► Likeable but flawed
► Shock: achievable WLTP figures
► Only available as a hybrid
Oddly, the C-HR might just be the enthusiast’s choice of small SUV/coupe/crossover thing. This niche of a niche isn’t all that popular with those who spend more time on forums than with their families, but by gum, Toyota has inadvertently made a car for them.
You see, the C-HR is a thoroughly engineered piece of kit with an interesting hybrid engine. From certain angles, it’s bizarre enough looking to be interesting, and the interior is grey in a way that only Japanese cars can be.
It even has some inherent flaws that car enthusiasts love. It’s cramped, the drivetrain moos like a highland cow on a drizzly day, and you can even buy a version that has GR Sport stickers plastered all over it, but won’t stroll a 0-62mph time in anything less than 11.0 seconds.
Let’s talk about the design
It’s been on sale since 2017 yet it still looks wacky today. The sloping roofline and integrated rear door handles create a sporty silhouette, while LED lights front and rear (including fashionable scrolling indicators), a big-ish grille/bumper situation up front, loud colours and contrasting roof colours keeps things modern.
Best hybrids and plug-ins
Inside, it’s a swathe of grey interjected with curves, textures and surfaces to liven it up a bit. The infotainment screen is large enough and has physical buttons too. But it does feel old. Particularly the graphics and fonts, which look like they might have been nicked from a Casio watch.
At least it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, allowing you to simply bypass 1980 and zoom straight into this century.
Is it good to drive?
The 2.0-litre is the one for enthusiasts. It has 182hp and a respectable 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds. This unit makes full use of the car’s excellent chassis. It feels far more agile than you’d expect a sensible hybrid Toyota to be (but most of its cars are driving like this of late), the steering isn’t too light and it goes where you point it. The ride is pretty well-sorted too, making it a pleasant compromise between comfortable and controlled.
You can have a bit of a giggle with the 2.0-litre. It scampers along nicely without ever feeling overwhelmed by tight bends, the body control remaining very composed at all times.
The 1.8-litre doesn’t feel that much slower off the mark. But its 0-62mph time is nearly three seconds slower than the 2.0-litre, which explains the reason why we’d recommend the 2.0-litre. Get past the initial electric shove and acceleration soon tails off.
Of more importance to most buyers is that the C-HR is smooth and refined around town. In fact, it’ll potter about in silence far more than you’d expect it to – with a little monitor in the dials telling you what percentage of the journey you’ve travelled in EV mode alone.
50mpg is easily achievable in either model. In fact, the WLTP mpg ratings for both engines are obtainable at least some of the time. Which makes a change.
We’ve been building up to the next point for about 500 words now. So let’s just talk about the engine/transmission. There are two electric motors/generators and a single planetary gear. It works a bit like a CVT. With this in mind, it’s really not that bad.
If you floor it, you will hear and feel a bit of rev hanging. It’s not as well-resolved as the system in the Toyota Yaris, but it’s fine for pottering around town.
Practicality (or lack of)
That rakish shape does not translate to good visibility. Gloomy, small windows, dark headlining and chunky pillars mean you can be caught out on occasion when making certain manoeuvres.
The rear door handles, stylishly hidden like an Alfa 156, are also high up, which makes it hard for kids to open their doors.
Stat nerds take note. With the rear seats in place, the boot will hold 377 litres worth of stuff. For comparison, a Renault Clio has a larger boot.
In a world where badges and infotainment systems mean more than reliability and panel gaps, it’s easy to see why the general public would (and do) choose Skoda Kamiqs or Ford Pumas.
But if you’re a car enthusiast with the unusual hankering for a hybrid crossover, who can appreciate the engineering and treat the foibles as character flaws, the C-HR is surprisingly recommendable.