Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Two hybrid options to choose from
  • Automatic transmissions for both
  • Impressive performance from 2.0-litre

What engine options are there?

Power for the C-HR comes from two hybrid engines – Toyota calls them self-charging hybrids – making use of a petrol engine in combination with an electric motor. There’s a choice of a 1.8-litre that’s been available from the beginning of the C-HR’s life, while a more powerful 2.0-litre option was added to the range as part of the car’s mid-life facelift late in 2019. 

>> We rate the best hybrid SUVs

The 1.8 is smooth and feels faster than its 11.0-second 0-62mph time suggests. It gets going rapidly, and the type of automatic gearbox it has means you don’t have to worry about jerky gearchanges.

The more powerful 2.0 engine is more eager to get going than the 1.8. It’s pretty nippy and is the one to go for if you spend a lot of time out of town on faster roads. It feels more responsive and a lot better suited to that kind of road. Around town though, it demonstrates all the civilised and refined traits of the 1.8. 

CVT style transmission

Both engines use a CVT style automatic transmission. It feels like it runs out of puff at higher speeds, and it takes a little planning when on the motorway if you want to overtake. It’s in this kind of situation where the hybrid/CVT combination produces constant engine noise. The revs soar as you put your foot down and the engine screams away. It’s not quite as dramatic as some older versions of this type of gearbox, but it’s noticeable if you’re used to driving a manual or a conventional automatic car.

Hybrid engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.8-litre 122hp, 142Nm 11.0secs 105mph
2.0-litre 184hp, 190Nm 8.2secs 112mph

View full specs

Handling

  • C-HR designed to improve Toyota’s handling image
  • Very well controlled in the corners – especially for an SUV
  • Steering delivers little feedback but good accuracy

For the C-HR, Toyota has expended a great deal of effort attempting to understand European driving traits and how they influence the development of its cars. The end result is a Toyota that is much more satisfying from behind the wheel – a far cry from Toyotas of old that were traditionally very easy to drive, but not especially involving.

The C-HR changes direction keenly enough but it isn’t brimming with feel and feedback. But it transitions very smoothly into cornering, with little of the numbness about the straight ahead you often experience with electrically assisted systems. It’s very nicely weighted and doesn’t leave you feeling detached like it does in other small SUVs.

Similarly, the suspension’s damping is excellent, not only doing a great job of absorbing bumpy roads effectively but also controlling the way the C-HR leans into turns – tilting gently rather than lurching. 

Toyota says it was aiming to deliver the handling enthusiasm of ‘a competent hatchback’; we’d hesitate to go quite that far in isolation, but for an SUV it acquits itself commendably, and can be placed on the road with great accuracy and surprising agility. The addition of the 2.0-litre hybrid model only accentuates this, proving the chassis can handle more power, and that you can actually enjoy a series of twisty bends if you feel so inclined.