With its long-established RAV4 having lost ground to Nissan’s all-conquering Qashqai in recent times, Toyota is fighting back in the SUV stakes. Its brand new C-HR crossover is touted as a ‘high-rider coupé’; which in everyday terms means it’s a medium-to-large hatchback that sports a nod to sports-utility styling.
Underneath it all is essentially a Prius, which means C-HR buyers get a choice of a 113bhp 1.2 petrol turbo or a 120bhp 1.8-litre petrol and electric motor-driven Hybrid. We’re concentrating on the latter here, which Toyota predicts will account for 70 per cent of sales.
The cabin is spacious front and back – although the view out for rear passengers is a little limited. The driver, on the other hand, gets great vision of traffic around them, complemented by the vista of a swoopily attractive dash. Kit levels are as appealing as the interior’s styling, and the 377-litre boot can be boosted by dropping the rear seats flat.
Our quick drive of the 1.2 petrol turbo manual model showed it to be a sweet performer. It can also be mated to a continually variable transmission (CVT), which propels either the front wheels or all four. The same set-up, albeit driving the front wheels only, accompanies the highly evolved, very smart and very efficient hybrid set-up. There is no diesel alternative, as Toyota looks to futureproof its drivetrains against the spectre of probable future legislation against particulate emissions.
The C-HR is – perhaps surprisingly – rather entertaining from behind the wheel, with its driving characteristics tuned specially for the European market. That means eager handling, a supple ride and tidy steering. It does all this while looking much cooler than the more conservative Prius, too – something Toyota hopes will contribute to 100,000 Euro sales annually.
Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid
On sale: January 2017
Engine: 4cyls, 1798cc, petrol, plus electric motor
Power: 96bhp at 5200rpm
Torque: 106lb ft at 3600-4000rpm
Top speed: 105mph
Economy: 74.3mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 86g/km, 15%
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