Toyota C-HR Dynamic review
The Toyota C-HR is a bold crossover with hybrid power, and a two-tone colour scheme helps the range-topping Dynamic stand out even more
The compact crossover class is booming, with people drawn to the SUV-like driving appeal of cars like the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca. Toyota has become a major player in the class with the C-HR, and the sporty Dynamic trim is particularly desirable.
The C-HR badge stands for ‘Coupe High Rider’ and the car certainly turn heads, with bold styling that makes it look part coupe, part off-roader and part concept car. It’s an outlandish design and helps Toyota cut through the busy compact crossover class. It's even more attention grabbing in Dynamic guise, thanks to black 18-inch alloy wheels and a contrasting black roof that stands out against standard metallic paint.
Up to 75% of customers are expected to choose the hybrid model, which uses the same 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain with a CVT transmission found in the Prius. While this combination works well in that car, the verdict is not so favourable for the C-HR. Where the Prius is smooth and effortless, the C-HR is droney. Relying heavily on its petrol engine, even gentle applications of the throttle send the revs soaring.
It would be perhaps forgivable if the C-HR sounded good. But it doesn’t. The petrol engine has a coarse and intrusive note and Sport mode makes things even worse; it sharpens the throttle response but this only encourages the engine to work harder, sooner. We’d perhaps forgive the noisy soundtrack if the performance wasn’t leisurely. It takes 11 seconds, for instance, to accelerate from 0-62mph.
Perhaps sweetening the hybrid as an offering is the economy of 58.8mpg and 86g/km CO2 emissions, making it especially appealing for company-car drivers. Drive it gently and the C-HR will even drive in zero-emissions electric mode for short distances.
If you don’t need the hybrid version, however, then the C-HR’s only other engine option is a 1.2-litre turbo petrol. With 114bhp it’s no rocketship, but with a six-speed manual gearbox it’s a much more engaging car to drive. This version also gets the option of four-wheel-drive and a CVT gearbox. Fuel economy for the petrol ranges from 34 to 41.5mpg, depending which version you go for.
Despite its tall profile and Prius underpinnings, the C-HR is actually very adept to drive. There’s plenty of grip, the steering is sweet and it keeps its body upright through corners.
Inside, the C-HR is just as bold. There’s a wraparound dash with blue insert and a large tablet-style infotainment screen that dominates the cabin. A repeated diamond pattern in the overhead courtesy lights and headlining add interest. You’ll either love it or hate it.
The quality of the materials and the fit and finish of the cabin is good but some of the materials are a bit unfashionable. Despite the rakish profile, there’s plenty of space inside. The thick C-pillars mean rear seat passengers might feel claustrophobic but there’s no arguing about head or leg room. From the driver’s seat, the large windscreen and high seats give an excellent view of the road but the view out the back is compromised by the design. The boot is a decent size and comparable with rivals, with 377 litres of space.
When it comes to choosing the equipment level, Dynamic trim sits at the top of the tree above Icon, Design and Excel, and along with its special wheels and roof, you also get LED headlights, LED foglights and powered lumbar support for the front seats. Certain kit is still optional, from Toyota's Leather Pack for leather seats and a JBL Pack adding a JBL stereo with nine speakers.
Prices for the C-HR start from just over £22,000, but the Dynamic trim costs from £29,450 with a Hybrid powertrain, making it relatively pricey for the class. and three trim levels are available: Icon, Excel and Dynamic. There’s plenty of kit as standard, with all cars featuring climate and cruise control as well as adaptive cruise and autonomous emergency braking.
Verdict - 3.5/5.0
The C-HR’s looks are divisive – you’ll either buy one because you love the way it looks or you’ll avoid it at all costs. If you absolutely must have a C-HR, then We’d avoid the disappointing hybrid in favour of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol for its more harmonious engaging driving experience. You’ll pay a little more in road tax company-car tax and fuel but we think that’s a price worth paying. The C-HR is also surprisingly fun to drive and has plenty of space. That sci-fi design makes its presence felt in the cabin, too. Compared to rivals, this is a bold crossover that will turn heads. The C-HR looks best in Dynamic trim but it's also quite expensive in this form, so you can easily save a few grand by opting for the Design trim instead, without missing out on essentials.