Toyota’s C-HR is a bit of a head-turner but it needs more than just good looks if it wants a piece of the crossover pie
Toyota’s C-HR – or Coupe-High Rider – is the firm’s attempt at grabbing a share of the burgeoning compact crossover market. Designed primarily for the European market it rides on Toyota’s new global architecture, which it shares with the Prius.
The styling is a combination of deep creases, sweeping curves and sharp angles.
The roofline is low, the rear windscreen steeply raked and, although it’s a five-door, the rear handles have been concealed in the C-pillars to accentuate the jacked-up, coupe-like profile.
Alloy wheels and distinctive LED daytime running lights are standard across the range while on Dynamic models the main front and rear lamps are also of the LED variety.
Toyota have been just as creative on the inside.
Various lines, colours and textures have been used to give the cabin a vibrant, contemporary ambience.
Function hasn’t been sacrificed in the pursuit of form, however, and the dashboard wraps around the driver perfectly, putting all the controls within easy reach.
The fit and finish is excellent while the list of standard kit is a long one. Climate and cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror and eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system are standard across the range. Excel trim adds sat nav, keyless entry, heated seats, parking assist and powered mirrors while the top-of-therange Dynamic includes the LED headlamps and metallic paint.
Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system is included with an eight-inch touchscreen display mounted high on the dashboard. DAB radio and Bluetooth are standard.
Driver and front seat passenger are well catered for, with plenty of space and seat adjustment.
Despite the coupe-like styling there’s a reasonable – and you might say, surprising – amount of head and leg room in the rear. Access is easy thanks to doors that open wide and the sloping roof will only prove a hindrance to taller people.
The boot is about what you’d expect in a family hatchback at 377 litres. It’s a useful shape and the large tailgate makes access easy. There’s a small amount of additional storage beneath the boot floor but to free up more room you’ll need to drop the 60/40 split/fold rear seats.
Under the bonnet of my test car was Toyota’s 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Responsive and refined, it provides the C-HR with reasonable performance – 62mph takes 11.4 seconds to arrive – and decent fuel economy.
It rides on a new platform that strikes a reasonable balance between good handling and a decent level of comfort.
The steering is light, but welljudged and linear with a decent amount of feedback.
There are three modes to select from – Sport, Normal and Eco – that alter the driving experience by changing the weight of the steering, altering throttle response as well as the behaviour of the CVT gearbox.
Toyota’s Intelligent Manual Transmission automatically alters engine speed on down and upshifts to smooth out changes.
The gearbox features virtual ratios in manual mode and it works really well, feeling as natural as a standard cogged transmission.
The C-HR is a smart, refined, great-handling automobile. Toyota have been brave with the styling and produced a compact SUV that really does have the power to turn heads.
Given the impressive breadth of its abilities it’s hard to see the C-HR being anything other than a hit for the Japanese firm.