Futuristic take from mild Toyota
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.
Toyota has taken a quantum leap in styling with the new C-HR.