Review: Toyota C-HR

The Toyota C-HR is an interesting, refreshing and solid addition to the crossover segment. With futuristic head-turning looks, hybrid drive and no diesel option, it really is a car for the image conscious.

Some call this car overdesigned. Some think it looks subtly futuristic. All we know is it turns a lot of heads when you drive by in it.

While Toyota certainly have some bragging rights having cornered the small SUV market with the original RAV4 way back when, it took them a bit longer to catch up to the rest of the world in launching a compact crossover. Now that it’s here, how does the C-HR hold up?

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For the driver, the refinement on offer really is fantastic and the quality of the cabin jumps out at you.

The abbreviated Coupe High Rider is exactly that and a fine way in which the Japanese manufacturer has looked to differentiate itself from others in the overcrowded market. Its swooping roofline, rear three-quarter and hidden door handles in the rear window frames all help to drive home the coupe-esque looks of the model – meaning you can go elsewhere if you want an imposter-SUV-looking car – a style move which we thoroughly applaud.

Step inside and it’s equally coupe-esque. With style rather than space the name of the game, as with any other coupe, the C-HR is vaguely reminiscent of the much larger BMW X6 in its offering. It has the high ride-height lessees want from a crossover (albeit lower than rivals) while headroom is somewhat limited in the front and verging on claustrophobic in the back thanks to the high window-line of the rear doors.

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This heavily styled rear end also makes it hard to see what’s behind you when reversing. Toyota know this though, and that’s why a reversing camera comes as standard across each model. Phew.

For the driver, the refinement on offer really is fantastic and the quality of the cabin jumps out at you. The wraparound dashboard means everything is easily within reach, soft touch plastics are used throughout, while gloss black inserts which glitter in the sunlight add a nice touch of class.

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Climate control, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror and seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system all come as standard meaning it’s a very enticing offering. Jumping up a spec from the basic Icon to Excel adds sat-nav, keyless entry, heated seats and power fold mirrors, while Dynamic goes a step further by adding LED headlamps and metallic paint.

What initially prompted us into reviewing the Toyota C-HR was not only how cool it looks but the fact that it has been gaining momentum in regard to leasing enquiries

Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system, comes with your standard Bluetooth phone function, DAB radio and the like, and upgrading to Excel or Dynamic means you’ll also benefit from a sat-nav that offers live traffic updates. While the screen position on the dash is fine, the interface is rather cumbersome and it isn’t the most user-friendly system you’ll come across these days.

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A lot has been made about the C-HR sitting on the same platform and being powered by the same 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor as its Prius stablemate

But which drivetrain do you want? With nary a diesel model in sight, your choice is limited to either a 113bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol or a 122bhp 1.8 petrol-electric hybrid.

What initially prompted us into reviewing the Toyota C-HR was not only how cool it looks but the fact that it has been gaining momentum in regard to leasing enquiries – especially the hybrid version in light of the recent VED changes.

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While a lot has been made about the C-HR sitting on the same platform and being powered by the same 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor as its Prius stablemate, the fact that the C-HR is bigger and heavier does cause issues.

Where the hybrid does shine however is in its credentials. The electric motors are smaller yet deliver a stronger power to weight ratio than any other manufacturer

The hybrid takes longer to get up to speed than the petrol, while acceleration of any kind – be it gentle or heavy – results in the revs rising harshly and staying there while the engine screams until you’re up to the speed you need. It is rather unpleasant and is all down to the automatic gearbox. At crawling and low speeds however the hybrid model is a pleasure, and the electric motor can power you along up to speeds of 15mph.

On the flipside to this, the 1.2 petrol is comparatively refined and revs smoothly and while it has less power than the Hybrid the lack of an electric motor means it weighs less, so is paradoxically faster.

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Weight further muddies the water between drivers trying to be green and getting the most refined option available. On 18 inch wheels the 1.2-litre petrol rides well with no body bounce along uneven roads, handling the pockmarked tarmac around town just as smoothly, whereas the additional weight of the hybrid means the suspension has a harder job to do on the very same alloys and it all feels rather unsettled.

It retains decent handling, accurate steering and a good level of comfort all thanks to the fact that the C-HR was developed solely with European drivers in mind.

Where the hybrid does shine however is in its credentials. The electric motors are smaller yet deliver a stronger power to weight ratio than any other manufacturer. On top of this the combined power output of the system is 120bhp, meaning you’ll struggle to find a better hybrid on the market.

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MPG is also another feather in its cap, with the stated combined MPG listed by Toyota as 72.4, with ours coming around in the 60s thanks to a lot of town driving in stop-star traffic and a couple of long motorway trips.

No matter which engine is right for you, it retains decent handling, accurate steering and a good level of comfort all thanks to the fact that the C-HR was developed solely with European drivers in mind – this means it’s able to cope with the unique demands our twisty, tight and bumpy roads and is remarkably agile for something marketed in the compact crossover segment.

All in all, the Toyota C-HR is an interesting, refreshing and solid addition to the leasing market. It brings a unique look and appeal to a segment that is all starting to look a bit like attack of the clones, and while there are trade-offs no matter which drivetrain you opt for the level of kit on offer in its most basic guise and general refinement means you can do a lot worse.

Models tested:

Toyota C-HR Excel 1.2 CVT

Price:£25,265
Top speed:114 mph
0-62mph:11.1 seconds
Official fuel economy:47.9 mpg
CO2 emissions:135 g/km
Car tax band:£200 (1st year)
£140 standard
Insurance group:15
Engine:1197 cc
Luggage space:

377 rear seats up

Toyota C-HR Excel 1.8 Hybrid CVT

Price:£26,585
Top speed:105 mph
0-62mph:11 secs
Official fuel economy:72.4 mpg
CO2 emissions:87 g/km
Car tax band:£90 (1st year)
£130 standard
Insurance group:14
Engine:1798 cc
Luggage space:

255 rear seats up
1010 rear seats down

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