Fu­tur­is­tic take from mild Toy­ota

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

The Toy­ota C-HR an­swers the crit­ics who say the Ja­panese gi­ant makes noth­ing but bor­ingly sen­si­ble ve­hi­cles.

Akio Toy­oda, head of the au­to­mo­tive com­pany started by his grand­fa­ther, is­sued or­ders to his stylists, and you see the re­sult here.

The Toy­ota C-HR is like noth­ing else we have seen be­fore, with sharp di­ag­o­nal lines in­side and out, stand­out wheel-arches, and a rear so com­plex it ini­tially con­fuses the mind.

Even bet­ter, the C-HR is of­fered in in­ter­est­ing colours to cut the 500 shades of grey haunt­ing our roads these days. Red, or­ange, blue, and even two-tone schemes let own­ers make a real state­ment.

The C-HR fills a long­stand­ing gap in the com­pany’s line-up.

Though Toy­ota is ex­tremely strong in every other area of the Aus­tralian four-wheel-drive and SUV mar­ket, a small-medium con­tender was miss­ing.

The de­lay was ex­plained by Toy­ota C-HR chief en­gi­neer, Hiroyuki Koba, who flew down to in­tro­duce us to his new car.

Toy­ota had in­tended to in­tro­duce the C-HR sev­eral years back and work be­gan in 2010. But part way through the de­sign, things were halted to make it part of an all-new light­weight plat­form.

It was a smart de­ci­sion be­cause the light, strong body feels re­ally taut and pre­cise on the road. Power for the C-HR comes from a new four-cylin­der turbo-petrol engine dis­plac­ing 1.2 litres.

It pro­duces torque of 185Nm, start­ing from a low 1500rpm and run­ning up to 4000 rpm, so most driv­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence top torque vir­tu­ally all the time.

Peak power is just 85kW but it’s torque that talks and dur­ing our drive pro­gram, we were most impressed by it. It pulls strongly from low revs with min­i­mal turbo lag be­cause of its small ca­pac­ity.

Most buy­ers are likely to opt for the CVT au­to­matic (with seven pre­tend gears for pseudo-man­ual op­er­a­tion), which is a shame be­cause we spent a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres in a C-HR with a six-speed man­ual gear­box. This is a de­light­ful unit with well-cho­sen ra­tios and a slick ac­tion.

If you are feeling lazy you don’t even have to rev match the gearchanges in the man­ual — the car will do it for you. But if you don’t like that and want to take full re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gear­box, you can switch that fea­ture off.

Mr Koba is a com­pe­tent week­end car racer, and has to­tal un­der­stand­ing of what “real” driv­ers want from their cars.

Han­dling is ex­cel­lent, with the C-HR step­ping in to max­imise road grip by sens­ing what each wheel is do­ing.

This is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­mon in high-per­for­mance sports cars, even in Grand Prix cars, and it is in­ter­est­ing to see it mak­ing its way down to ma­chines such as this sporty Toy­ota SUV/ hatch/coupe — what­ever you want to call it.

An advantage of elec­tron­ics in the sus­pen­sion is that ride com­fort is main­tained. The Toy­ota cov­ered fairly rough stages of dirt road dur­ing our drive day and shrugged off the sur­faces with ease.

There is good in­te­rior room for four adults, with the back seats pro­vid­ing sur­pris­ingly good head and legroom. How­ever, the swoop­down roof means the back seats are set pretty low and are as com­fort­able as you might ex­pect.

The com­bi­na­tion of low-set seats and a very high waist­line will cause prob­lems with the view out for chil­dren in the back.

Did you spot the rear door han­dles in our pho­tos? They’re up there near the roof. Toy­ota C-HR is now on sale at all Toy­ota deal­ers. It is priced from a rec­om­mended re­tail of $26,990 for the six-speed man­ual front-wheeldrive C-HR. An­other $2000 is added for the au­to­matic, and a fur­ther $2000 for the all-wheel drive.

The top-line C-HR, named the Koba in hon­our of the chief en­gi­neer, has 18-inch al­loys, leather­ac­cented seats, key­less en­try and start, LED lamps front and rear, and a clever na­noe sys­tem that mois­turises cabin air. The C-HR Koba is priced at $35,290.

The space-age in­te­rior of the C-HR.

Toy­ota has taken a quan­tum leap in styling with the new C-HR.

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