The Toyota C-HR ticks many of the boxes buyers consider when buying a new motor. Fuel economy – check, low emissions – check, safety features – check, low-cost VED banding – check, generous pan-European vehicle warranty – check. So, the C-HR is clearly good on paper, but what about when it’s on the road?
The model we tested is the C-HR Dynamic 1.8 Hybrid, a car that comes in with roughly the same footprint as others in the compact SUV class such as the Nissan Qashqai, RAV4 and Seat Ateca but with a far more pronounced body shape.
If you’re wondering, C-HR stands for the slightly less catchy Coupe High-Rider. Hmmm, High Rider? Given that the C-HR is competing in the cramped SUV market you’d expect as a minimum the characteristic elevated driving position that is a given among this class of car. However the C-HR doesn’t seem to have this, certainly, when driving you don’t feel like you have a greater on-road vantage point.
The driving experience
It would be wrong to describe the C-HR Hybrid as something it is not and given its engine and chassis, it would be easy to write it off as a pimped-up Prius. However, there is much more going on here and Toyota has delivered a pretty robust and spacious vehicle – which from an emissions and fuel economy perspective is very attractive indeed.
In traffic and on the open road it is a very comfortable and easy drive. However, joining traffic at speed or manoeuvring where a bit more responsiveness under the hood would be appreciated, the C-HR’s bulk weighs against it.
It takes a sedate 11 seconds to go from nought to 60 which, if you are used to the car, can be compensated for. If you’re not used to it, it undermines your confidence, especially at busy motorway junctions. A bit more power wouldn’t go amiss.
That said, the driving experience itself is good. The car is a comfortable cruiser and the cruise control settings easily managed. In fact, all the driver controls are carefully and thoughtfully laid out. There is plenty of room up front and while you might not feel as elevated as in some of the vehicles in this class, it is nevertheless a light and airy cabin. Those relegated to the rear seats, however, won't find much to cheer about with the compact passenger door windows. Compact and bijou is an understatement.
Under the hood, the similarity with the Prius is evident; sharing the same global architecture and latest version of the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive has a system output of 121/90 (bhp/kw), while the 1.8-litre engine a 16-valve DOHC valve mechanism – all laudable but you can’t escape the feeling it is an engine too small for the size of car.
The C-HR is a bit of an enigma, the styling suggests a dynamic, youngish, urban professional as the target market, however, the car's standout qualities are its supersensible safety features, the majority of which come as standard across the range.
Toyota Safety Sense™ is an excellent collection of premium safety features, available as standard, that helps lift the C-HR above its competitors in terms of driver reassurance and on-road security. Pre-Collision sensors automatically reduces speed and monitors braking distances is a welcome enhancement that certainly takes some of the drudge out of motorway driving. This is supplemented by Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Also included is:
- Electric Parking Brake (EPB)
- Brake hold
- Star Safety System™ – includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology®
- Ten airbags – includes driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag, front passenger seat-cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags
- 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions; driver-side Emergency Locking Retractor and Automatic/Emergency Locking Retractor on all passenger seatbelts
- Driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters
- Driver and front passenger seatbelt warning system
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) includes lower anchors and tether anchors on outboard second-row seats
- Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)15 and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)41
- Tyre Pressure Monitor System. When the tire pressure drops to a critically low level, a light on the instrument panel alerts the driver.
- Child-protector rear door locks.
Toyota C-HR ride comfort
Rides really well on 18in wheels and doesn’t suffer the rolling or exaggerated suspension of similar cars like the Peugeot 3008. It’s worryingly quiet – even at speed – not something I’m used to with my day-to-day drive and it handled well in some absolutely stinking wet weather. On potholed broken Tarmac and even on pretty agricultural car parks it acquitted itself well.
My only gripe with the interiors controls would have to be the park assist rear camera display quality.
It’s fair to say Toyota and classy interiors aren’t words you’d immediately associate with each other, but the C-HR is a step in the right direction to changing that. It’s not high-end chic but the top of the range Dynamic trim delivers a very accomplished level of finish with some innovative touches which put to bed the argument that this is a Prius in everything but name. It is not, the C-HR is its own animal.
Media centre / navigation
The elegant design continues into the seamless, layered architecture for the instrument panel, which extends into the door trim and features stylish details and a piano black panel. It creates a contrast between sensual surfacing and crisp lines to project a fresh yet comfortable feel.
All models come with Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system – a 7-inch touchscreen media centre that supports Bleutooth, DAB and media play via aux and usb cable. The JBL speaker system in the Dynamic has a decent range and is refreshingly free of the mega bass default so common these days.
The touchscreen is elevated on the dashboard without compromising on driver visibility. It is a really nice set-up with good sound quality and ease of use. If I had to be hyper picky, which I am, I would say the Sat Nav interface is a bit retro and clumsy but it got me where I wanted to go trouble free so that is splitting hairs.
The DAB radio was less intuitive, in fact, in some instances it defeated me. We tested the within a few miles of the mighty broadcast masts at Crystal Palace but still had plenty of dropped signal and failure to find channels. As mentioned earlier the sound quality is excellent but a stronger tuner is needed for you to really feel the love.
The C-HR has generously spacious boot providing plenty of space at 377 litres. The rear seats can be folded down (not flat) – but seriously, you’re unlikely to need to.
Outwardly the Toyota C-HR is a bit of an ugly duckling – inside it is a feature-rich and refreshing addition to the crossover class. Its styling continues to divide opinion in our office but if you can see past its distinctive, sculptured frame there is much to recommend about this car.
2017 Toyota C-HR Hybrid at a glance
|Body||5-door hatchback SUV|
|Layout||Front engine, front wheel drive|
|Hybrid system||Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive|
|Powertrain||1.8L, 16-valve DOHC, VVT-i petrol engine, electric hybrid drive|
|Transmission||Electric CVT, FWD|
|Torque||142 @ 3,600 – 4000|
|Steering||Rack and pinion, electric power steering. Min turn radius = 5.2|
|Wheel size & Tyres||18in 225/50R18|
|Battery||6.5Ah/1.31kWh nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)|
|Combined fuel economy||72.4mpg|
|Dimensions||4,360 x 1,795 x 1,565mm (LWH)|
|Vehicle warranty||5-year/100,000 mile pan-European mechanical warranty; 3-year paintwork warranty; 12-year anti corosion warranty; one-year full AA cover|
From £28,085 on road (£30,225 as tested).
For more information see Toyota C-HR