It doesn’t take too much for me to get excited about anything car related, something as quick and simple as the scenario below (which actually happened) was enough.
Message from contact in Toyota: Hey Andy, I’ve got a new C-HR here, fancy driving it?
I arrive at a specified dealership to pick it up, a lovely white 66 plate C-HR. I’m not usually fond of crossovers but this one has grabbed my attention ever since it was announced and I went to see it in Geneva last year.
The C-HR comes in a 1.2 litre petrol turbo variant which comes in a 115 bhp or an 1.8 litre petrol hybrid which has 122 bhp. Hmm, 7 bhp difference between the 2? I wonder why there is such a small difference between the 2 very different engines. But it would be worth mentioning that the 1.8 litre hybrid almost halves the CO2 emissions of its 1.2 turbo compadre (unless you’re VW, then you may as well not bother looking). I grab the keys and locate a quiet area to drive to.
The exterior looks great. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not a fan of the crossover cars but this one does look good. It’s done away with the quirky playful toy look of the Aygo and matured in to a rather geeky body. With lots off-cuts, grooves, vents and angles, it is rather aesthetically pleasing.
The drive over was interesting. It is worth noting that there are 3 versions of the C-HR available:
- Icon – The base model with 17″ alloys, reversing camera, automatic headlights and wipers, dual zone climate control, pre-collision system, lane departure alert, road sign assistance, bluetooth link to phone with steering wheel controls, automatic high beams and an adaptive cruise control. Not bad for a base model! Hardly poverty-spec.
- Excel – Which has everything from the Icon model, but with 18″ alloys, rear privacy windows, parking assist, heated front seats, rear traffic alert (useful when reversing out of a dodgy parking space), sat nav, upgraded part leather seats and a blind spot monitor.
- Dynamic – Everything from the Icon model, but with it’s own fancy ‘Dynamic’ seats, 18″ alloys different to the Excel’s set and a black roof.
The one I was driving was the Excel, which in my opinion is the one to get as it has everything you need. The lane departure system works well in case you’re knackered and floating too close to another lane, yet it doesn’t go off during an overtake. Speakers are decent, much better than the ones in the GT86 although, almost any speaker system is better than the GT86’s. With the arse end of the car quite high, I was worried that the rear windscreen would be too small, rather like the new A-Class – however the rear visibility is still very good, and the funky reverse detection system and reversing camera works very well.
While I dislike the infotainment screen looking like a tablet PC just wedged in to the centre console, I can see that this is the trend with almost all new family cars. On the flip side, it makes for a very good placement when using it as a sat nav, and the screen vivid and a decent size. For a crossover, the seating position won’t disappoint you – while it’s not a sports car, there are hints of it with the drivers seat complimenting the pedal and steering wheel placements. The seats are super comfy, not just good looking. Toyota have really upped their interior quality recently and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
It goes without saying that with a crossover, it is the love child of different types of cars and as such, there are small compromises; the boot is a ‘nice’ size, though I would have expected a bit more space, and while the rear seats look quite upper class, we return to the legroom issue. If you’re a short-arse like myself, the rear legroom should be adequate, but not everyone has a height deficiency like me. If a taller driver adjusts the seat to their preferred position, the passenger will be able to get in the back – only just. If they are children, they will be fine, if – and it’s A BIG IF – they can reach the outrageously high rear door handles!
Driving over to the location for photos I was able to test out the power of this particular C-HR and it can certainly hold its own on the road. The handling is sharp and the suspension is surprisingly great – comfortable and absorbing any bumps and potholes from the traditional British roads, yet the C-HR feels agile and fun. Like an Aygo post-puberty. To me that’s a huge plus point for Toyota, they’ve hit the nail on the head with the handling.
Having parked the car to get some shots done, many local residents having a walk in the park had a good look at the car. When I asked them what they thought of it, every one of them told me how nice it looked and how they really like the way the interior looked. They didn’t even mind the rear spoiler!
Toyota have built an impressive car and backed with their signature 5 year warranty, the C-HR will give you everything you need including peace of mind. And peace of mind is really what you want when you buy a car like this, because – who will buy it? My guess is people with one child. If you wanted the C-HR but with more boot space, more rear legroom, just more everything – you’d buy the new RAV4. Don’t get me wrong, I like the C-HR, I like it a lot and that’s coming from someone who dislikes crossovers. Toyota are certainly offering you a lot more car for the money – and that can only be a good thing.
Many thanks to Toyota for making this happen!
Toyota C-HR Excel
- Engine: 1.8 litre petrol hybrid automatic
Power: 122 BHP