First Drive: Toyota C-HR
A new range-topping hybrid plus improvements to styling, quality and infotainment enhance the Toyota C-HR’s fleet proposition, reckons Martyn Collins.
SECTOR C- segment PRICE £25,625-£32,595 FUEL 49.56-58.85 CO2 86-119g/km
In the three years since launch, the Toyota C-HR has carved itself a successful niche in the compact crossover sector. This compact crossover’s mix of sharp styling and hybrid powertrain has seen 14,600 sales in the UK alone – with a significant number of those sales to fleets.
Toyota is hoping for similar success with the facelifted version, which in the carmaker’s words focuses on “refining core values” with a more premium look and feel while also going down the hybrid-only route in the UK; the latest model introduces a new hybrid version and ditches the 1.2-litre petrol still on sale in Europe.
The biggest change to the facelifted model, the new 184hp, 2.0-litre hybrid – first seen in the all-new Corolla – heralds a new range-topping model, sitting above the 122hp 1.8-litre which remains in the line-up and is expected to be the volume seller in the UK.
The C-HR’s increased focus on refinement is also evident. Outside, this brings styling tweaks that complement and freshen up the C-HR’s attractive and unusual shape. There are distinctive new LED headlights and a re-styled front bumper with large grille at the front. A similar treatment for the CH-R at the back includes more LED-lit rear lights, with Audi-style strobing indicators, plus, a new rear bumper with diffuser on 2.0-litre model and a tiny lip spoiler on the boot.
There are also new colours, including Scorched Orange, which is exclusively offered on the range-topping £32,595 Orange Edition, which is limited to just 500 units.
The update also brings a more premium feel to the C-HR’s interior in the form of softer, more European plastics. Particular highlights are the leather-look sewn dashboard top and soft-touch door cards.
Another key improvement is the latest version of Toyota’s infotainment system. It now comes with buttons so it’s easier to navigate, plus for the first time, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility too.
UK range brings Icon, Design, Excel and Dynamic trims on offer. Design trim, priced from £28,005 for the 1.8, is expected to be the key fleet model, with standard equipment including 18-inch alloy wheels, the Toyota Touch navigation system and heated front seats. It also brings NEDC Correlated CO2 emissions from 86g/km (NEDC Correlated) and WLTP combined consumption figures between 49.56-54.32mpg, while for the 2.0-litre hybrid, NEDC Correlated CO2 emissions start from 92g/km.
On the road, the new 2.0-litre is willing performer, as long as you stay within the limits of the CVT transmission, although hard acceleration brings a less refined performance.
The driving position is comfortable for even the tallest, although a little more reach adjustment for the steering column would be welcome. The seats are comfortable and supportive, although space is only just about adequate for tall rear passengers. That curvy roofline eats into rear headroom too, and fitting the bigger 2.0-litre engine has relegated the battery to the boot, robbing it of 20 litres of space, which is a shame.
The steering is precise, but lacks feel. There’s some body roll in corners, but this Toyota is tidy, confident handler with plenty of grip.
Changes to the suspension have seen the ride become even more comfortable, smooth and refined – despite the special Orange Edition launch version which we drove running on 18-inch wheels. But there is some road roar at speed.
The C-HR is expensive, but being a hybrid, the fact that it can run on electric power alone, should equal noticeable savings over a conventional crossover.
Key fleet model: 1.8 Design
Strengths: Looks great, good to drive, low running costs
Weaknesses: Compromised rear legroom and boot space
The Verdict: Welcome improvements to Toyota’s popular compact crossover lead to an appealing mix of refinement, plus tidy and comfortable drive – if you can live with the hybrid powertrain.
FW Rating: 4/5