Carzone drives Toyota's exciting compact SUV on Irish roads
Pros: Concept car styling, superb specification, futuristic interior
Cons: More practical rivals, no diesel engine choice
With its futuristic styling and a technology-rich cabin, the C-HR marks a bold and exciting new move for Toyota, who have traditionally played it safe in the styling stakes in the past. The C-HR certainly stands out on the road and it’s probably the most recognisable car in the compact SUV class, but is this at the cost of everyday practicality? We spent a week with the new C-HR on Irish roads to see how well it is suited to driving here.
What is it like?
Love it or hate it, the C-HR stands out from the crowd and is easily one of the most recognisable compact SUVs on sale right now. With large swooping headlights, high windows and a carved roofline, the C-HR mixes SUV looks with concept car lines for a striking design. It looks great in all colours and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. The C-HR’s sharp lines and small windows impact on visibility when parking, but a standard reversing camera offsets this to some extent.
Those impressed with the C-HR’s futuristic exterior are likely to enjoy the cabin too. The dashboard leans towards the driver for a sporty feel and is clearly laid out with a cleanly designed centre console, which features a vibrant 4.2-inch touchscreen system. Up front it’s easy to get comfortable in the supportive seats and there's plenty of headroom, but space in the rear is limited for taller adults and it’s quite dark due to the small rear windows. Most of the multimedia functions can be controlled through steering-mounted controls on the three spoke leather steering wheel, while boot space at 377 litre is reasonable but lags some of its larger rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai.
Interestingly the C-HR isn’t available with a diesel engine, but there is the option of either a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine or a larger 1.8-litre petrol and electric hybrid. We drove the 1.2-litre petrol which is the engine featured on base models, and it’s livelier than you’d expect with the choice of either a six-speed manual or fully automatic transmission. The 1.2 has a power output of 116bhp and a top speed of 190km/h, so it's powerful enough for most occasions and can cover 0-100km/h in less than 11 seconds. The hybrid-powered C-HR is a more economical choice and offers similar performance with lower running costs and extra technology. Out on the road, the 1.2 is capable at motorway speeds, but is better suited to an urban environment. We managed 7 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy (40MPG) while annual road tax is €280.
Out on the road, the C-HR drives confidently, especially for a crossover-style car. The ride height isn't as high as some of the other cars in the class which is one of the main reasons for its sprightly handling, but it still offers a commanding view of the road with reassuringly-smooth ride quality. It’s evident that Toyota has worked hard to make the C-HR fun to drive and the light and revvy petrol engines are a perfect match for the platform.
In Ireland, prices for the new Toyota C-HR start from €26,895 for the base specification Luna model, which means it sits at the higher end of the price scale in the compact SUV class. That said, the level of specification is excellent, with 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure steering control and a host of other modern features all standard fit. Our Sol specification test car is the highest specification model on the market, with the additional large 18-inch alloy wheels, intelligent parking assist and Toyota’s Touch 2 go navigation system being the key highlights.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The compact SUV segment is brimming with a seemingly endless amount of models to choose from, but the C-HR stands out from the rest thanks to its futuristic styling, tech-rich interior and a superb level of standard specification. These are all strengths which will likely draw interest from a younger audience, however it falls slightly short in terms of practicality with a small boot and passenger room in the rear could be better. That said, the C-HR marks a significant step forward for Toyota in terms of design and technology at a reasonable price point, and for that reason we expect it to become a popular sight on Irish roads in the next 12 months.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Toyota C-HR Sol
Prices from: €26,895
Price as tested: €30,950
Annual Road Tax: €280
Engine: 1197cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Top Speed: 190km/h
0-100km/h: 10.9 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 377 litres