Publication date: 13 March 2024
Toyota C-HR PHEV

Toyota C-HR PHEV

More punch with a plug

Review - The C-HR is a family car that looks like a show car. It is as if a futuristic design for a car show has been put into production without any changes. Still, to make the C-HR a sensible choice, hybrid drive is standard. Now the C-HR is also available with plug-in hybrid drive. Does that make the C-HR even more sensible?

This second generation of the C-HR has been designed from the ground up as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Therefore, the batteries can be built into the floor and the appearance of the standard hybrid and plug-in hybrid does not differ. Each C-HR has an angular design with sharp lines, lots of metal and relatively little glass area. When opting for the two-tone variant (the second colour is always black), the look becomes even stronger.

Toyota C-HR PHEV

Space and equipment

The interior is less extravagant and follows Toyota's house style with only minimal changes. With the C-HR, form always comes before function. Nevertheless, space in the front is good. The space in the rear depends heavily on the leniency of the driver and co-driver.

Equipment is standard for a car in this price range. The optional audio system from JBL sounds decent, but is definitely not a hi-fi system. As the C-HR has no rear windscreen wiper, the digital interior mirror is a reasonable alternative.

Toyota C-HR PHEV
Toyota C-HR PHEV

Toyota presents its many safety systems as something unique to this class, while many of these features will be made mandatory by the European Union from 2024. Unfortunately, these meddling systems can only be switched off by using buttons on the steering wheel to dive deep into menus full of technical terms and inexplicable abbreviations.

Plug-in hybrid

As standard, the C-HR comes as a hybrid. During braking and coasting, kinetic energy that would normally be wasted is converted into electricity. A small electric motor utilises that free electricity to assist when the petrol engine has to work hard. This makes the car stronger, more fuel-efficient and comfortable. Moreover, a standard hybrid can drive fully electric for very short distances (1 to 2 kilometres), such as in traffic jams.

A plug-in hybrid (also known as "PHEV" for "Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle") has a larger-capacity battery and not only recovers energy while driving, but can also be charged with a plug (at a public charging point, via a home charger or at the wall socket at home). The electric motor is also stronger. Therefore, more energy can be recovered during driving and electric driving can be done more often and for longer.

Toyota C-HR PHEV

With the push of a button, the driver can choose hybrid mode (electric motor assistance only) or electric mode. According to Toyota, in the latter, the C-HR can travel 66 km all-electric. During the test drive, this was 54 km. However, the wisest thing to do is to opt for the automatic mode. By entering the destination in the navigation system, the computer determines where to drive electric and where to drive on the petrol engine for the best mileage.

Those who mainly travel short distances and consistently charges every 54 km can achieve zero consumption. If not charged at every opportunity, all the technology of the plug-in hybrid powertrain is merely ballast and then consumption will atcually increase. Efficient plug-in hybrid driving therefore requires more planning than driving a standard hybrid or electric car. Test consumption through a hilly landscape under moderate weather conditions was 3.7 litres of petrol per 100 km with electricity consumption of 15 kWh per 100 km. Both are good values for a car of this size and power.

Toyota C-HR PHEV

During the test drive, it was striking how smoothly the C-HR switches from one engine to another. With some plug-in hybrids, switching back to the petrol engine feels like a step down, but in the C-HR PHEV, the throttle response and  quietness are the same. At the same time, in electric mode, the C-HR manages to closely approximate the character of aa true electric car. Many PHEVs have a traditional gearbox and therefore in electric mode, shifting can still be felt. The C-HR, on the other hand, has a continuously variable transmission and therefore this PHEV seems to have one long gear, just like an electric car. There are three levels to choose how much energy is recovered, and thus how much the speed decreases when the throttle is released. This effect is much stronger than in the standard C-HR, and in this, too, the plug-in hybrid mimics the character of a fully electric car.

The C-HR PHEV's battery and powertrain are from the Toyota Prius. However, the battery casing has been modified to fit the C-HR. And. the software has been modified to appeal more to the European buyer. Partly for this reason, the C-HR plug-in hybrid has a downright lively character. Torque from the electric motor is readily available and thanks to the combined power of 223 hp / 190 Nm, the C-HR is more than smooth. That applies not only to the sprint from standstill, but also to intermediate acceleration on the motorway.


To curb the increased power, the PHEV has been fitted with larger brake discs (17-inch) and a modified suspension. The character of the shock absorbers depends on the frequency of bumps. Although this by no means always has the desired effect, the C-HR PHEV is alert and dynamic in the city and, on the contrary, comfortable on the country roads.

Toyota C-HR PHEV


Is the Toyota C-HR with plug-in hybrid drive any wiser than the version with standard hybrid drive? Only if the driver plans each drive carefully and charges consistently. However, that applies to any plug-in hybrid, so no test drive was required to reach that conclusion.

What the test drive of the C-HR PHEV taught us is that this powertrain makes the car more fun to drive. In electric mode, the C-HR PHEV approximates the character of an all-electric car with excellent performance, ultimate smoothness (with no interruption from gearshifts!) and single-pedal driving. In this, the C-HR goes further than other plug-in hybrids.

Compared to the standard C-HR, performance has increased. Much more importantly, thanks to the stronger electric motor, the plug-in hybrid is always more alert and decisive. The modified suspension makes the C-HR PHEV noticeably more dynamic, for greater driving pleasure.

  • Smooth and lively
  • Distinctive design
  • Real added value over standard hybrid
  • No rear window wiper
  • Moderate headroom in the rear
  • Obnoxious, belittling and intrusive safety features (required by law)