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Camry our first green car

That's the showroom tag for the Toyota Camry hybrid, which finally hits the road today.  The hybrid is being pitched as the flagship in the Camry range, from the way it looks to a cabin that is claimed to set a new standard for quietness in a locally-made car.

The hybrid bottom line is fuel economy of 6 litres/100km, with performance that trims a full second from the petrol-powered Camry's 0-100km/h time.  The $36,990 pricetag compares to $29,990 for a basic Camry Altise, or $39,990 for a Prius hybrid.

The basic details of the Camry hybrid have been public since the car was introduced in 2006 in the USA, but there has been a lot of work on 'Australianising' the car, both for production and driving.  "Right from day one we knew that the American version wasn't going to work," says Phil King, who headed local chassis tuning work.

The result is a car which is more responsive, as well as packing a full suite of safety gear.  The Camry hybrid picks up the vast majority of its mechanical package from the third-generation Prius, which went on sale last year, although it has a 2.4-litre engine (up from 1.8) and still has a drive belt for the water pump, unlike the Prius.

Full details of the pricing, equipment and sales plan will be revealed later today. But Toyota Australia is already trumpeting six airbags, ESP stability control, active steering assistance and a special power cut-off.  But the boot has taken a hit to fit the onboard battery system.

"This hybrid can walk, and chew gum," says Peter Evans, technical chief for Toyota's imported cars.  More details later, together with a first driving impression.