The compact Toyota C-HR crossover offers daring design, hybrid drive and decent handling

The European small SUV segment has exploded in the last few years, and Toyota has launched the C-HR to steal more sales from its rivals. It's designed the new C-HR with Europe in mind, which is why Toyota has taken a radical new styling direction compared to its other offerings. 

Under the skin it uses the Toyota New Global Architecture which delivers composed handling and a comfortable ride, while the choice of a punchy turbo petrol or frugal hybrid means everyone is catered for, but the former is definitely more fun to drive.

Crucially for this image conscious class, Toyota has worked hard to deliver a distinctive interior. There are plenty of high-grade materials, and a decent tally of kit, while the layout is good and features plenty of bright colours. The small back windows do make the rear claustrophobic, however. 

Smartly styled, good to drive, practical and featuring a classy cabin, the C-HR is a tempting alternative to more mainstream crossover models.

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Toyota C-HR 1.2T 2WD manual Excel

The Toyota C-HR is the latest addition to Toyota's crossover line-up, a range that was spearheaded by the RAV4 when it first launched in 1994. While the RAV4 has grown in size and maturity over the years, the C-HR aims to inject some style into the line-up. C-HR stands for 'Coupe-High Rider', and the car's styling mixes chunky crossover lines with a low-slung roofline like a coupe.

But while the looks are sporty, the C-HR is actually pretty versatile, and it rivals the very best crossovers, such as the SEAT Ateca, Skoda Karoq, Peugeot 3008, Honda HR-V and Nissan Qashqai. There's decent space inside, yet the car's looks give it an individual look that helps it stand out in the class.

Even under the skin, the C-HR isn't entirely conventional. Power comes from either a 1.2T 115hp turbocharged petrol engine, or Toyota's 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid system from the Prius (the C-HR is built on the same platform) is also offered as a fuel-efficient alternative to diesel power. The 1.2T has a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard, but can be had with an auto box and AWD for extra cost. The hybrid features a CVT auto as standard, as this controls power flow between the petrol engine, electric motor, battery pack and wheels, and is front-wheel drive only.

Electric Toyota C-HR revealed at the Beijing Motor Show

Four trims are available on the C-HR: Icon, Design, Excel and Dynamic, while special editions such as the Red Edition are offered with specially packaged options. Thankfully, you don't have to splash out on a higher spec C-HR to get lots of kit.

Sharp handling, a comfortable ride and decent refinement mean the C-HR is surprisingly good to drive
The hybrid model looks good on paper, with strong claimed efficiency and low emissions
Bold exterior styling and upmarket interior help the C-HR shake off Toyota’s dowdy image
More space than coupe styling would first suggest, but still not as practical as some of its conventional rivals
Toyota has strong reputation for building durable cars, while the brand’s Safety Sense kit adds extra peace of mind

Icon trim comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, dual-zone air conditioning, an eight-inch m display, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights and a 4.2-inch multi-information display for the driver. Toyota Safety Sense, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, road sign assist and pre-collision alert, is standard across the range, too.

Most Far Eastern car makers offer their cars with limited options - if you want more kit, you have to spend more on a higher trim level - but the C-HR has a variety of packs that allow you to personalise your car with extra kit or different looks. Prices for the C-HR start from around £22,000 and rise to just over £29,000, which is competitive in the compact crossover class.

Last updated: 
24 Aug, 2018