Damien O’carroll reckons they forgot to tell the C-HR that Toyotas are supposed to be boring!
Toyotas are boring, right? Simple appliances that get you from A to B with minimal effort, fun or anything approaching style, excitement or outrageousness. Well, it seems someone forgot to tell the company’s latest small SUV that, because the C-HR is all about those last ones, particularly the outrageousness. As part of Toyota’s new, bolder styling push, the C-HR is a small SUV that hits the segment head-on with reckless abandon to conservative norms. On the outside, that is, because underneath that wild, polarising exterior is a conservative powertrain. Due to high global demand, Toyota is bringing the C-HR to New Zealand as one high-spec model, available in either 2WD or AWD form. The C-HR sits on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform and is the second car to be based on it, following the new Prius. Power comes in the form of a 1.2-litre fourcylinder petrol turbo engine 1that produces 85kw of power and 185Nm of torque. The engine is only available with a continuously variable transmissions and Toyota claim an average fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km and emissions of 149g/km of CO2 for the 2WD model and 6.5l/100km and 151g/km for the AWD model,. The C-HR comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, front fog lights and taillights, power folding heated door mirrors, a 6.1-inch touchscreen six-speaker audio system. satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate control, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with cruise and audio controls. In terms of active and passive safety and driver assist features, the C-HR is fully loaded including; seven airbags, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, trailer sway control, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, pre-crash safety systems, lane departure warning, steer assist and radar cruise control The C-HR is 30mm longer, 35mm wider and has a 40mm longer wheelbase than a Corolla, which makes it one of the larger entrants in a segment that includes Mitsubishi ASX, Holden Trax and the car that Toyota have targeted the C-HR at - the Honda HR-V. This approach also includes pricing, meaning the C-HR is at the high end of price in the segment, the FWD model lands at $37,990 and the AWD $39,990. But you do get quality for that and the interior of the C-HR is almost as wild as the exterior, with a modern and high quality feel. Comfortable seats and soft-touch materials make the C-HR’S interior a very pleasant place to spend time, but the audio head unit has all the appeal of a cheap after-market job when compared to the slick, integrated version overseas models get. On the road the C-HR has a pleasantly compliant ride, with subtle hints of a sporty firmness in just the right mix. It cruises at open road speeds with the composure of a vehicle several sizes larger and when turned into a corner, responds with impressive speed, accuracy and composure. It is something of a disappointment then that the engine and transmission can’t really deliver the dynamic experience that the chassis would seem to be capable of. While the engine is smooth, revvy and nicely eager, it lacks the punch necessary out on the open road, although around town it is perfectly sufficient. While Toyota may have upped its styling swagger and has the engine game nailed, it really does lag in the CVT department. Never a great transmission for keen drivers, other companies – particularly Subaru – have proven that a CVT can be a pleasant transmission, effectively eradicating flare and other CVT sins. While Toyota has made progress, its CVTS still take more from the engine than they add, meaning that, while the CVT is perfectly good around town, it leaves the C-HR at a bit of a loss on a winding, hilly road. But then, despite their membership of the broader “SUV” family, cars like the C-HR are destined - and designed for – purely urban environments, and it is here where the C-HR will be at its best. While it is one of the pricier options in the segment, it is extremely well built, comes loaded with standard equipment – and stands out from the crowd.