Toyota C-HR Excel new car review
Compact SUV models have experienced a massive sale boom in recent years and one of the latest contenders to attack this crowded sector is Toyota with its funkily-styled and head-turning C-HR.
The initials stand for Coupe High Rider and the model is clearly aimed at image-conscious buyers – which is just about everyone in the SUV and Crossover class! Cool and very distinctive styling gives this Toyota an edge, and with a more upmarket interior than many rivals and a choice of turbo-petrol or frugal hybrid engines, the C-HR has compelling appeal.
Priced from £20,995, it is well-equipped even in entry level guise, but there should be plenty of demand for the upper-spec versions which are laden with extra kit and a raft of technology and connectivity features for which many buyers are prepared to pay a premium.
Indeed, my test model was in mid-range Excel trim, and with the 1.2 litre petrol engine costs £23,995. With options including leather upholstery, upgraded premium audio system and metallic paint, the total price was £26,190.
The C-HR is similar in size to the Nissan Qashqai, the sector leader, which is a hard act to beat, but this Toyota does pack a few aces, notably a wow-factor wraparound dashboard, stand-out exterior styling with rocket-ship-type protruding rear light clusters, and impressive driving dynamics.
It has coupe design cues with a mix of curves and sharp angles, steeply sloping roofline and ‘hidden’ rear door handles. Beneath its smart exterior suit is the chassis used on the latest Toyota Prius, which on the C-HR delivers superb ride quality and assured handling, arguably best in class.
Despite its higher ride height, independent double-wishbone suspension gives a comfortable ride and minimises cornering pitch.
There is a 1.8 litre petrol-electic engine, likely to be the choice of around 75 per cent of buyers, but the 1.2 turbo-petrol in my test model has a lot to offer – 114 hp to give punchy performance, a 0-60 mph time of 10.9 seconds, top speed of 118 mph and fuel economy of 47.1 mpg combined.
Front and rear occupants have plenty of space though the rear windows are quite small and restrict the view. The 377 litre bootspace is typical of class standards and the rear seats fold down for extra load versatility, though overall, the C-HR is not as roomy as some of its main rivals. Front-wheel drive is standard across the range along with a 6-speed manual gearbox. CVT auto transmission is available on some models, so too four-wheel drive.
All versions get alloy wheels and distinctive LED running lamps, climate and cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror and seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Excel test model adds sat-nav, online connectivity, keyless entry, heated seats and park-assist among extra features.
FOR: Stand-out visual styling, premium-look cabin, Toyota build quality and reliability.
AGAINST: A little less roomy than some rivals.