A coupe-high rider (CH-R) sounds like an oxymoron and is theoretically something shouldn’t work. Yet, with the Toyota C-HR, it somehow does. Toyota has successfully managed to combine a coupe and an SUV together into one vehicle with stunning results. Visually, the C-HR is arguably one of the most radical and striking cars that Toyota has ever produced. Its distinctive diamond-esque design makes it a rock solid choice in the looks category. But beyond the aesthetics, the real treasure lies with the vast improvements that have been made to its other, functional areas – particularly those that Toyota has traditionally neglected. The C-HR is no doubt a hidden gem in the midst of its more conventional counterparts.
The C-HR’s aggressive styling, with the use of clean lines and sharp angles all over the body makes it look sleek, hard and even intimidating. Other design features contributing to this hardened image include the long and narrow front headlights, the Z-shaped daytime running lights, the huge wheel arches, protruding rear and boomerang-shaped rear lights.
To accommodate the coupe part of the car into the design, Toyota has cleverly employed a two-tone paint job on the luxury model, with the roof painted a different colour from the main body. However, the roof’s paint colour extends into part of the car’s body, sloping downwards, giving the CH-R a coupe-like, downward sloping rear, even while the roof still remains relatively straight.
It is uncommon for Toyota to deviate so much from their traditionally conservative designs, so this new look on the C-HR will more than likely be divisive among customers. However, for all the old-school fans out there, there is much traditional convention still to be found in the C-HR. For starters, as a mini SUV, it is just about the right size, measuring 4360mm long, 1795mm wide and 1565mm high. Its wheelbase measure comes in at an extremely respectable 2640mm, indicating that there is still quite a lot of space in the cabin. Lastly, the C-HR retains the front-engined, front-wheel drive layout found in almost all Toyotas, astutely playing to Toyota’s traditional strengths of lightness and fuel economy.
In the cabin, Toyota has continued with the diamond motif in the interior as well. It can be found all around – in the interior trim, on the ceiling and even behind the seat belts. Build quality and refinement have also improved dramatically, as the materials used seem to be a notch better than the usual. Between the combination of denser metals, better plastics and soft-touch materials sprinkled throughout the cabin, the interior boasts a much more premium feel as compared to other Toyotas. While the lack of luxury materials such as leather may still leave a little to be desired, the C-HR is anything but average when it comes to the aesthetics department.
When it comes to the equipment, Toyota’s inherent commitment to comfort and simplicity shines through. Everything is ergonomic and easily accessible, yet there are no compromises with its sense of quality. The multi-information display and controls are all within reach and view for the driver. The touchscreen is extremely responsive and the buttons on the centre console all feel extremely well put together.
Space-wise, a 2640mm wheelbase makes the cabin large enough to seat 4 adults comfortably, with ample legroom. While coupes generally have issues with rear headroom because of the sloping roof, that is no longer a problem in the C-HR as the roofline maintains a relative flatness.
The main issues from the interior stem from the tiny rear window, an inevitable compromise with the coupe-shaped design, which can make the passengers feel claustrophobic. Furthermore, the boot space, while measuring a respectable 316 litres, falls short of what its competitors offer. Nevertheless, these are small nitpicks in the grand scheme of things, as it is clear that Toyota has improved massively on their traditional weak spots.
The C-HR is powered by a 1.2L, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine that produces 114bhp and 185Nm of torque, and is paired with a 7-speed CVT transmission. Together, this gives the C-HR a top speed of 185km/h and a 0-100 acceleration time of 11.1s.
Obviously, a 1.2L turbocharged engine is tiny by modern standards, and with it powering an SUV weighs 1440kg? Let’s just say that the C-HR isn’t going to win races anytime soon. Despite this, it never feels lacking on the road. The power delivery is smooth and punchy, especially when the turbo spools up, so the car always feels ready to get a move on when you feel like it. The best part about the engine, however, is that it sounds extremely quiet, which is a huge plus. As an added bonus, thanks to a small, turbocharged engine, the C-HR is extremely economical for an SUV, with a fuel consumption figure of only 15.6km/L.
Handling-wise, the C-HR does brilliantly for an SUV. Traditionally, SUVs handle more like boats, with lots of body roll around corners. Further keeping along the lines of tradition, Toyotas generally have poor steering feel because they are usually pretty light. The C-HR has none of these issues. Thanks to the well-sorted suspension, there is minimal body roll when cornering, and the C-HR feels extremely agile and nimble around the corners. The steering has also improved dramatically, as there is a lot more steering feel thanks to it being heavier, which gives the driver a lot more confidence when steering. Finally, braking is also extremely responsive – a feature attributable to the C-HR’s disc brakes on all 4 wheels.
Toyota has always been extremely conscious about safety, and the C-HR is no exception. For starters, there are 7 airbags in the car, as well as the standard anti-lock brakes, vehicular stability control system and hill-start assistance. Other useful features include blind spot monitors, a reverse camera as well as front and rear clearance sensors.
On top of the standard features, the C-HR also comes with the new Toyota Safety Sense P Package. This equips the C-HR with a pre-collision detection system, adaptive high beams, lane departure alert and dynamic cruise control. All in all, an extremely comprehensive safety package. These safety features have earned the C-HR a 5-star safety rating from the Euro Ncap safety testers.
One flaw, however, is that blind spots are hard to check manually, as the view is blocked by the car’s thick C-pillar which makes the windows a lot smaller. This is mitigated by the blind spot monitoring system, though there will be an awful lot of dependence on it.
The active C-HR comes equipped with a chock full of fancy features as standard, with halogen automatic headlamps, daytime running lights, front fog lamps, auto-retractable wing mirrors, acoustic glass, a 4.2 inch multi-information display, electrochromatic rearview mirrors, multi-function steering wheel, air purification as well as climate control.
The luxury C-HR has even more goodies for that extra satisfaction, including LED automatic headlamps, smart entry, auto-levelling headlamps, sequential turn signals, navigation, leather seats, front lumbar support and a stop-start system.
The basic C-HR is currently priced at $121,888 (as of December 2019), with the luxury version costing another $15,000 more. This makes it a lot more expensive than the Honda HR-V and slightly more expensive than a 2.0L Nissan Qashqai. Nevertheless, there are compelling reasons why one would choose it over the other 2. For one, it is way better looking than its rather drab-looking competitors. Performance levels are similar, but the C-HR also drives much better than the Nissan and offers more safety features than the Honda. But perhaps most importantly, this is one gem of a Toyota that has retained all of its strengths, improved upon most if not all of its weaknesses, and it drives delectably well. So, if you are a loyal Toyota customer (and even if you aren’t), what more can you really ask for?
|What we like|
| - Sporty and unique design |
- Extremely well-built and solid car
- Good fuel consumption rate at 15.6 km/litre despite the heavier weight
|What we do not like|
|- Obstruction by C Pillar when checking blind spots|
|The Toyota C-HR is a great overall car. It is suitable even for small families. Built with solidness in mind, the C-HR allows a balance of performance and comfort though the price may be on the slightly higher side.|
Toyota CH-R 1.2L Turbo
4360mm x 1795mm x 1565mm (L x W x H)
Specifications and Performance
Toyota CH-R 1.2L Turbo
1.2L turbocharged, 4-cylinder in-line 16 valve
McPherson Strut/Double Wishbone Beam
Toyota CH-R 1.2L Turbo
Toyota Safety Sense P Package
Vehicular Stability Control
Toyota CH-R 1.2L Turbo (Active)
Toyota CH-R 1.2L Turbo (Luxury)
Daytime Running Lights
Front Fog Lamps
Auto-retractable Wing Mirrors with Built-in Signal Lamps
Aero Stabilising Fins
Sequential Turn Signals
Smart Entry System
4.2-inch Multi-Information Display
Electrochromatic Rearview Mirrors
Multifunction Steering Wheel
Nano-E Air Purification
Automatic Rain-Sensing Wipers
Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control
Toyota Telematics System
Yes, with navigation
Front Lumbar Support
Smart Start System