Given how Toyota is better known for its bland bread-and-butter cars, the C-HR is nothing short of shocking.
Even more shocking, however, is the mild performance that belies the C-HR’s wild exterior and driver-oriented cockpit. The C-HR has the most leisurely acceleration and a ride quality that is cushy rather than sporty.
That said, the C-HR’s turbocharged 1.2-litre is the most refined motor here, while its CVT is the best we’ve tested so far. The C-HR’s only real drawbacks are its low roofline and stiff pricing. But if you want something stylish without having to suffer (too much) for it, then the sunny C-HR is for you.
If you’re passionate about driving, then the Mazda CX-3 is your ride. Its engine revs keenly and its gearbox is always eager to drop a cog or two. We also love the CX-3’s head-up display and excellent infotainment.
While we love the CX-3’s soul-stirring character and can even live with the higher road tax its 2-litre motor attracts, it’s hard to look past the narrow backseat and small boot, which reduce the car’s overall practicality.
The most irresistible crossover in this story is the dynamic Hyundai Kona. Toyota may have dared to produce something as shocking as the C-HR, but Hyundai has gone a step further, for the Kona’s character actually matches its exterior hue and design. The Kona’s dynamism is backed up by its ondemand all-wheel-drive and wonderful turbocharged 1.6-litre motor, which lets it zip about town with ease. The Kona’s other strengths are its commodious cabin, roomy boot and great onboard connectivity.
The Kona’s only missteps are its plasticky interior and slightly firm ride, and the $20,000 VES surcharge levied on the Hyundai adversely affects its value-formoney proposition. But these are small penalties to pay for a colourful crossover that out-funks and outruns the competition in this shootout.
(Left to right) CX-3’s lengthy fob fits better in a bag than in a pocket, Kona’s device looks the classiest and its buttons are the nicest to press, while the plainness of the C-HR’s key is ironic given the funkiness of the car it unlocks.