Test Drive by Graham Breeze
You might not have seen the new Toyota C-HR on the road yet but expect to be craning your neck for a better look when you do.
Because Toyota’s first foray into the popular small SUV sector comes with real attitude thanks to rakish styling and raised suspension.
It’s a brave move for Toyota, a company previously not known for attracting sales with eye-catching designs, but the Japanese firm has been teasing the public at motor shows across the world with concept ideas for a couple of year now.
The C-HR is exactly what it says on the tin – a Coupe High-Rider – designed to stand-out in the highly competitive crossover market. It’s designed specifically to attract buyers who want individuality and seek to be the first to try new products.
A low roofline gives the Toyota the rakish appeal of a coupe and eye-catching creases and curves are a delight to see. And I’m a particular fan of rear door handles which are hidden in the C-Pillars. Great looking alloys and distinctive LED running lamps are the icing on the cake.
But it’s not just looks that make this Toyota stand-out from the crowd, because C-HR introduces full hybrid powertrain to the segment for the first time and has already picked up awards from “Next Green Car.”
At launch there’s a choice of two engines, a 1.8 litre hybrid which debuted last year in the fourth generation Prius and a 1.2 litre version that comes in either two or four-wheel drive.
Toyota expects the hybrid to account for 75 per cent of sales but you won’t go far wrong with the 1197cc Excel CVT with all-wheel drive which was on test. Not if you want a top speed of 111mph, 0-62mph in 11.4secondsand combined fuel consumption figures of 44.8mpg. Figures for the hybrid are from 86g/km of C02 and 74.3mpg.
Bright dashboard inserts are another brave development form Toyota and the cabin really is a great place to be with plenty of quality soft-touch plastic and a quality feel. But while it’s a good place for front seat occupants, big C-pillars do give a claustrophobic feel for those in the back.
There’s been no scrimping on kit. The test car came with a multi-information display, electric parking brake, power windows, park assist, front and rear parking sensors, smart entry and push-button start, rains-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlights.
The Toyota Touch-To-Go system is fitted, including an 8inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, on-line connectivity, Bluetooth, and rear-view camera. There’s dual-zone air conditioning, remote central locking, an alarm, part-leather upholstery, 60-40 split folding seats, heated front seats, and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.
And if safety is high on your list of demands you won’t go far wrong with the C-HR. All mofels are fitted with Toyota Safety Sense, a pre-collision system complete with wave radar to detect pedestrians as well as vehicles on the road ahead.
There’s all-round airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, traction control, vehicle stability control. Hill start, tyre pressure warning, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
All versions come with a choice of Sport, Normal and Eco which alter the weight of the steering and throttle response to suit individual driving needs and road conditions.
You would have to part with £26,495 for the Excel 1.2 CVT AWD on test and another £2,000 to add metallic paint and the premium pack which is on track with main rivals such as Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca.
Only time will tell if Toyota’s bold attempt to challenge this seriously competitive small SUV sector will be a success – but you can’t really fault this brave offering.