24 May 2017

Review: Toyota C-HR

Chalk and cheese. The Urban Cruiser and the C-HR, both from Toyota. You'd not think one replaced the other, writes Brian Byrne. The UC was square in shape, uncool, a small MPV in classification. But it drove quite well.

The C-HR, on the other hand, is styled to draw eyes. And customers. Especially other brands' customers. In particular, customers who buy the likes of the Nissan Juke, the first of the funky small crossovers and doing quite nicely for Renault's Japanese partner.

The C-HR is bigger than the Juke, so it's really competing up against the Qashqai, Mazda's CX-3, Suzuki's S-Cross and Kia's Niro amongst others in a very crowded segment. A very competitive space too, with a lot of good motors around. A place where a newcomer has to stand out. The C-HR does.

There's really a lot going on in the style. I don't know of any car at the moment which has so many creases and shapes and curves and curiosities in its metal and plastic exterior components. Even the rear door handles, set high against the rear pillar are very individual. Strikes me it could be the very devil to wash. But I got some positive comments on the overall looks.

I liked the inside finish. The quality is good, the shapes are good, even the leather pad sitting on top of the dash. Though the central high-set infotainment screens is big, the shape flowing into the dash makes it seem part of the whole. It has a cool blue hue.

The seats are particularly good, and I got passenger compliments on them. And though it is a compact crossover in size, on. a similar footprint as an Auris, there's fairly decent room for rear passengers. It is, of course, only a 5-seat. Good luggage space is another plus.

The real enjoyment was driving it. My review car was the non-hybrid, with a 1.2 turbocharged petrol engine. Output is some 116hp, and the sprint period isn't groundbreaking, but the smoothness of the powertrain was a joy to operate. Maybe it's the refreshing experience of non-diesel.

Ride was a little tight, but overall comfort was good. The steering is nicely balanced and gearshift as smooth and snicky as one has grown to expect from Toyota for many years.

Overall the C-HR was a car that I happily went out of the house to drive on any pretext, and that's the kind of thing that helps a car stand out from its competitors.

I'll be curious to see what they do when it comes to a new generation, because I can't see this complex shape evolving any further. But for the next seven years, the C-HR will swing quite a lot of new customers for Toyota.

Prices start at €26,895.