A show car for everyone?
The designers of the C-HR faced one more challenge. Their concept car not only had to be technically realised and produced at a reasonable cost. This second generation also had to be a worthy successor to the first generation. That first generation owed its success to its distinct design, so to surpass that, the designers had to come up with an even more radical design!
Toyota has therefore opted for even sharper lines, a distinctly muscular rear end, a coupé roofline and two-tone paintwork. In addition, much more work has been done on the details than before. Thus, not only shapes have been considered, but also materials and patterns. For example, the octagon of the grille is reflected even in the smallest grilles. A vibrant colour best suits this extravagant design. The red paint shown here was previously available only on the GR-Sport and now on all versions of the C-HR. The car shown here has a black roof. However, the C-HR also comes with black rear, which makes for a more extravagant look.
Toyota has asked customers and they indicate that the interior actually needs to be less pronounced. Therefore, the dashboard follows Toyota's house style, with only a few exceptions. Explicit ambient lighting was chosen because it is also used functionally. For instance, the lighting turns blue when the air conditioning is switched on because that reinforces the idea of cooling. Conversely, the light strip in the door can flash red when there is an obstacle next to the car while trying to open the door.
Much more than before, Toyota applies recycled materials. For example, the seats and floor mats are made from old PET bottles. To avoid contamination, plastic is produced directly in the desired colour so it does not have to be painted later. When leather is chosen, it is always vegan leather. This last choice alone reduces CO2 emissions during production by 78%!
The space in the front is good, even with the optional sunroof. Because the C-HR is midway between an SUV and a hatchback, seating is higher than in a typical car, but lower than in an off-road vehicle. The bonnet is clearly visible from the driver's seat. Despite the unusual design, visibility is therefore good.
When a tall driver sits in the front, just enough remains in the back for another tall adult. Because of the sloping roofline, headroom in the rear is noticeably less than in the front, though. Despite its many technical similarities, the Corolla Cross offers more room in the back and the larger glass area also gives a greater feeling of space.
The equipment is unremarkable. The C-HR offers everything that can be expected from a modern car in this segment, but nothing more than that. When opting for a luxury version, the C-HR is up to date with an electrically operated tailgate, head-up display, creditable-sounding JBL audio system and digital interior mirror. The latter's camera, however, uses a wide-angle lens and is mounted unusually low on the car, sometimes making rear traffic appear to be in the back seat! The advantage of the interior mirror with camera is that it does not glare in the dark.
Toyota proudly states that safety is never skimped on and that all safety features are standard, but that sounds nicer than it is. In fact, all safety features on the base model are mandatory in the EU from 2024, and only from the more expensive versions does Toyota offer more than the legally required features.
As with other new cars, the "driver assistants" are very meddlesome and already sound a warning at the slightest carelessness. This can only be switched off deep in a menu full of cryptic abbreviations (via buttons on the steering wheel) and is all automatically switched back on when the car is restarted (legal requirement).
Toyota makes a clear distinction between conventional and all-electric cars. The latter have the term "BZ" (beyond zero) in the name. C-HR stands for "coupé high rider" and does not hint at electric drive. Under the bonnet is the latest generation of Toyota's hybrid powertrain. That's your choice of a 1.8-litre hybrid (140 hp) a 2.0-litre hybrid (180 hp) or, entirely new for the C-HR, a plug-in hybrid.
For this test, the 1.8-litre hybrid was driven. It offers exactly what can be expected from a hybrid: not the quietness, performance or price advantage of an all-electric car, but a huge step up from a conventional internal combustion engine.
In addition, Toyota continues to improve hybrid technology. Compared to Toyota's previous generation of hybrids, the C-HR has a battery that is lighter yet has more capacity. The electric motor and its control unit are smaller, lighter and more powerful than before. Together with the "stronger" battery, this means more frequent and longer electric driving. This not only makes for noticeably more peace of mind, it also makes it easier to drive economically.
As with any hybrid, kinetic energy is converted into electricity as soon as the accelerator is released. To prevent the driver from braking unnecessarily, and thus energy would be lost, the C-HR automatically recovers extra energy when cornering or in complex traffic situations (based on the sat nav map data). This certainly contributes to lower fuel consumption, but does not always go smoothly. It is less comfortable for passengers, who think the driver is playing with the brake unnecessarily.
The promising looks suggest exceptional handling. As with the previous C-HR, Toyota does not opt for the eagerness or aggression of a sports car. Toyota has by means of a larger track width, lighter build and an advanced suspension, achieved a more capable behaviour. And it shows! When driven quickly, the C-HR is lively and when the limit is reached it announces itself clearly, so the driver never goes too far.
When driving calmly, it is noticeable how nicely all the components are balanced with each other. This is at least as satisfying as driving the C-HR fast. Although this second generation of the C-HR is 3 cm shorter than the previous one, the new generation feels bigger and more solid. Together with the torque strong hybrid engine and the agility of the new suspension, it gives the privileged feeling that comes with a car like this.
Is the second generation of the Toyota C-HR a show car for everyone? Within reason, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes". After all, the C-HR is all about looks. And the design, with its distinct lines, attention to detail and unusual colours, does not disappoint.
The technology is nothing special, but with different software and unique fine-tuning, the C-HR does drive differently from other Toyota models that use the same components. The hybrid drive makes the C-HR quieter, more fuel-efficient and smoother than a car with a standard petrol engine. This is why the C-HR is special to look at, good value, easy to drive and suitable for everyone.
- Distinctive design
- Excellent driving characteristics
- Quiet, smooth and relatively economical
- Moderate headroom in the rear
- No more economical than an all-electric car
- Annoying, belittling and intrusive safety features (required by law)