Toyota C-HR review

Toyota’s new crossover is seriously good looking, sharp to drive and hugely economical.

Pros: styling, quality, economy, handling

Cons: small in the back, expensive

Toyota C-HR Design

If the old C-HR was good looking — and it was — then the new C-HR comes out swinging hard in styling terms. It’s looking for goals, not points, and it’s scoring them easily. Toyota’s styling team said that they were trying to create a concept car for the road, and they seem to have succeeded. The beaky nose, with the wraparound C-shaped headlights, looks great, especially with the contrasting black lower panels around the big air intake. Down the sides, there are complex Y-shaped creases, and at the back the C-HR gets really complicated, with an almost-horizontal rear screen and full width taillights that include a light-up C-HR logo in the centre.

It could look a bit messy, but the lines have been deftly drawn so the whole thing looks coherent. It really works if you get one of the more expensive models — the GR Sport or the Premiere Edition — and their black-painted rear end, which looks really good when combined with a bright metallic colour. Standard 18-inch alloys look fine, but obviously there’s a styling bonus if you go for the arch-filling 20-inch rims of higher-spec versions. There’ll be no losing this one in a car park, that’s for sure.

Toyota C-HR Interior

The outgoing C-HR had one of Toyota’s best ever interiors, one that was so stylish and so well-made, you could have confused it for a baby Lexus. The new C-HR picks up from there, and carries over most of the old one’s quality, but doesn’t quite hit the heights when it comes to style. That said, it’s hardly a disappointment. Big, high-backed bucket front seats give you a really comfortable driving position, while the standard 12.3-inch driver’s instrument screen looks great, and is packed with information without looking over-crowded nor difficult to read.

The central touchscreen — eight inches across for the most basic Sport model, 12.3 inches on all the others — uses Toyota’s latest software which is slick and easy to use, and which looks good too. It gets over-the-air software updates, and there’s a standard cloud-based navigation system which can route you around traffic jams when necessary. The chunky steering wheel gets a standard ‘animal-free’ leather wrap (which Toyota reckons saves several kilos of CO2 emissions compared to genuine cow hide) and there’s useful storage areas in the front, although the door bins are on the narrow side.

Rear-seat legroom and headroom are fine, with enough space for even tall passengers to get comfortable, but the shallow windows and the way the roof and rear pillars wrap around you means that the cabin in the back feels dark and enclosed. Our test car came with an optional glass roof, but even so, the back feels claustrophobic at times. The boot, at 388 litres, is also on the small side — even a Ford Puma offers more load space than that.

Toyota C-HR Performance & Drive

For the moment, you can choose between two hybrid engines for your C-HR. Sport, Sport+ and Sol models come with the 140hp 1.8-litre engine, while the range-topping GR Sport and Premiere Edition come with the 197hp 2.0-litre unit, although Toyota Ireland expects to sell only a few of those. To be honest, stretching up to the top-spec models for the 2.0-litre isn’t really worth it — the extra power and torque really only count if you have your foot flat to the floor, and the 1.8 feels fine to drive, so you’re just as well off with that one.

Impressively, both engines are almost equally economical, and on our test route — which included town, country and dual-carriageway driving, with a steep and twisty mountain route in between — both recorded fuel consumption of between 4.6- and 4.7 litres per 100km.

There is a bit of engine revving — traditional hybrid stuff — when you accelerate hard, but it’s rarely an intrusive engine at any other times, and overall refinement is incredibly good.

The new C-HR seems to have steering that’s a little more distant than that of the old version, but even so it’s still ahead of most of its rivals when it comes to how it drives. It feels agile and planted when most other crossovers just feel kind of dull to drive, and the Toyota comes off as more premium in feel as a result. On the optional 20-inch wheels, the ride quality gets too rough and bouncy though, so stick with the standard 18s.

Toyota C-HR Pricing

Prices for the most affordable Sport model start at €40,520. Standard equipment is good, though, and includes two-zone climate control, the 12.3-inch instrument screen and radar-guided cruise control, but there’s no getting away from the fact that key rivals from the likes of Kia and Hyundai are better-priced, and more spacious inside too. Equally, Toyota’s own — and much more practical — Corolla Cross is less expensive, even though it uses the same mechanical package underneath.

Carzone Verdict

The C-HR is definitely Toyota’s style leader, looking sharper by far than the mechanically-similar Corolla Cross, and far more interesting than the Corolla hatchback itself. It’s also really nice inside, even if it’s not particularly kid-friendly in the back. While it’s not quite as sharp to drive as its predecessor, it is definitely more enjoyable and engaging from behind the wheel than most of its competition. Add that to Toyota’s usual reliability, and the excellent fuel economy, and it’s hard not to see it being a winner, even at this price.

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