise and vibration.

Power comes from a new Dynamic Force engine – an A25A-FXS 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol mill with D-4S direct-injection, pushing out 178 PS at 5,700 rpm and 221 Nm from 3,600 to 5,200 rpm. Mated to this is a 120 PS/202 Nm electric motor to produce a total system output of 211 PS. Fuel consumption is rated at 33.4 km per litre on the Japanese JC08 cycle.

Last but not least, all models come with Toyota Safety Sense P, which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, lane departure warning with steering control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and intelligent clearance sonar to protect against pedal misapplication. The Camry is also the first Toyota to come with Rear Cross Traffic Auto Brake.

Pricing starts at 3,294,000 yen (RM123,900) for the base X variant, rising up to 3,499,200 yen (RM131,600) for the G. The range-topping G Leather Package, which apart from the obvious also throws in larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display and a T-Connect navigation system, is priced at 4,195,800 yen (RM157,800).