What is it?
The Toyota C-HR is a companion model to the evergreen RAV4, but since the latter was the subject of a substantial do-over recently — the family resemblance has diminished somewhat.
It’s a two-model range, C-HR and the better equipped Koba.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine. There is a manual or CVT for the entry grade, CVT only for the Koba.
Opt for the CVT and there’s a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Peak power is 85kW between 5200 to 5600rpm. Torque is a bit more useable, with 185Nm between 1500 and 4000rpm.
Fuel comnsumption is a claimed 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle. On our urban drive we saw a best of 7.4L and worst of 7.9L/100km.
And Premium 95RON is recommended.
What’s it cost?
The 2WD starts from around $30,500 in Hornet Yellow. Add metallic paint and that goes to just over $31K.
The AWD starts from around $34,700.
There is a reasonable amount of standard equipment and safety features for the ask.
Inside is an auto dimming rear vision mirror, auto headlights, dual zone aircon, but no DAB in the boomy audio system.
The 6.1-inch touchscreen system has a CD player to make up for the lack of digital radio, plus USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Satnav and voice activation are also standard as is the Toyota Link system which adds functionality via an app.
Safety Sense is the name Toyota gives to its suite of driver aids, and the C-HR comes with Lane Departure Warning, Auto High Beam, Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Cruise Control are standard as well.
Airbags? Seven, sir. Seven.
Thei interior features a triangular motif embossed into the roof lining which matches the interior light above the manually operated front seats.
It’s fair to say the cabin is a bit claustrophobic thanks to black cloth and a sloping rear roofline.
The exterior is not unpleasing but the styling is definitely a matter of personal preference.
The rear roof line slopes dramatically forward from the tail lights, which can compromise headroom for taller people.
There’s a huge roof-lip spoiler too, which in Hornet Yellow becomes quite noticeable.
The wheel arches and guards are pumped out and these are defined by strong crease lines coming down from the windscreen and rear window.
The rear doors have a severe upwards kink to meet the roofline.
There’s enough boot space to house a week’s shopping for a family of four. It’s a high floor though, which means a bit more of a lift to get items in and out.
The front end bears (bore) a striking resemblance to the outgoing RAV4 and features a triangular LED driving light cluster inside the angular headlight design.
Alloys are 17 inch in size and on the C-HR have a design that somehow emphasizes the spinning motion of the wheels when underway.
What’s it go like?
It’s one of the few vehicles with a CVT that benefits from using the “manual” part of the gear selector.
Programed with seven ratios to mimic a standard auto, it’s far more responsive in manual mode.
Left in auto, however, it feels sluggish and needs a heavy right foot.
But, move the lever to the right, pull back for M1, hit the go pedal, tip forward for upshifts — and the car comes alive.
Forward movement seems to have far more snap and sizzle than leaving the transmission to do the job by itself.
The engine itself is quiet, with no audible appeal and neither is there anything from the exhaust to suggest anything exciting.
Ride quality is average at best. The MacPherson strut front seems indecisive; not knowing whether to adopt a softly, softly approach or go bang over bumps?
The trailing arm double wishbone rear end also has issues, with a harder than expected setup banging away on otherwise normally unintrusive bumps.
Steering feel is numb. There’s no real sense of communication with the front wheels, although it’s not quite a guessing game as to where it’s pointing.
The Bridgestone Dueler rubber isn’t a fan of wet weather either. The front end had noticeable push-on understeer on wet roads.
AWD mode is automatic. The driver can’t select from any drive mode.
A graphic on the 4.2 inch display screen shows what the car is doing. It’s a combination G-Force and how the drive is apportioned front and back. A hard launch shows drive being sent to the rear wheels, then easing off with the accelerator.
All in all, it’s not a driver’s car.
What we like?
- Manual mode provides more urge
- Very good standard safety features
- Economy is bad
What we don’t like?
- Pretty much everything else
The bottom line?
It’s rare that a car comes along that is utterly pointless.
The C-HR is that car in the Toyota family. Yes, it’s an alternative to the RAV4 — but why?
The RAV4 does the same job but does it much better.
The entry level C-HR delivers nothing out of the ordinary, but on the other hand nor does it do anything truly frightening.
It’s dynamically uninvolving, lacks aural appeal, with looks that may or may not appeal, and doesn’t have digital radio — but comes fully loaded with safety features.
Think of it as buying a supreme pizza and fizzy soft drink, but the pizza is cold and the drink goes flat too quickly.
CHECKOUT:Toyota’s C-HR dares to be different
Toyota C-HR, priced from $26,990