TOYOTA has a sports car history going back almost 50 years but the Celica was cut six years ago it was left without a sporting flagship.
The brand that gave us the superb Supra, the 2000 GT and the lovely MR2 roadster was left with a collection of worthy family cars that focused on being practical.
That has all changed with the arrival of the fantastic all-new GT86 Coupe.
The GT86 brings passion back to Toyota and injects some excitement back into the brand.
It boasts an almost perfect recipe for an affordable sports machine with the slant on driver involvement and fun.
And when it comes to looks and performance the GT86 delivers the goods.
It looks great with its sculpted roof, chunky rear, handsome nose and flared sides which also feature fins. Add the rear spoiler and other drivers are left in no doubt that they are looking at a sports car.
Toyota has concentrated on handling and enjoyment rather than on sheer power for the GT86 and the result is brilliant.
The GT is great to drive and copes surprisingly well with rough surfaces and bumps even though the suspension is obviously designed for sharp handling and therefore on the firm side.
The body is rigid and the suspension and damping allow for fabulous control and the grip is excellent.
The rear-drive chassis gives the balance that you simply do not get from front or four-wheel-drive and the GT86 changes direction like a cat.
The steering provides plenty feel and you know exactly what the car is going to do at any time.
Under the bonnet the flat-four engine developed with Subaru produces 197bhp and you will enjoy the noise when you push it along.
To get the best from this engine you have to be over 5,000 revs and it enjoys being pushed to the limit.
In manual form the GT will get to 140mph and sprint to 62mph in 7.6 seconds. Quick enough for most people but I don't think we will have to wait for long before a more powerful version comes along and this car will certainly cope with it.
I sampled the automatic version which is available for an extra £1,500. It features wheel-mounted paddle shifts and it works very well.
It is slower to 62mph taking 8.4 seconds and the top speed also falls to 130mph but it is more economical.
The manual version claims a combined figure of 32.8mpg while this rises to 36.2 for the automatic.
A sports car should always feel snug and the GT certainly is. It is billed as a 2+2 but the rear seats are only suitable for small children. Much better to think of them as extra luggage space as the boot is not huge at just 243 litres.
A large rev counter dominates the dash display which is very traditional and slightly dated. The materials are fine but do not feel as expensive as some of the opposition but then this car does not cost as much as most of its rivals.
On the safety front the Toyota has two-stage stability control and a limited slip differential as standard and you also get seven airbags and LED running lights.
Plenty creature comforts are standard including cruise control and dual zone air conditioning along with a digital speed readout on the rev counter.
The test car also boasted satnav with USB connection and Bluetooth costing £750 and heated black leather and alcantara sports seats costing £1,600. Along with the automatic gearbox option that took its final price to £29,295.
The entry level version starts at £24,995, which in my opinion is great value for money. Like all other Toyota models it boasts a five-year 100,000 miles warranty.
I think the GT86 is a great car and makes you enjoy every mile you drive and you can't ask for more than that.
Toyota may have been out of the sports car sector for some time but they are certainly back with a bang and this is a car that will put a smile on your face.
Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Combined mpg: 36.2
Insurance group: TBA
CO2 emissions: 181g/km
BIK rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 100,000 miles