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Toyota C-HR

What is the Toyota C-HR?

The Toyota C-HR is a compact crossover SUV with a difference. As with most Toyotas it’s available as a self-charging hybrid – but unlike most Toyotas this is a style-led vehicle that’s genuinely good to drive.

The name C-HR stands for Coupe – High Rider, and indeed, it has both the roofline and the stance to match that claim. Rival models include the Volkswagen T-Roc, MINI Countryman, Audi Q2 and Mazda CX-3.

That said, it also makes for a funkier alternative to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga (if you can live with a little less space), and as an ideal next-step vehicle for people who have grown out of the similarly proportioned Nissan Juke.

The Toyota C-HR was the overall Parkers Car of the Year 2018.

At-a-glance 2019 Toyota C-HR specs

  • Top speed: 105-118mph
  • 0-62mph: 10.9-11.4 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 34.4-57.6mpg
  • Emissions: 86-152g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 377-1,070 litres

Which versions of the Toyota C-HR are available?

The C-HR only comes in the one body style – a small, five-door, coupe-ish SUV – and has a choice of just two powertrains. But it is available in quite a wide range of colour and trim combinations, in an effort to attract fashion-conscious buyers interested in personalisation.

The engine choices are a 1.2-litre turbo petrol with 116hp and a 1.8-litre non-turbo petrol-electric hybrid with 122hp.

The 1.2-litre engine comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, or a CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) automatic and four-wheel drive; the hybrid is a front-wheel drive CVT only.

The hybrid is great around town, the 1.2 manual more fun on the open road.

Toyota C-HR styling and engineering

Considering the C-HR is a Toyota, the styling is remarkably fresh and eye-catching, with lots of dramatic curves and interesting colour contrasts (substitute ‘interesting’ for ‘garish’ in the case of some of the options packs).

The hidden rear door handles keep up the coupe charade, the actual rear door opening and the sculpted roof line mean that backseat practicality is a little limited.

It’s not actually cramped per se, but getting in and out is trickier than in a conventional family car, while the small, high-set windows make it feel claustrophobic back there. The boot isn’t overly practical, either. That’s the price you pay for style.

Up front, however, there’s plenty of room, and an ultra-modern dashboard design that also doesn’t shy-away from unusual colour choices. The repeated diamond motif is a nice individual touch as well.

Under the skin, the C-HR is based on the same TNGA-C platform as the contemporary Toyota Prius and 2019 Corolla, as well as the Lexus UX.

The engineering sign-off was carried out entirely in Europe for the C-HR, however, rather than Japan, and this has resulted in a particularly impressive driving experience.

Is the Toyota C-HR good to drive?

There are no previous generations of Toyota C-HR.

Toyota’s only earlier attempt to build a compact crossover was called the Urban Cruiser, a car so bland it sunk without a trace.

While Toyotas are always perfectly capable, until recently (and with the exception of sports cars such as the GT86) it’s been rare for them to actually be good to drive.

The C-HR has been a major part of a step-change in approach to this area of the Toyota ownership experience.

Entirely developed in Europe, using critical components such as suspension shock absorbers supplied by European manufacturers, the C-HR is living proof that Toyota can build a car that’s properly sorted from behind the wheel.

Although it’s not particularly fast, everything from the steering feel to the way it controls itself in corners is immensely well sorted here, creating a real sense of togetherness that’s rare in any class, let alone high-riding crossovers.

The 1.2 turbo is particularly enjoyable in manual gearbox front-wheel drive form – it’s the lightest C-HR and it changes direction with even greater keenness – but even the CVT hybrid delivers enjoyment here.

How much does the Toyota C-HR cost?

The C-HR is not a cheap car. While you get plenty of standard equipment across the range, the list prices reflect this, rather than instilling you with an impression of amazing value.

Similarly, you’ll find many rivals are much more cost effective on finance.

Want to find out what other buyers think? Read our comprehensive Toyota C-HR owner’s reviews.

Toyota C-HR Model History

Current generation Toyota C-HR model history

November 2016 - C-HR goes on sale with three trim levels: Icon, Excel and Dynamic. There were two automatic versions - a hybrid and a turbocharged petrol - and the latter could be ordered with a manual gearbox too.
April 2017 - Limited Edition model introduced. Only 100 units and hybrid-only, this top-spec trim featured two-tone paint, 18-inch alloys, a JBL sound system and leather upholstery.
September 2018 - Toyota C-HR wins Parkers New Car of the Year award.

There are no previous generations of Toyota C-HR.

Toyota’s only earlier attempt to build a compact crossover was called the Urban Cruiser, a car so bland it sunk without a trace.