The base-model two-wheel-drive CVT model we tested comes well equipped for its position in the line-up, with satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lamps, hill-start assist control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up to the Koba adds leather-accented seats, keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch alloys, LED headlamps and an innovative system that moisturises cabin air.
It’s the excellent suite of advanced safety features, standard across the range, that sets C-HR apart from most in this class. All variants have seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-collision safety system, active cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist and auto high beam. On most other brands these advanced safety features are usually extra-cost options, if available at all. Interestingly, C-HR also has trailer sway control across the range. This is a feature usually found on vehicles with heavy-duty towing capabilities, not the likes of C-HR, which has a maximum towing capacity of a mere 600kg for the auto, and a slightly more respectable 1100kg for the manual model.
The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine, which is a newcomer to the Australian market, provides the easy-going driveability sought for everyday use around town. Acceleration times, however, are fairly leisurely and it doesn’t have a lot in reserve for passing. With a maximum 85kW, the engine is down on power compared with many of its competitors, but a broad spread of strong low-to-mid-range torque saves the day to some extent. All models have three selectable drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport – that vary throttle response, steering weight and CVT operation. The CVT has a manual mode with seven-step simulated gears.
Our two-wheel-drive auto was only really found wanting on steep hills or when rapid acceleration was needed for comfortable overtaking. Working hard on hills, the otherwise smooth and quiet engine gets a touch raucous, while CVT whine is a little more noticeable. Official fuel consumption, on 95 RON petrol, is a respectable 6.3L/100km whereas we got only 8.0L/100km on our test week.
Low centre of gravity
The Toyota New Generation Architecture platform on which C-HR is built provides a solid foundation for the suspension, which utilises MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear, while the engine is positioned to keep the centre of gravity low for less body roll and better balance. C-HR’s ride was impressive on good roads, but it showed its firmness on second-class roads where it started to get choppy. The handling provided a securely planted feel and sure-footed cornering. The light steering has a little more road feel in Sport mode but there is no pretence of sports-car handling.
We also drove the Koba model with the on-demand all-wheel-drive system which primarily powers the front wheels then, as needed, proportionally transfers drive to the rear, up to a 50-50 split. In normal driving conditions there is not a great deal of difference in the driving feel, but on loose gravel or wet, slippery roads the extra traction is appreciated.
C-HR is the first Toyota to specify annual services rather than six-monthly service intervals. Each is $195, with the price capped for five years.
Toyota’s C-HR has joined the class leaders in the compact SUV category. It has a youthful, vibrant image created by flamboyant styling, while the interior presentation and standard equipment, particularly the safety features, are at premium levels for this class. In a few
areas, however, fashion has overridden function with a very enclosed feel for rear-seat occupants. Likewise, on-road ability is suited to everyday use around town and leisurely highway cruising but falls away when asked to do a bit more.