The Star Malaysia - Star2
Compact SUV battle
It’s another shootout time again. Now, we have new upstart Toyota C-HR taking on the highly successful Honda HR-V to be the most desirable compact SUV in the local scene. Turn the pages to find out.
SINCE its introduction in February 2015, the Honda HR-V has been the runaway leader in the compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) segment in Malaysia thanks to its stylish exterior and spacious interior as well as having an attractive price-point.
Assembled at Honda Malaysia’s Pegoh plant in Alor Gajah, Melaka, the HR-V is offered in four trims priced from RM92,545 to RM112,111 with zero-rated GST (Goods and Services Tax).
A new challenger that arrived in March this year is the Thailand-built Toyota C-HR, which is priced at RM137,300 with zero-rated GST.
The massive price difference is due to the HR-V getting tax incentives as a locally assembled vehicle as well as by virtue of the C-HR being better equipped in comfort and safety kit.
We chose to pit the C-HR against the top-grade Honda HR-V (V grade) priced at RM110,819 with zero-rated GST.
Of course, our HR-V test drive unit in Dark Ruby Red Pearl was spiced up with optional accessories such as bumper garnishing, side running boards, illuminated side steps and door visors as well as window-tint film which brings its cost up by some RM6,300 to RM7,800 (depending on window-tint film package) .
But, even with all that extra kit, the price difference is still around a princely RM18,700 to RM20,000.
It is tough to justify the big price difference even though the C-HR is better equipped with an extra airbag, full leather seats, Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and tyre pressure monitoring system.
Still, the top-grade HR-V is not without its extra attractions like LED headlights (C-HR has projector halogen headlamps) and two USB ports (C-HR has one USB port).
Also, it should be noted that while both cars use MacPherson struts for the front suspension, the C-HR has a more expensive double-wishbone rear set-up (HR-V has a rear torsion beam which is less costly, simpler, lighter and more compact).
The double-wishbone suspension is usually preferred by premium and performance oriented vehicles as it provides for a better balance between handling and ride comfort.
What’s also interesting about the C-HR is that
it was built using the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which was announced three years ago to help the company build cars without using too much resources.
So, unlike the HR-V which is based on the popular Honda Jazz’s compact platform, the C-HR uses the TNGA platform which means a low-stance design, thus giving it a lower centre-of-gravity and in turn, translates into better stability and handling.
Both cars have the hidden-type-design or integrated rear-door handles, which increases the style quotient.
In terms of size, the C-HR measures 4,360mm (length); 1,795mm (width); 1,565mm (height) and 2,640mm (wheelbase).
The HR-V measures 4,294mm (length); 1,772mm (width); 1,605mm (height) and 2,610mm (wheelbase).
This means the C-HR is a little longer, wider and lower than its Honda rival.
Both are powered by a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines mated to fuel-economical continuously variable transmission (CVT), and are also fitted with 17-inch wheels.
The 142PS/172Nm HR-V outputs a bit more power at slightly higher engine speeds than its 140PS/171Nm Toyota rival, and with a 1,267kg kerb weight, it is also lighter by a substantial 138kg when compared to the C-HR.
The weight difference probably explains why during impromptu off-the-line sprints, the HR-V was able to outpace the C-HR in acceleration.
As for fuel economy, both cars claim nearly similar figures with the Toyota just edging the Honda (6.5 litres per 100km for the C-HR versus 6.6 litres per 100km for the HR-V).
Of course, in the reality of daily commuting, one can never achieve anything close to those claimed fuel consumption figures.
On the HR-V, the rear door is wider and the rear cargo floor is also lower, making it more convenient when loading bulkier items.
The HR-V also wins with much better rear cargo room (437 litres versus 318 litres in the C-HR) and possesses rear Ultra seats that can be folded flat or tipped up (compared with 60:40 split-folding rear seats in the C-HR).