Motorhub has put the new, second generation Toyota C-HR ‘hybrid electric’ through its paces at its European launch. The striking compact five-seat SUV crossover hopes to continue where it left off as a pivotal design-led attention grabber for the Japanese brand – is it going to be that difficult second album, read on…
The footprint of the petrol hybrid car remains close to the 2017 original – it is the same length but slightly taller (+20mm) and wider too at 1830mm (+35mm) and is similar to the new Hyundai Kona in overall size. New C-HR comes with the ‘obligatory for any new model’ addition of new tech, greater powertrain efficiency, safety features and tasty design touches that really catch the eye. The exterior has a Lexus-like design quality (no surprise) with a beautifully sharp front end and new light signature, there’s a new rear lighter too. Also new are flush pop-out door handles that add a premium feel. Any neat and contour-full car design invariably means a loss of practicality – so think of C-HR as the opposite of say a, Berlingo Multipace MPV. Rear seat occupants with have adequate room but continue to have an almost claustrophobic view to the outside world and the boot is modest too at 388 litres (repair kit-no spare wheel) – but that’s it! I have no other criticism of its exterior styling, and remain a fan of the statement it makes on the street. The original C-HR showed Toyota’s desire to make more attractive cars and C-HR has been a hook to bring younger, more fashion conscious buyers to the brand. The standard car features a single paint colour with some nice options. On higher ‘Sol’ and ‘Sport’ grades you get a contrasting roof colour (Bi-Tone). On the ‘Premiere Edition’ and ‘GR Sport’ grades you get Bi-Tone + that adds a black rear paint treatment that when viewed side on makes the car look a little shorter. You could be following behind a Bi-Tone + C-HR and be utterly convinced the car was black until you pull alongside to see its bright contrasting colour.
Inside the cabin feels cosy and compact with a driver-focused dash layout. Vegan leather and fabric trims are available. Our high grade test cars were fully equipped and featured the kitchen sink. Refreshingly the new C-HR features plenty of physical buttons in addition to a large 12.3 inch centre touch screen on all bar the entry model that gets an 8 inch screen. The drivers digital display is comprehensive, a nice way of saying it’s a bit fussy, but tech heads will soon find their way around its controls and set it to what they want displayed. The seats are comfortable and it is only in the rear where occupants will be reminded of the C-HR’s compact size. The rear doors open wide but need space to do so. The rears are pointy and getting a baby seat in and out would be challenging – especially in car parks.
Right now just two of the four model hybrid-only C-HR range are on sale in Ireland – the volume selling model will be a 1.8 litre HEV with the 198hp 2 litre HEV only available in a sportier ‘GR Sport’ grade (€52,500) and Premiere Edition (€49,940). Toyota Ireland does not expect to bring the AWD (all wheel drive) version in but will bring the PHEV (plug in hybrid) 2 litre C-HR when it goes into production. The front wheel drive 1.8 HEV C-HR pushes out a perfectly adequate combined power output of 140hp and 185nm of torque. Selectable driving modes are available via a small toggle switch near the base of the automatic gear sector Emissions are low at 108g/km and fuel consumption is impressive for a petrol powered hybrid at 4.8l/100km – during our testing we easily managed to get close to this figure – mostly in the low 5s.
On the roads of Ibiza we cruised with ease in a hushed cabin. The suspension set up feels mature and comfortable when travelling on good roads and in a straight line. The suspension softens up when cornering and reminds you that it is a compact family car and not a sports car. The C-HR does not encourage you to drive quickly but will cruise and transport users without complaint or at anytime feeling underpowered. The hybrid transmission can be noisy under hard acceleration but thankfully the noise generated by its auto gearbox is far removed from the clutch-slipping whine of early hybrids. New C-HR features a host of driver assistance safety features under the latest Toyota banner ‘Safety Sense 3’.
The new Toyota C-HR is well equipped – but still relatively pricy starting from €40,520. I wish Toyoyta would offer a more affordable entry-level version to allow potential buyers with a pulse to get in to one. The new C-HR is a great looking, expressive car, check it out. Deliveries start in January.