Tales from 500 kms behind the wheel of this compact crossover
Toyota has given its small crossover, the C-HR, a facelift. Somehow Toyota managed to get the futuristic styling lines right without looking like it was a free-for-all over at the drawing desk. It’s aged well too, often cars with distinctive body creases end up feeling the effects of age quickly, the C-HR still looks on point a few years later.
On the front-end, it’s had subtle tweaks that make noticeable visual improvements. First up the black lower section of the grille is gone, now it’s body-coloured. The front bumper is wider, the fog lights have moved upwards and outwards from their previous position and there’s the addition of vertical side air intakes. New are the LED headlamps across the range, previously only available on the range-topping Luxury CVT model. Overall it looks more aggressive on the road, gone is the sci-fi styled mobile that greets with the Trekkie sign, in its place a full-grown car with brains and brawn.
The power unit stays the same, a 1.2-turbocharged petrol engine, producing 85 kW and 185 Nm across the whole range. On launch there was only the Luxury CVT option to pilot, a pity that there was no manual to test though the assumption is this decision was led by the sales numbers showing buyers want two-pedals as opposed to three. Claimed fuel consumption for the Luxury CVT is pegged at 6.4 l/100 km and CO2 emissions come in from 141 – 144 g/km depending on model bought.
Safety features have been upgraded across the range, all models now get curtain, side and driver knee airbags. The top-spec Luxury CVT gets Toyota Safety Sense, which includes hi-tech safety features of Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Lane Change Assist (LCA), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Pre-crash system, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assist, quite a bit has been added to the flagship model.
Across the range, the multimedia system has been upgraded to a larger 8-inch infotainment unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the Plus models upward the multi-info display nestled between the instrument clusters has been upgraded to a larger screen. All models, regardless of spec are equipped with Toyota Connect which includes 15 GB once-off in-car WiFi data, topping up of data is done seamlessly through the MyToyota app.
This wash of new technology is attributed to the debut of a new OEM-sourced multimedia system, allowing Toyota to upgrade all the tech aspects mentioned.
With 500 km to sample how the C-HR drives, it was enough time to sample the important changes Toyota has made. I don’t remember the steering being this good on the previous version of the C-HR, though I never spent as much seat time in it as I have this one. The C-HR feels like it’s cornering on rails, for a crossover it’s connectivity to the road is impressive. This is all down to the fine-tuning that’s been done to the electronic-power steering to improve driving feel. The C-HR Luxury CVT option that was sampled on launch runs on turbine-shaped 18-inch alloy wheels, this too adds to the improved steering feel, more rubber on the road means more feel, and this means a better driving experience.
The Toyota C-HR is quiet for a CVT, when asked Toyota says they’ve done nothing to the gearbox except improve NVH qualities, basically they improved the soundproofing between the engine bay and the cabin. Sport mode is available for when the driver needs an improved response time from the throttle and the ‘gears’ to be held a little longer. Eco mode reduces response and changes ‘gears’ quicker resulting in a more fuel-efficient drive.
I’ve wondered how comfortable the back seats are in a C-HR, it looks cramped from the outside, and whether they’re as claustrophobic as I imagined. I hopped in the back to test out seat comfort for adults and was pleasantly surprised. There is plenty of headroom (even for all 6’0” of me), legroom and the seats are comfortable, new for the rear is seat-belt pre-tensioners keeping occupants even safer than before.
New colours for the C-HR include Inferno Orange and Oxide Bronze metallic hues. The range-topping Luxury CVT is the only model offered with a black roof and different body colour, available options include Passion Red, Nebula Blue and Inferno Orange.
Toyota C-HR 1.2T R 371 700
Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus R 403 000
Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT R 415 100
Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT R 476 600
All C-HR models are sold with a 6-services/90 000 km service plan (intervals set at 15 000 km) and 3-year/100 000km warranty. Customers can also purchase a variety of service and/or warranty add-ons at their local dealership.