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Toyota C-HR joins the crossover party

24.11.2016

I'm in Spain, more specifically its capital Madrid. It's an amazing city, full of stunning old buildings, historic architecture and rich with heritage. There is however a vast uprising of modern buildings and a new technological wave of improvement rushing over the city. This then makes it the perfect setting for Toyota to introduce its all-new C-HR, a car it claims rates as one of its most important yet.

What is it?

C-HR stands for Coupe High Rider and it is Toyota's answer to the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3 and others in the compact crossover segment. It is also a segment that Toyota has ignored for quite some time, so has the wait been worth it?

The looks

From a styling point of view, the C-HR definitely grabs the attention of just about everyone that glances at it. Driving around the city, it's clear to see how people actually stop and look at the car, albeit with look of confusion on their faces. Confused because having such a stylish body wear a Toyota badge is a bit out of the ordinary. 

The C-HR looks striking from just about every angle. It features many, prominent character lines, strong features and distinctive styling elements which all blend together to create a modern, aggressive yet unique looking vehicle. The front end is rounded and the face of the car is unmistakable. LED day-time running lights resemble that found on the new RAV4. Yet it is the side profile with its coupe-like design, flared wheel arches and hidden rear door handles which gives this car a styling advantage over its competitors.

At the rear, I particularly like the steeply raked window and the massive roof spoiler. I did find that there is a slight resemblance to Honda Civic with regards to the tail lights. I really thought that the design would be too cluttered, to busy but it's not. Every element compliments the other, it is sporty and even attractive at the same time. 

Interior experience 

The interior has been designed around the philosophy of what Toyota calls Sensual Tech. This new design combines high-tech functionality with a fashionable style. It embodies a driver focused area within an airy, expansive cabin space. The dashboard is split by a stylish detailing line which on higher spec models is finished in blue with gloss black inserts, which compliment this feature. 

The overall feel of the interior is of quality with very little buttons which reduces confusion and clutter. Just about everything can be controlled from the large dashboard mounted screen. I also like the neatly designed multifunction steering wheel. 

Practical side

The C-HR is built on the same platform as the latest iteration of the Prius. Toyota's New Global Architecture platform (TNGA) utilises the brands new engineering approach, which sees the engine positioned lower in the bay, giving a better centre of gravity, better body rigidity and lower overall vehicle height. This frees up space inside too. Rear passengers won't feel cramped and the boot space is decent. 

Engines 

At the international launch, I got the opportunity to sample two new engines, the first being a 1.2-litre turbo turbo with 85kW/185Nm that consumes unleaded at  a claimed 5.5 litres/100 km. This motor comes with either a six-speed manual with rev matching technology or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).  Internationally, customers will have a choice of either front or all-wheel drive, but South Africa will be limited to the former.

There is also a 90kW 1.8-litre hybrid that is claimed to use just 3.6 litres/100 km but that's not heading to our market just yet. 

The drive

Out on the rather narrow Spanish country roads, the C-HR really does benefit from its hatchback inspired DNA as it is really fun to drive. Performance is not mind blowing however the little turbo motor is eager. As for ride and handling, Toyota engineers spent many months in Europe studying how drivers behave and finding out just what exactly they want from a car. Much attention was then given to the steering and suspension aspects of the car which result in a sharp and engaging drive. 

Verdict 

After spending two days in Spain with the Toyota C-HR, I am excited to see how it will be received by the South African public. Word is that dealerships already have a waiting list for this car.

As is the norm and due to pricing, our cars will differ from these that I have driven regarding specification and trim levels. We will have to wait until March next year to find out exactly what we will be getting. Until then, you can start saving your money because you will probably need between R320 000 and about R350 000 if you want one. 

Article written by Justin Jacobs
24.11.2016
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