I recently drove the newcomer on local soil and realised that this car is more than just a Toyota crossover, it’s a shift in the way the company thinks in terms of design and engineering.
For a brand that has been known for its conservative offerings, the C-HR, which stands for Coupe High-Rider, simply does not conform to Toyota’s styling conventions. There is definitely something to be said about how bold the designers have been with the exterior looks. It is really very similar to the concept in terms of its actual form, although I’m sure Toyota's design team will tell you that it is very different.
Up front, there’s no mistaking the Toyota corporate face with references to the RAV4 and Prius, while in side profile, it looks positively alien with a swooping door line which drops towards the rear, creating a coupe-esque profile. The rear-end meanwhile droops so much that the door handles are located at the top of the door within the C-pillar. That wilting rear-end does mean that rear passenger space is not ideal, though not entirely unpleasant.
Looking at the car from the rear, the protruding light clusters and flared lower bumper gives it an impression of width, creating a sportier look. The word ‘fluid surfaces’ used by Toyota is one marketing term that actually encapsulates the overall design very well indeed.
The exterior is quite flamboyant to say the least, and while the interior is certainly not traditional Toyota, it is thankfully more restrained. The entire car is centred on a diamond shape theme, so expect diamond motifs around the cockpit.
Besides this, the rest of the interior is quite traditional with dark materials, glossy black plastics and cloth seats, all of which find favour over the more over-the-top interiors we’ve seen in crossovers previously. Build quality is solid with an upmarket feel to the switchgear and components. The general ergonomics are functional and all seem to draw you attention to the infotainment system which features USB, iPod, Bluetooth and CD/DVD compatibility.
I have to say, being a vehicle for millennials and being a millennial myself, I found the interior to be refreshingly simple compared to other cars whose cabs are too edgy in the pursuit of being modern, resulting in the final product becoming compromised in terms of functionality.
Let me start off by saying that I have now found a CVT gearbox that doesn’t entirely annoy me. You see, these gearboxes have been the bane of my motoring journalist existence with their frustrating drone. However, in the C-HR, the brand’s latest 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine works well with the CVT.
The little motor has a modest 85kW/185Nm on offer, yet there is minimal lag and good overtaking power with both the six-speed manual or CVT. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.3-litres/100km for the manual and 6.4-litres/100km for the CVT, however on our test route, that figure was closer to 8.0-litres/100km.
Driving impression and local spec
The combination of a peppy powertrain, a solid platform courtesy of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) and a well-tuned chassis makes the C-HR a fun car to drive. I was pleasantly surprised when driving our locally specified cars.
Speaking of spec, all models have 17-inch wheels, two airbags, ABS, USB port, traction and stability control, electric windows and cloth upholstery to name but a few. It’s safe to say that Toyota has come in with a more cost-effective line-up rather than offering the top-of-the range models we drove in Spain last year.
The C-HR is a step in the right direction for Toyota. As a brand with such popular products and already established customer base, I feel it is important for them to venture (pardon the archaic pun) into a new segment that appeals to more youthful buyers. The C-HR is certainly a car for this generation, it is refined, looks good, is built well, and has the right powertrain.
Just bear in mind that South Africa has been allocated just 150 of these a month, however, there is a stock pile within the country at the moment. So if you want one, best you order one as soon as you can.
C-HR 1.2T - R318 500
C-HR 1.2T Plus - R345 000
C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT - R356 000
Warranty and service plan
All C-HR's come with a five year/90 000 km service plan and a three year/100 000 km warranty as standard.