Toyota C-HR review

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The striking Toyota C-HR burst on the scene in 2016 and has sold over 400,000 units in Europe to date. A mid-life makeover has been carried out and we’re testing the fully loaded ‘Launch Edition’ this week.

The coupe high rider (C-HR) was designed to look like a three door coupe but is in fact a five door with a surprising amount of room even in the rear. Look very closely and you can see the funky little door handles mounted high up at the rear. Not so long ago Toyota was a very easy target for design snobs to have a go at with its portfolio of dependable but dull looking cars. The C-HR changed all that with a bold exterior that shouted look at me (in a good way). C-HR’s interior was thoroughly modern too and a giant leap forward for the Japanese giant.

Two hybrid versions of the new C-HR are on sale in Ireland starting with a 1.8 litre that delivers 122hp. It is available in all grades bar the Launch Edition. An all-new 2 litre with 184hp is available in Sol, Luna Sport and  Launch Edition grades. [Toyota also builds an all wheel drive 1.2 Turbo C-HR with a gearbox equipped with a dynamic torque control system].

So what’s new? Eh, you have to really look quite closely to find out. Outside its been given a bit of a bang of a hammer and features some fresher bumpers, it is longer too by 30mm (now 4390mm) and 5mm taller at 1555mm. The boot capacity remains the same at 370 litres. The C-HR has a neat footprint that is similar to the very stylish Mazda CX30. Under the skin there has been a lot of work done to make the car more efficient such as a new electronic power control unit and shorter multi-shaft hybrid transaxles (take my word for it).

Inside the revised cabin the dash is impressive, although some of the secondary and minor control buttons are located in odd spots and initially hard to find. The great news is that smartphone connectivity is much improved. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make life a lot easier. The seats are very comfy and up front C-HR feels spacious and sporty – it is a good bit darker in the rear seats due to the car’s exterior styling. A growing family should perhaps skip straight to the larger Toyota RAV4.

The 2 litre’s electric motor (there are two actually named MG1 and MG2 pushes out 107hp/202nm of torque) is powered by a rechargeable battery pack mounted under the rear seat bench. Toyota Ireland uses the quite annoying phrase ‘self-charging hybrid’ in its advertising but as the dogs in the street know without petrol this hybrid is going nowhere. What the firm should be saying in a clearer way is that the car will charge up its battery pack using the engine and regenerative braking without the need for owners to take a master degree in hybrid technology. When the battery gets low the car’s own electronic brain decides when to charge it up and also when to use its electric motor’s power. The advantage of a hybrid petrol car over a petrol only car are clear and obvious – there is a reduction in exhaust emissions (Our 2 litre = 118g/km WLTP) and an improvement in fuel economy to diesel car levels. Also as hybrids are automatics, the C-HR is a very easy car to drive and live with.

As with all hybrids there is a dash display you can select that shows how the car’s power is flowing. You can see power going to the driven wheels from the engine or battery and also vice versa when it is regenerative braking. Our attention was drawn to the new EV mode indicator that gives the driver a readout of the percentage of time spent on a journey in ‘EV’ mode (electric). The percentage achieved was impressive but not quite accurate. It measured the time being driven by the elctric motoro but also the time spent stationary as time spent in electric mode – thereby inflating its percentage. Regular cars with stop/start spend a lot of time with the engines off too but don’t claim to be running in ‘zero emissions’ mode. Another niggle, while the car may look like an SUV of sorts, it lacks full length doors – why should that matter? I’ll tell you, if the car is muddy you will brush your legs against the dirty sills on entry and exit.

Okay so niggles aside what is the C-HR like to live with and drive? It comfortable and did all I asked of it. It is quiet inside, the e-CVT auto does drone on a bit when you accelerate hard but in normal driving it is quite silent and delivers the car’s power very smoothly. The 2 litre engine may have World beating thermal efficiency but I cared more that the car delivered the right amount of power. There is a manual sport mode option on the auto, but this is only really useful when holding a gear on long downhills. All the controls are light and easy to use and with 184hp on tap there is always power on hand. Boot size is not great but the seats fold to offer more capacity. Rear headroom and space is good although the body’s high shoulder line means the glazed area for rear passengers to look out of is poor. The rear window is tiny but a reversing camera is the answer to any parking or reversing safety issues.

The C-HR grades available start with Luna on 17 inch alloys, then Sport (the most popular €32,470), Luna Sport (€34,050), Sol (€35,550) and our Launch Edition. Depending on the grade you can get LED headlights (full and dipped beam) and there is a host of driving safety features like blind spot monitor, park assist, speed sign recognition, pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control and many more. Toyota C-HR pricing starts from €30,620 (1.8 Luna) rising to our Launch Edition’s €39,115 with its bi-tone paint, JBL sound system, big alloys, scrolling indicators etc. etc.

The combination of C-HR’s great looks and ease of use make Toyota’s baby SUV a real gem and a car we like a lot at Motorhub Towers.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for 20 years, more recently a judge for Van of the Year. Michael is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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