Flag­ship’s no rocket

The Advertiser - Motoring - - SHORT CUT -

TOY­OTA joined the boom­ing baby SUV class at last with its C-HR (“com­pact high rider”, if you must know). We’ve al­ready tested the most af­ford­able model — here’s how the $40,000 flag­ship stacks up.


The C-HR front-drive man­ual starts from about $31,000 drive­away ($5000-$9000 dearer than its peers). This top-of-therange Koba AWD is $39,930 drive-away, a power of money for a car no big­ger than a Corolla. The price has crept up since launch be­cause de­mand has out­stripped sup­ply. Toy­ota is get­ting only 6000 ex­am­ples this year and could eas­ily sell twice as many. Toy­ota has ex­tended the ser­vice intervals from six months/10,000km to 12 months/15,000km and locked in the price at $195 for each of the first five vis­its. The warranty is three years/100,000km.


It could al­most be a Lexus in­side, such is the step up in qual­ity from other Toy­otas. The cabin ma­te­ri­als look mod­ern and feel great, from the checked pat­terns on the doors, to the faux leather ac­cents on the dash, to the real leather on the seats (though I’m not a fan of the brown high­lights). There is plenty of room front and back — but the ta­per­ing roofline and win­dows limit out­ward vi­sion for rear pas­sen­gers. There is only one USB port and one 12V out­let. It needs at least two of each (and fast-charg­ing USBs too). It would help if the door lock switch au­to­mat­i­cally il­lu­mi­nated at night when you open the door, rather than wait for the en­gine or head­lights to come on. With po­lice urg­ing driv­ers to lock doors, it would be handy to be able to see the switch at night be­fore some­one ap­pears from the shad­ows.


Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes seven airbags and sev­eral class firsts such as au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, radar cruise con­trol, lane keep­ing and blind zone warn­ing. A rear cam­era and front and rear sen­sors round out the pack­age. It earned five stars from ANCAP un­der re­cent more strin­gent reg­u­la­tions.


It may have “turbo” badges and fu­tur­is­tic styling but this is no rocket ship. The 1.2-litre four­cylin­der turbo is de­signed for econ­omy rather than per­for­mance, de­spite de­mand­ing pre­mium un­leaded. Around town it’s zippy enough but it starts to feel lethar­gic on long hills at free­way speeds. More im­pres­sive is the way it hugs the road, with pre­cise steer­ing and con­fi­dent cor­ner­ing grip, whether on round­abouts or wind­ing coun­try roads.


Suzuki Vi­tara Turbo This is roomier, zip­pier and about $8000 cheaper than the C-HR. Only down­side it’s not yet avail­able with radar cruise con­trol and AEB (as with most oth­ers in this seg­ment). Holden Trax Turbo It’s roomier and faster and (when Holden even­tu­ally comes back to earth) will be cheaper than the C-HR. And it’s fun to drive but looks cheap in­side and dated out­side. Mit­subishi ASX It doesn’t have a turbo but the 2.0-litre’s per­for­mance is com­pa­ra­ble to the other op­tions here. And it’ll be a bar­gain as soon as Mit­subishi re­turns to the $25,00 drive-away deal for an au­to­matic.


The C-HR has class-lead­ing tech­nol­ogy and drives bet­ter than most ri­vals. Ex­pect it to be a bet­ter buy in a year or so when sup­ply im­proves and the price gets trimmed. For now Toy­ota is mak­ing peo­ple pay over the odds for the lat­est gad­get in town.

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