Toyota C-HR Dynamic 1.2 CVT
Back in the 1980’s, I had a real soft spot for the second Mad Max movie, the “road warrior “ Set in post-apocalypse Australia, the film starring Mel Gibson, famously featured a number of stunning car chases with the protagonists driving souped-up beach buggies. I’d like to think that the designer of Toyotas latest the car the Coupe-High Rider , or C-HR for short, watched it too, because the C-HR would most definitely not have looked out of place in this film.
The styling of this new mid-range SUV is quite stunningly different to anything else out there & features the kind of bold lines & shapes found on sister brand Infiniti’s QX30, as well as the Mercedes GLC Coupe. Nissan’s Juke turned heads, but not always for the right reasons, whilst the C-HR will do the same & may sign the death knoll for conventional crossovers.
Under the skin, the C-HR uses Toyota’s new Global Architecture, which underpins several Toyota models, including the current Prius. But, it is the outside which really steals the show, the model staying true to the concept version, but with five-doors, which debuted at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The C-HR features a low roofline which gives it’s five-door body a coupe-look. The rear door handles are hidden in the C-Pillars & are a style statement all on their own. The roof has a cool rear overhang on it, the rear lights look like the badges worn on Star Trek uniforms & at the aggressive front is finished off nicely by the two highly placed front headlights. There doesn’t appear to be a right angle anywhere, which is refreshing to say the least !
The C-HR’s engine choice is limited to just two: a 113bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol or a 122bhp 1.8 petrol-electric hybrid, which is also used in the Prius. The 1.2 turbo comes with a six-speed manual or the option of a CVT auto, while the hybrid, like all of Toyota’s petrol-electric models, is exclusively CVT auto.
The simplicity continues with the trim levels; Icon, Excel and Dynamic. You can get both engines in all three trims, although 4WD is only offered on Excel and Dynamic models. Standard kit across the range includes auto lights & wipers, Bluetooth, DAB radio, adaptive cruise control & a 7” touchscreen infotainment screen, with traffic sign recognition. Excel models add Touch 2 multimedia SatNav, keyless entry, heated front seats, self parking & auto main beam, with my test car, the top of the range Dynamic coming with 18” wheels, LED headlamps & metallic paint as standard. Fitted to my test model were a Premium Pack, consisting of full black leather seat upholstery & a JBL audio system, an additional £1,595, with metallic Nebula blue paint & contrasting black roof, which adds £545 to the price.
Often, the inside of a Toyota can let all of that clever exterior styling down. Crucially though, Toyota have worked hard to deliver a premium interior, which is much closer to the inside of a Lexus than any Toyota I have driven before. High quality plastics & gloss black inserts featured on my test model, the C-HR Dynamic 1.2 CVT model. The stand out is the large central infotainment screen, located in the wraparound dashboard, which was finished in the cars colour of Nebula blue. This colour continues across the bottom of there dashboard & then merges onto both interior doors. Another nice touch is the diamond pattern that’s repeated in the door trim, headlining, multi-function wheel buttons & climate controls. Toyota really have tried hard to lift the quality with the C-HR.
Externally, the C-HR is similar in size to a Nissan Qashqai. However, because of the sloping coupe styling, it feels a little cramped in there, especially in the back. This claustrophobic feeling is heightened by the jet black roof lining, narrow rear windows & chunky rear C-Pillars which obscure your view when reversing around a corner or into a parking space.
Driver & front passenger though, will feel comfortably cocooned in the cabin. All the controls fall easily to hand & there’s covered storage in the centre binnacle, a cup holder in front of this & a smaller place to put your keys at & two door pocket cup holders as well. Rear passengers may lack head height, but leg room is adequate & you get neat cupholder’s in the doors. There’s a surprisingly decent sized boot, which offers 377 litres of storage. The large tailgate is refreshingly heavy & there’s extra storage underneath the boot floor. A 60/40 split/fold rear seat is standard. The seats are folded by releasing handles on top of the seat backs, rather than via handles in the boot itself.
The C-HR offers both a comfortable ride & decent handling, with all four passengers benefitting from the supple suspension & lack of body roll that’s on offer. The relatively high driving position offers a good view of the road ahead, but you do need the reversing camera to get past those massive C-Pillars when reversing. My test car the 1.2 CVT driven auto, was absolutely fine around town driven at lower speeds. Hit an incline or put your foot down & the CVT groans with the effort, as the engine struggles to respond as fast as you’d like. All versions get a choice of Sport, Normal & Eco modes, which alter the weight of the steering, the throttle response & CVT gearbox strategies to suit your mood & the road conditions. I tried al three, choosing in the main to drive with Eco around town & Sport on the motorway, but in all honestly the difference between all three appeared minimal.
On the motorway, the useful adaptive cruise control, made longer journeys just that bit easier & of course far more relaxing, especially on any Smart motorways I encountered.
The 1.2-litre turbo engine offers just 113bhp, only 185Nm of torque & with a kerb weight of 1,320kg, the C-HR takes 11.4 seconds to go from 0-62mph. It is sluggish. Highish CO2 emissions of 135g/km won’t help drag in fleet customers, neither will the claimed combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg. We drove the C-HR for 300 miles on a selection of urban, extra urban & motorway roads & managed to average 39.4mpg in our 7 days in it.
Like all Toyota models, the C-HR comes with the brand’s five-year/100,000 mile warranty. This lengthy guarantee brings greater peace of mind than many mainstream rivals’ policies, but still falls short of Kia’s seven-year cover, or Hyundai’s unlimited mileage offer. If you go hybrid, there’s also no extended warranty for the hybrid drivetrain & batteries, some=thing which which was offered by Toyota on early Prius models for up to eight years.
If you’re a high mileage company car driver, then the C-HR’s short service intervals of 10,000 miles, are likely to be another turn-off with many competitors offering as much as 20,000 miles between visits. On the plus side, Toyota’s are generally reliable & the UK dealer network has an excellent reputation for servicing as well. A BIK of 24% should also appeal.
In conclusion, the C-HR really appealed to me. It looks great, comes well equipped, drives well, although I’d like to try the 1.8 engine, appealed to my wife, which almost everything I have ever driven does not & it’s competitively priced, with my model costing £26,765 OTR. ( £28,905 as tested ) Retail customers should lap it up, but I’m not convinced that fleet customers will follow suit, as it’s lacking the holy trinity of decent fuel economy, low emissions & decent service intervals. Having said that, on looks alone it leaves the Juke, Ateca & CX-3 in it’s wake. I am if nothing else, a shallow man.
A Mad Max Fury Road 3.75/5.