The 140bhp 1.8-litre newcomer was a direct replacement for the biggest-selling Celica, the 114bhp 1.8 ST. Not only was it more powerful, it was better specified for about the same price, lighter, faster, greener, better handling, more economical and cheaper to maintain. Crucially it also stacked up well against key rivals in the ú19,000 - ú22,000 bracket such as the Ford Cougar, Fiat Coupe and Honda Prelude Sport.
But we weren't alone in expressing some disappointment in the car's performance, especially since there had been a 173bhp 2.0-litre GT on offer with generation six and, for a while, a 200bhp-plus GT-4.
Toyota has responded to criticism of lack of punch with the 190 - virtually the same as the standard car cosmetically apart from red badging on the rear, but with the 1.8-litre four-cylinder VVT-i engine modified to produce another 50bhp.
Result: 0 - 62mph can be reached in 7.4 seconds (standard Celica is 8.7 secs) and the top speed is up to 140mph (127mph). The manufacturer claims the 190 is one of the most technically advanced road car engines produced and points out that with 106.7bhp per litre it joins the ton-up ranks of super performers like the McLaren F1 (103.3bhp/litre), BMW M3 (106bhp/litre) and Ferrari 360 Modena (111.5bhp/litre). Other similarities may be harder to find, but the biggest gulf is price: A Celica 190 can be put on the road for less than ú21,000.
Up to the end of November, Toyota had sold about 4,000 Celicas in the UK. The company expects the 190 version to account for 20% of its coupe sales in the next full year.