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Driven: Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.

Driven: Toyota C-HR
Does more time in the edgy Toyota crossover convince us that our launch love for it was genuine?

 



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Toyota C-HR

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: easily one of the best things Toyota has built in recent memory, with a great cabin, striking looks, a sweet chassis and a lovely little turbocharged motor

Not so good: limited range, could do with more power, can get pricey, avoid the Hybrid model...

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota C-HR 1.2 Dynamic manual
Price: C-HR starts from 21,880; 1.2 Dynamic from 26,375; car as tested 28,240
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door SUV
CO2 emissions: 136g/km (VED Band 131-150: 205 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 55.4mpg
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Power: 116hp at 5,200-5,600rpm
Torque: 185Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm
Boot space: 377-1,160 litres

Our view:

We were very much looking forward to our first chance to get to grips with Toyota's adorable C-HR crossover again, especially after we first drove it at the international launch towards the tail end of 2016. We loved the boldness and the brilliant execution of the Coupe High-Rider on first appraisal, and we wondered if buyers in the UK would take to its extravagant exterior.

Well, driving around on our roads during the best part of two years, it's clear that, so far, the C-HR has been a huge hit with British punters. They're everywhere; Hybrids, mainly, to our chagrin, but it's still great to see that the gamble from Toyota seems to have paid off. And we're still just a little bit in love with it too, mainly for what it represents in terms of Toyota's timely turnaround from being a boring manufacturer to an exciting one. However, it's abundantly clear that the 1.2-litre petrol is by far the better model. Now that we've done 390 miles in the C-HR 1.2 Dynamic - a top-spec car with almost all the toys fitted, but still the right side of 30 grand to feel worth such cash - we're convinced that the unrefined and raucous drivetrain of the Hybrid model utterly spoils what it otherwise one of the best C-segment SUVs going.

Its chief appeal revolves around those looks, of course, as it competes in a class full of what are largely just variations on a soap-bar theme, but the Toyota's avantgarde appearance isn't going to win universal appeal. The interior should, though, because it's excellent - really nicely styled, with that clever 'diamond' motif running through everything you look at and touch, and yet still practical, comfortable and reasonably spacious. Yes, the upswept lines of the rear doors make the rear bench a darker environment than it probably should be, but it's not actually cramped in there. It's very accommodating, for anyone up to six foot in height.

Yet it's the way the C-HR drives which delights. It has a wonderful, playful chassis, that's lively without being too intense (a crossover doesn't need to drive as sharply as a hot hatch) and which is matched to a lovely suite of major controls that allow you to exploit its sparkling handling to the maximum - the steering is excellent, the gearbox is excellent, the throttle is excellent, the brakes are... well, you get the idea. That 1.2-litre engine might not have the strongest stats in the world but it's so, so sweet, smooth when revving and keen to spin out to its redline, in a manner small-capacity, forced-induction motors are not typically wont to do. There's ample torque low down the rev range, thanks to the turbocharger, and if you do work the C-HR hard it's decently brisk, so this is just about as little power as you want to try getting away with in a vehicle that's 1,320kg.

The ride and refinement are both superb too, which would mean driving the C-HR long distances would be no hardship at all - were it not for a weird discrepancy with the fuel range. Toyota says the 1.2-litre C-HR is fitted with a 50-litre fuel tank, which is pretty much 11 gallons. We saw an overall 43.5mpg during our week with the crossover and around 47mpg on a long, steady run down to Suffolk, along the A1, A14 and A12, and going on our first return figure we should have been able to get 478 miles out of the C-HR's tank. Yet we didn't get anywhere close to completing the 390 miles we eventually covered, mainly because the fuel gauge seemed to be almost constantly moving downwards. Either our C-HR had a fuel leak or the trip computer was being optimistic about the real-world mpg...

Aside from that, and occasionally wishing the last two digits in the 1.2's power output had been transposed - most of the C-HR's key rivals enjoy more like 130-150hp, with some even boasting 190hp and more, and while speed is not everything, you do sometimes crave more than a modest 116hp to make the most of the Toyota's magnificent chassis - this was a week which confirmed the C-HR crossover as one of the best machines in its highly competitive class. It does everything Toyota must have set out to ensure it would achieve: it's easy to use, comfortable and serene when you need it to be; the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform blesses it with some of the best handling and dynamics in any crossover, never mind just the C-segment; and in the eyes of the general public, it reinvigorates the company's previously staid image.

The message is simple, then - avoid the weighty and severely compromised Hybrid model, and what you have in the Toyota C-HR is an incredibly talented, deeply likeable family run-around. Now all we need is a similarly well-executed C-HR GRMN version and we'll be looking at a genuine, five-star Toyota.

Alternatives:

Peugeot 3008: still our favourite in this segment. The Toyota is ace but the 3008 just has the crucial edge on the Japanese machine in every department save for exterior looks - and many people will prefer the Pug's bodywork anyway.

SEAT Ateca: was briefly the market leader in this segment but then the pesky Pug came along. Ateca is sharply styled, as more traditional crossover-SUVs go, but it's nothing like as daring as the C-HR - it's more practical and has better engines, though.

Volkswagen T-Roc: Volkswagen's attempt at the rakish crossover formula is pretty good, actually, feeling genuinely youthful, rather than coming across as mutton dressed up as lamb. Great engines and quality cabin, but we actually prefer the Ateca to the T-Roc. Sorry, VW.


Matt Robinson - 28 Aug 2018









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2018 Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota C-HR. Image by Toyota.

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