Time Well Spent: Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid: 8/10 *Recommended*

Mike Humble:

Toyota have over twenty years experience with the Hybrid drive-line. The Auris may seem a trifle dull to some whereby the Prius can be viewed as cliche and too sci-fi. Well, its time to say hello to something a little funkier and enjoyable – the Toyota C-HR a car I thoroughly enjoyed…

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Even though my personal taste for a car is one that’s rowed along using a wheel, three pedals and a gear lever, I’ll make no excuses for the fact I love a good hybrid. Say what you will about electric, hydrogen or hybrid vehicles… as Peter Kay would say: I’ve tasted it and its the future. Of all the manufacturers that have jumped onto the hybrid bandwagon, it would be fair to state that Toyota have to be the most successful and forward thinking in this area of expertise and technology.

Their recent hybrid offerings which span most of their product range have been well received. They’re a funny bunch those Toyota owners and the brand loyalty towards the marque puts many a premium brand to shame. Not just because the dealers tend to be honest and four square traders, but for the simple reason that I do not know anyone who’s had a bum steer through owning one. The same applies to Honda too but they have blended clever technology with a bit of zest in their styling.

Toyota on the other hand have played safe by offering utterly reliable cars that in the case of the Auris can be seen as utterly dull. The Prius on the other hand makes no bones about its eco nature but to some that can be over powering. One person commented to me on the Prius that its akin to the scene where Sulu is faced with the controls of a Klingon bird of prey in the movie Star Trek 4 – utter confusion at all the graphics, stats and winking neon lights. But for me? I rather like the current Prius.

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Good ergonomics and comfort. Front seats are superb and it drives really well but the steering is lifeless in terms of feel. Switches and controls are well damped and have a solid feel to them in use.
Things have now taken a turn for Toyota. They have now got the C-HR in the portfolio of models and I have admired the looks from day one. You can hardly call it a shrinking violet in terms of its styling and nor could it blend into a crowd of three like the Auris. The car is styled in the current trend like the Juke, Kuga, Mokka X and all the others, but staying with the science fiction theme – its an SUV Jim… but not as we know it. Toyota have cleverly come up with a shape that truly stands out over the rest with this one.

The paint finish and panel gaps all seem top notch with similar praise being worthy inside too though the current trend of some bone hard and scratchy plastic hasn’t completely escaped the C-HR

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Despite the very bold styling inside and out its an easy car to operate. It shouldn’t frighten the wits out of traditional Toyota customers either. Refinement in general is really very good and the ride comfort on normal roads only adds to the enjoyment.
One of the first things that strikes you is just how good the car seems to be put together. Even the badges on the tailgate that always move when you wiggle them on other cars don’t on the Toyota. The paint finish and panel gaps all seem top notch with similar praise being worthy inside too though the current trend of some bone hard and scratchy plastic hasn’t completely escaped the C-HR. Overall the quality is pretty good all round. The nice simple instrument pack looks minimalist on first view but the tablet display and dashboard packs plenty of detail for stat hungry drivers.

There’s mood lighting aplenty too and a wonderful diamond feature in the roof lining above the front seats, one of a raft of nice little design touches which has turned a Toyota from plain into something interesting. Being the Limited Edition model it has dual tone leather seats, intelligent park assist, dual zone climate control and every possible driver / occupant safety abbreviation going. All interior and exterior lighting is LED powered and the beam spread at night was notably impressive without dazzling oncoming traffic.

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I liked the positioning of the read door handle. Some pundits say this is fiddly… I say it isn’t and for me its just another pleasing design touch on a well thought out car.
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Pretty robust build quality overall. Even the self-adhesive badges that usually wobble and eventually come loose on other cars seem to be firmly located and fitted on the C-HR. This may seem trivial but the devil is in the detail and Toyota haven’t left much to chance.
Out on the road I enjoyed the ride comfort and body control in corners. The steering is typically EPAS in feel, or more to the point has a lack of it but it doesn’t require constant fidgeting with the wheel or seem vague when running in a straight line. Operation of the controls are nice to the touch with a nice damped action to the buttons and the bold looking tablet display works well enough without hampering your full ahead view of the road despite what may think before jumping inside.

Overall its a really enjoyable Toyota that’s bold enough to tease new owners into the brand while hopefully not driving away their loyal existing customers

The 1.8 petrol engine runs smoothly enough not to intrude when on level roads, drive up a long steep hill though and it can get vocal in the cabin. That said for 90% of the time the C-HR is very smooth and refined in terms of both noise and comfort – especially when motorway cruising. Performance wise it feels livelier than the official blurb says and when running around town in pure electric mode the refinement is even more notable. There is one thing that you will notice on the move is the bloody terrible rear view.

Rear space isn’t fantastic either, but there again its not a massive car. Legroom is better than the Nissan Juke though and the boot is roomy enough at just under 380 litres when using all the seats. On the plus side you’ll find good connectivity from the infotainment system although the Sat-Nav is a bit clunky and dated in terms of font. But overall its a really enjoyable Toyota that’s bold enough to tease new owners into the brand while hopefully not driving away their loyal existing customers.

AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10

THE HUMBLE OPINION:

“An interesting and funky Toyota? you betcha. For those who are ecologically conscious but don’t want to appear to others as a sandal wearing boring old tit the C-HR may just fit the bill thanks to some nice design and detail touches.

Drives well, is super smooth unless in race mode and has potential to get really impressive fuel return figures too. Reasonably priced with a rock solid 5yr / 100,000 mile warranty there is little to kick in its face but rear space isn’t in abundance.

But for those who have yearned for Toyota reliability but couldn’t stomach the plain Jane and rather dowdy Auris or the slightly cliche Prius, you need to skip along to your local dealer with deposit in hand.

All in all a decent drive that is refreshingly different from the usual SUV herd. In a nutshell… a thoroughly well thought out and impressive alternative to an ever crowded SUV market sector which to some is becoming increasingly boring and same-old in my humble opinion”

Model Tested: Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Limited Edition

Price: £29,995 OTR

Power Unit: 1798cc 16v petrol with 97bhp (naturally aspirated)

Hybrid Unit: Front wheel drive using a 600v 53KW electric motor & NmH battery with power unit and regenerative braking energy pack charging.

Performance: *0 – 60 in 11 seconds with 105mph maximum

Fuel Economy: *72.4mpg combined (59.8mpg on actual test)

Co2 Output: 87g/Km

* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data

WHATS GREAT:

  • Bold and funky styling inside and out
  • You can be an eco warrior without looking like a berk
  • Easy and refined to drive
  • Good ride comfort on decent roads
  • Safe, secure and tidy handling
  • Intelligent information from drive-line via infotainment that isn’t over-bearing
  • Very well equipped
  • Extremely comfortable seats

WHAT GRATES:

  • Rear visibility laughably poor
  • Only two engine options
  • Door card plastic trim feels cost engineered and cheap
  • Totally lifeless steering
  • Engine gets a bit rowdy when you press on
  • Rear legroom limited
  • Sat Nav display looks dated

For further information on the Toyota C-HR range CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 


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