Expert Reviews

First drive: Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Friday 18 November 2016

First drive: Toyota C-HR Hybrid

Recently, hybrid vehicles are what Toyota has become known for. Nearly all of its cars – the GT86 sports coupe and Aygo city car aside – are offered as a hybrid. With the new C-HR crossover, this trend continues.

Everything on the C-HR is practically new, apart from the hybrid powertrain. The new crossover sits below the Rav4 in the manufacturer’s line-up, placing it toe to toe with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X and Skoda Yeti – all of which sit somewhere between B-segment SUVs such as the Nissan Juke and larger vehicles such as the Renault Kadjar.

Where the C-HR stands out is with its range of engines. Diesels have been binned, replaced by a rather fiddly, yet eco-friendly hybrid. Certainly a bold move, but given the public’s current attitude towards diesel, perhaps a rather wise one.

Looks & Image

The C-HR is a rather eye-catching thing, although it might not appeal to absolutely everyone. Its silhouette is easy on the eyes, thanks to a roofline similar to that of a coupe, along with a squat, sporty stance.

However, thanks to an abundance of curves, sharp lines and creases, the C-HR does look a dash over-styled from some angles. The front end of the car is fairly attractive, but we just can’t bring ourselves to like the back end.

The car’s interior won’t cause many qualms, thanks to solid build quality and the decent standard of plastics used throughout the cabin. The dashboard boasts strong horizontal lines, and the central touchscreen attracts most of your attention. There is also an eye-catching blue strip that travels across the cabin.

Space & Practicality

In terms of practicality, the C-HR just about makes the cut. While there is more space in the back than the car’s coupe-style rear might suggest, taller passengers may find legroom rather restricted, especially if the driver is of a lofty disposition.

Visibility from the second row of seats isn’t great, either, thanks to thick C-pillars and door frames that lend a dark, dingy and cramped feeling to the car.

Because of some clever design work, the C-HR Hybrid’s boot boasts the same amount of storage capacity as the petrol-powered car. However, with only 377 litres on offer, it isn’t the most spacious car in the segment. Honda’s HR-V manages a 448-litre boot, while the Skoda Yeti offers 416 litres.

Behind the Wheel

The C-HR has its work cut out for it in this regard, too, considering there are a couple of rather deft crossovers on the market, including the 500X, Yeti and HR-V.

Thankfully, the C-HR doesn’t disappoint. Through the corners the body stays flat, and while the steering is a little lacking in terms of feedback, it feels solid and well weighted. It responds sharply, too, making driving down a windy road that much more entertaining.

The C-HR is also a pretty comfortable car to travel in. While we haven’t yet driven it in the UK, on Spanish roads it offered a pliant ride at all speeds.

The only niggle we had with it was the hybrid powertrain. Even though it uses a 1.8-litre petrol engine and an electric motor – which provides instant torque – it didn’t feel as quick off the mark as you might expect it to be. It’s also rather noisy under hard acceleration.

This is redeemed, however, by its relative efficiency. It produces 87 grams of CO2 per kilometre and has a claimed economy figure of 72.4mpg.

Value for Money

Let’s not beat around the bush: the C-HR Hybrid is a rather expensive car. Coming in at £23,595, it commands a £2,600 premium over the petrol version, and is also more expensive than a Ford Focus ST.

Toyota does throw in plenty of kit as standard, though. Your money buys you two-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys and the Touch2 infotainment system.

Forking out an additional £2,900 for the Excel variant will get you leather-upholstered, heated seats as well as satellite navigation, privacy glass, parking sensors and 18-inch alloys.

Cars in the top-of-the-range Dynamic trim will set you back £27,995, although you do gain two-tone metallic paint, LED headlights and a bespoke upholstery fabric.

Who would buy one ?

It’s likely that the C-HR Hybrid market will consist largely of company car drivers who are attracted to its low CO2 emissions, as well as people who live in urban centres and want a small, economic runabout with larger SUV looks.

Striking looks, solid build quality and dapper handling mean the C-HR is a serious contender in this market segment, although it is slightly let down by the Hybrid’s weaknesses.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Toyota C-HR Hybrid Excel

Engine: 1.8-litre petrol with electric motor (120bhp)

Transmission: System of planetary gears (E-CVT)

Performance: 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds, 105mph top speed

Economy: 72.4mpg (combined)

Emissions: 87g/km CO2

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