Toyota gives its hybrid range extra zest with a dramatically styled urban newcomer: the C-HR. We not only liked its shape and contours, we also loved the way it performs and drives, amply proving the vast experience Toyota has gained in building petrol engined hybrids. Just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The C-HR not only excels with its refined hybrid driveline, it also has a host of driving aids which make it a truly contemporary contender. It makes the C-HR delighfully restful and easy to drive, and of course adds safety.
But first we make a tour around the car. The production version of the C-HR retains the shape and styling elements of the earlier show car and all this adds individuality and personality to this urban cruiser. The C-HR hits the mark in its segment, with good proportions from all sides. The body shape also allows to create good interior and luggage space, and its higher stance also makes it quite suitable for (lighter) off road work. Just what the present day consumer wants in this segment.
The interior also breathes the well proportioned modernity of the body. The dashboard is nicely shaped, with a large upright touchscreen standing proudly higher on the centre console, which is not only easy to reach, but offers excellent visibility, and is intuitive to handle and use, of which later more.
All commands are logically placed, and one feels immediately at home in this C-HR.
Rear seat access and space is adequate, the bootlid is rather heavy, but the loading sill is low and offers a volume of liters.
A refined hybrid driveline, setting standards in its class…
Toyota has built many millions of hybrids, and this certainly shows in the CH-R. We are very fond of its perfection, offering very refined progress indeed. Lovely the way it moves smoothly out of the parking place on its electric motor, with the petrol engine setting in o so smoothly when gaining speed. The CVT transmission marries perfectly with the four cylinder engine’s characteristics, revving it up when power is needed, but letting the engine operate in low rev ranges when only gradual acceleration or constant speed cruising is wanted.
The power transition between the electrical and petrol engine is seamless and totally imperceptible, except for the hum of the efficient petrol engine.
This unit has state of the art features: double overhead camshafts, continuously variable valve timing, just to name a few. As said, it will rev up freely when called for heavier duty. It develops 122 HP at 5200 rpm.
Putting your right foot down will let the CH-R sprint from 0 to 100 in merely 11 seconds. The beauty is that any novice driver can achieve these results. Top speed is 170 km/h, and that is totally sufficient in most driving circumstances.
The hybrid setup truly proves its worth when driving anticipation and (some) restraint. The driver has the choice between a normal and an eco mode, and we must admit that for most of our test we kept this eco position. The left dial indicates whether one is driving in the eco or power range, and staying in the eco range rewards you with low revs and noise, utter smoothness and of course very good economy. It was not at all difficult to achieve values around 4,5 liter/100 km and below, and this is what hybrid driving is all about. The official figure for combined consumption in econmy mode is 3,9 liters/100 km.
The CH-R has also a battery-only or EV mode, and this proved priceless in urban traffic and especially in narrow urban streets. We used the CH-R for a trip to charming villages in Dutch Zeeuws Vlaanderen, and there we had to creep through very narrow inner city alleys, and squeeze the CH-R between parked cars and the walls of historic houses. The restful progress of the E-drive was very helpful here, and bystanders and inhabitants also appreciated the pollution-free mobility of course…
Varying speeds and frequent decelerations for roundabouts made us really appreciate the clever architecture and functioning of the hybrid drivetrain, and shows how much thought and ingenuity has gone into the engineering of this car. Radar-assisted cruise control has reached impressive maturity and progressivity in its operation, and the system worked flawless indeed.
Using the cruise control lever is totally intuitive and clever, we liked very much how with every small opward push of the lever the set speed goes up or down with 5 km/h increments, making for smooth, restful progresseve, even at varying speeds.
The CH-R is therefore quite versatile, and is equally marvellous in the city as well as on the open road, and touring with this car is a delight.
A word of praise is also fitting for the navigation and audio system. The navigation system has been further honed and perfected to achieve total user friendliness, and it is very accurate and clear indeed. The audio system comes from JBL no less, and you can imagine that sound quality leaves little to be desired. It features also DAB radio, and you can also play your sound files via the Aux jack or using your USB stick.
In terms of interconnectivity, hooking up your smartphone is of course a breeze.
The finish and the quality of the upholstery materials is impressive, and we liked the finish of the top surfaces of the dashboard and the instrument cluster, with the nicely stitched edges, which give the cabin an up market character.
The vast experience of a world class manufacturer truly tells also in the chassis. It strikes a perfect balance between comfort and predictable handling. It is surefooted, will never surprise you or bring you in difficulties. With its crossover SUV higher ground clearance, it feels also well at home in somewhat accidented terrain and rural roads, and you will steer it with much confedence in snow.
With the CH-R, Toyota has a hit on its hands. Originally aimed at the European market, it proves to be a worldwide success, and deservedly so. Its looks are cool, both out- and inside, propulsion is refined and just what today’s mobility needs, and what mechanical ingenuity and perfection is concerned, it is indeed well ahead of the competition.
With all this comes also the legendary Toyota reliability, the sturdiness, the good serviceability, its high resale value. There is a long waiting list for this car in our country and in most countries over the globe, but your patience will be rewarded…
Hans Knol ten Bensel