Toyota C-HR is a true standout in both Toyota’s range and the SUV segment
What is it?
The small SUV segment is a relatively new, but tough one. As such, Toyota has pulled out at all stops to snag its own chunk of the market. The C-HR is powered by an all-new 1.2 litre turbo charged engine, a class crushing amount of standard equipment, excellent build quality and wild styling (and not just by Toyota’s standards) inside and out.
What’s it cost?
The Toyota C-HR range is relatively simple. There’s the base C-HR and the more stylish and generously equipped C-HR Koba. All are powered by the aforementioned 1.2 litre engine, which is mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-step continuously variable transmission (CVT); power is sent to the front or all four-wheels.
The range kicks off with the C-HR front-wheel drive manual which is priced from $26,990 and stretches all the way to the Koba CVT all-wheel drive which has a sticker price of $35,290.
We tested the C-HR CVT front-wheel drive, which has a recommended retail price of $28,990.
A high level of standard equipment is one of the C-HR’s key party tricks. The amount of stuff you get for under $30k is pretty damn incredible. There’s blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, a heap of airbags – including a driver’s knee airbag – and heaps more.
What’s it go like?
Not bad. The 1.2 litre turbo engine chucks out 85kW @ 5600rpm and 185Nm @ 1500-4000rpm. Not the sort of power and torque that’ll ruin your face with g-forces, but the C-HR gets along confidently enough.
Rolling acceleration is more than adequate thanks to that broad power band, and the engine is refined and relatively quiet. The CVT keeps it on the boil too, even though we would’ve preferred a conventional auto. Interestingly for a car targeted a younger customers, flappy paddles aren’t available. They’re by no means mandatory, but it’d add to the driving experience.
Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres, however we found 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres to be closer to the mark. It is worth noting that the engine has an appetite for more expensive premium unleaded petrol too.
Handling is decent. The C-HR turns in well, giving reasonable feedback through the steering wheel. Body roll is kept in check and ride quality is plush without feeling flaccid and giving you a nasty case of car sickness.
What we like:
- It dares to be different and adds some much needed “wow!” factor to the Toyota range – minus the lovely 86. Toyota has spent a great deal of time and money ensuring that the everywhere you look in the C-HR you’ll notice a new design detail. There’s a pattern on the roof lining that matches the three-dimensional diamond pattern on the door cards, and the “C-HR” motif is projected from the wing mirrors at night.
- The interior is an ergonomic delight. All the main controls are angled towards the driver and the driver can reach for pretty much anything without taking their eyes off the road. There’s voice control fitted as standard, too.
- The amount of standard toys. Behind the driver’s seat, the base C-HR hardly feels “poverty pack.” Actually, it feels more expensive than its sub-30k price suggests. And that’s a good thing. All the switchgear is bespoke, and all interior materials of a high calibre, adding to the premium feeling.
- The seats are soft, comfortable and supportive, making the C-HR the ideal companion on road trips.
- The driving experience. The C-HR feels more like a jacked-up hatchback rather than a lumbering SUV.
What we don’t:
- Rear visibility isn’t that great. But it does have a reversing camera as standard
- The boot has a large surface area, but a low luggage cover means that you are quite limited as to what you can carry
- Adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning don’t work below 50km/h. Why? A company like Toyota has enough money, resources and engineering nous to make sure this stuff works properly. So they should.
- Lane departure warning is a little oversensitive
- Wheels on base models look low-rent
Sale or no sale?
Yes! Buy one if you’re feeling bold. We haven’t been this excited about a Toyota since the 86 was launched. And if the C-HR is an indicator of how future Toyotas will look, drive and feel, Toyotas may actually become coveted and desirable. Maybe.