Lat­est boom among ba­bies

Con­cept sets the scene for a pro­duc­tion mini SUV to slot in be­low the RAV4 — just wait about three years

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER

TOY­OTA is pre­par­ing a full-on at­tack on the new­est small-car boom class, for mini SUVs.

Its C-HR con­cept at the Paris mo­tor show sets the scene for a pro­duc­tion car to slot in be­low the RAV4.

Toy­ota is ar­riv­ing rel­a­tively late in the ac­tion, trail­ing a range of small SUVs in­clud­ing the Subaru XV, Nis­san Qashqai, Suzuki S-Cross and Re­nault Cap­tur.

The C-HR is of­fi­cially only a dream ma­chine but it clearly points to a show­room ar­rival within three years.

“We don’t have a model that com­petes in that seg­ment. We’re al­ways look­ing to com­pete in all seg­ments,” says Toy­ota Aus­tralia spokesman Mike Breen. “It would be be­low RAV. It’s head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

Toy­ota has dom­i­nated the SUV sec­tor in Aus­tralia since the ar­rival of the orig­i­nal LandCruiser. It opens with RAV and runs through to the heavy­weight LandCruiser 200 Se­ries that’s the de­fault choice for the Out­back.

“I don’t think you can have too many SUVs. But, for the mo­ment, (C-HR) is only a con­cept,” says Breen.

The name comes from the C seg­ment for com­pact cars, H for hy­brid and R for crossover.

The C-HR is built on a new Toy­ota plat­form and uses, not sur­pris­ingly, a pow­er­train sim­i­lar to the petrol-elec­tric pack in the Prius C in Aus­tralia.

The styling of the C-HR takes cues from the 86 sports car and Dakar rac­ers, so is un­likely to sur­vive un­touched for pro­duc­tion. But, typ­i­cally for Toy­ota, it will tour the global mo­tor show cir­cuit to get in­put from po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Toy­ota used a sim­i­lar ap­proach in de­vel­op­ing the 86 sports car, which took more than three years to en­ter pro­duc­tion. A drop­top 86 has also been teased but so far has not got the go-ahead for show­rooms.

Breen con­firms that the C- HR is another project with the per­sonal support of Toy­ota CEO Akio Toy­oda.

“It would take us in a new di­rec­tion. And it’s another ex­am­ple of Akio’s idea to add per­for­mance and ex­cite­ment to the Toy­ota brand,” Breen says.

“This is the new gem for Toy­ota. Its de­vel­op­ment was driven by cus­tomers in Europe and it was shaped by the Toy­ota de­sign stu­dio ED2, in France.”

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