Toyota’s big entry in compact market

2017 Toyota C-HR
2017 Toyota C-HR

Big entry in compact market

TOYOTA’S C-HR is designed to compete in the compact SUV segment, up against the likes of the Honda HRV, Mazda CX-3 and the Nissan Juke.

The segment is a relatively new, but tough one.

As such, Toyota has pulled out all stops to snag its own chunk of the market.

The C-HR is powered by an all-new 1.2-litre turbo-charged engine, a class-crushing amount of standard equipment, excellent build quality, and wild styling inside and out.

The C-HR range is relatively simple. There’s the base C-HR and the more stylish and generously equipped C-HR Koba.

All are powered by the aforementioned 1.2-litre engine, which is mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-step continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power is sent to the front or all four wheels.

The range starts with the C-HR front-wheel drive manual, priced from $26,990, and stretches all the way to the Koba CVT all-wheel drive, which has a sticker price of $35,290.

We tested the C-HR CVT front-wheel drive, which retails at $28,990.

A high level of standard equipment is one of the C-HR’s key party tricks. The amount of stuff you get for under $30k is pretty damn incredible.

There’s blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, a heap of airbags – including a driver’s knee airbag – and lots more.

The 1.2-litre turbo engine chucks out 85kW and 185Nm. Not the sort of power and torque that’ll ruin your face with g-forces, but the C-HR gets along confidently enough. Rolling acceleration is more than adequate thanks to that broad power band and the engine is refined and relatively quiet.

The CVT keeps it on the boil too. Interestingly for a car targeted at younger customers, flappy paddles aren’t available.

Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.4 litres/100km but we found 8.5 to be closer to the mark. It is worth noting that the engine has an appetite for premium unleaded petrol too.

Handling is decent. The C-HR turns in well, giving reasonable feedback through the steering wheel. Body roll is kept in check and ride quality is plush without feeling flaccid.

It dares to be different and adds some much needed ‘wow!’ factor to the Toyota range.

The interior is an ergonomic delight. All the main controls are angled towards the driver and the driver can reach for pretty much anything without taking their eyes off the road. Voice control is standard, too.

All the switchgear is bespoke, and all interior materials of a high calibre, adding to the premium feeling.

The seats are soft, comfortable and supportive, making the C-HR the ideal companion on road trips. Rear visibility isn’t that great, but it does have a reversing camera as standard

The boot has a large surface area, but a low luggage cover means that you are quite limited as to what you can carry.

Verdict: Buy one if you’re feeling bold. We haven’t been this excited about a Toyota since the 86 was launched.