It’s strange for a car brand as enormous as Toyota to be missing from a popular vehicle segment, yet up until now that was the case with compact SUVs. The new Toyota C-HR not only fills that gap but showcases a surprisingly daring step for Toyota design.
WHAT STANDS OUT
It’s impossible to go past the styling as a first talking point. After decades of predominantly safe and inoffensive car designs, the C-HR’s creased and twisting bodywork is a real surprise. Its adventurous shape is complemented by an equally un-Toyota-like colour palette including hues such as Hornet Yellow, Electric Teal and Tidal Blue.
A black or white roof colour is available if you choose the higher-spec Koba variant.
The starting price for the C-HR is higher than natural rivals like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HRV and Mitsubishi ASX, yet none of those offer a standard equipment list longer than the Toyota’s.
Convenience and comfort features include active cruise control, navigation, auto high beam, front and rear sensors with rear-view camera, colour touchscreen and 17-inch alloy wheels.
A raft of driving aids encompasses autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, and warning systems to help avoid unintentional lane changes and warn of incoming traffic when reversing out into traffic.
The C-HR’s interior is also relatively radical in the Toyota world. A touchscreen sits up high on the dashboard, and these angled climate control buttons are an example of good ergonomics. The quality of cabin materials feels higher than the class average.
You’ll also find more cabin space than in a Toyota Corolla, thanks to a longer distance between the front and rear wheels.
Vision, however, is limited for rear passengers, especially young children. The compact boot is larger than a CX-3s, but still needs careful consideration for family buyers, though its rear seats do split-fold for a bigger cargo space
Opt for the Koba model grade, and you swap sporty fabric seats for leather-accents and heating. You also gain electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, blue ambient lighting, window tint, keyless entry and ignition, and a more advanced climate control system featuring an air-purifying filter.
Both C-HR model variants are powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 85kW and 185Nm. It’s a refined and willing engine, and though it’s not the quickest off the line, it’s quiet and fit for purpose.
Only the base model comes with a manual gearbox, and has the option of a CVT auto that’s standard on the Koba variant. For the extra cost of $2000, buyers can also upgrade the C-HR from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive.
Both models offer excellent ride comfort, enjoyable handling and impressive noise refinement, so it’s essentially a case of how many features you would like as to which variant is best.
The C-HR may have been a long time coming, but its numerous positive surprises have made it worth the wait, and if your budget allows for it, the well-specced C-HR and its refreshing styling might make you rethink buying that Corolla.