Car Review: Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Who says Toyotas are dull? It’s just a pity this striking crossover doesn’t have a better powertrain…

The Toyota C-HR really is a crossover – a cross between a hatchback, SUV and coupe. It’s a rival to the Nissan Qashqai that, unlike any number of other conventional rivals, aims to use sheer wow factor to stand out.

The clue is in the name. C-HR stands for ‘coupe high-rider’. On paper, it’s up against the Kia Niro, Peugeot 3008 and Seat Ateca, but in practice it trades some passenger headroom and boot space to accommodate its distinctive styling.

This defines the type of customer Toyota is targeting. It’s concentrating a little less on families seeking a more practical alternative to a regular family hatchback, and more on younger buyers who are after something standout. Such people are less likely to be bothered about the hard-to-access rear cabin, because the admiring glances out on the street make up for it.

Yes, a head-turning Toyota. They might be onto something there.

Most buyers are expected to take the 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid engine choice. You can have the C-HR with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol, and even choose it with four-wheel drive, but the core model is the front-wheel drive hybrid.

So we were surprised to discover it’s so disappointing. It lacks responsiveness, meaning you must mash the accelerator pedal into the floor, causing the engine to rev raucously. In town, it theoretically offers a degree of electric-only driving, but it’s hard to tap into this without the engine cutting in. Wheezy and inert, the engine is the most disappointing part of the C-HR.

It’s a shame, because it actually handles well. Based on Toyota’s new TNGA platform, the expensive suspension delivers a wieldy feel and good response. The ride is also sophisticated, with a good blend of control and suppleness. Such an able chassis deserves a better powertrain.

Inside, the C-HR feels high-quality and, in contrast to the wacky exterior, is neatly and logically laid out. There are some thoughtful design touches and a clear 7.0-in infotainment screen is a clever centrepiece.

(a

And as it turns out, the futuristic styling doesn’t compromise interior practicality as much as you first fear. Although the rear is hard to get into, and the hidden doorhandles are a pain, there’s enough space there for most normal-sized adults. It’s certainly class-competitive, and the only real limiting factor is headroom. The boot isn’t bad either.

Which makes it such a pity that this distinctive, thoughtfully-designed car with such an arguably over-engineered chassis has such a weak powertrain. The appeal of hybrid sounds good on paper, but isn’t there in practice.

We look forward to trying out the 1.2-litre turbo petrol version to see if it can add an extra star or two to the C-HR’s rating.

(Autocar

Toyota C-HR Hybrid Excel

Price: £26,495

Engine: 4 cyls, 1798cc, petrol, plus electric motor

Power: 120bhp

Torque: 105lb ft

Gearbox: e-CVT

Kerb weight: 1420kg

0-62mph: 11.0sec

Top speed: 106mph

Economy: 72.4mpg (combined)

CO2/tax band: 87g/km, 15%

AUTOCAR

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in