Ian Lamming celebrates his lasting love for Toyota’s funky SUV, the C-HR.
I LOVE my car and this is why.
It’s an SUV, so it sits high above the floodwaters. But it has been melded with a funky looking coupe so it looks less boxy and is aerodynamic.
It boasts the ride of a magic carpet (and we know who else uses that phrase…it’s Rolls-Royce, by the way), but has the dynamics of something sporty. And the best thing? It saves me a third on fuel costs compared to my last car. That’s Toyota’s C-HR for you.
So when Toyota brings out a new version, I’m interested. Parked side by side with mine it becomes one of those games where you have to try and spot the difference. It’s testament to the original CH-R’s design that it is changed so little three years down the road.
The fog lights have risen a few inches and the front end looks marginally remoulded around the lights. The back lights look different under the lenses but that’s about it. A man on a flying horse wouldn’t notice much change.
My car isn’t without its faults but they are minor. The 1.8 litre motor could do with a smidgen more power, mainly so it doesn’t sound as strained under heavy acceleration. The halogen headlights could do with a few more candles and the radio would benefit from a bit richer sound.
Test car comes with a larger 2.0 engine (though you can still opt for the 1.8) and lo and behold there is more power – up from 122 to 184bhp. You can feel and hear it as the motor sounds much quieter under power. But there’s a but…in fact there are now two in that sentence.
The extra power ups your CO2 from 86 to a still-new-standard-beating 92g/km, which you can probably live with. But it drops your fuel consumption from the 1.8’s incredible to a less impressive but still frugal. I reckon you lose about 8mpg so you pays your money and takes your choice.
The LED lights are definitely better – I want them – illuminating the road ahead with near daylight levels of vision and the radio is bassier too. I wish I had opted for the JBL unit from the accessory catalogue.
Inside, it’s more of the same, though there are some features I prefer. Loving the quilted seat trim Toyota. I’d like a coat to match. Being an old retro I also prefer the fact that the central display has moved away from pure touchscreen to a mix of dab, knobs and buttons. The on/off/volume control is a now a trusty knob and the primary functions are on buttons either side of the screen which, for me, are much more intuitive and easy to use.
Where I can’t spot any difference is in the general joy of driving C-HR; it really is a great car to pilot. It is just so relaxed, quiet and comfortable. It is surprising nowadays that some manufacturers can produce an uncomfortable seat given the access to design technology. But many a week my back is killing me – but never in the C-HR. I also find myself less tired after a week on the roads because noise levels are so low. Seldom do wind, road or engine noise percolate through to the cabin. It is exceptional.
The look hasn’t dated one iota. C-HR remains fresh, modern, 21st century, with great proportions, exceptional curves and big alloys. Given its coupe lines it is surprising how much interior space there is and the boot swallows my push bike (with the back seats lowered) without having to take out a wheel, which is astounding.
It’s a lovely car to wash with the brush flowing over its superb paint finish, with barely any drag, the dirt dropping off at almost a glance. The quality alloys are smooth and easy to clean too, with no sharp edges to trash my rubber gloves. Somehow the engine bay manages to keep the grime at bay as well. As an obsessive, I love it.
Toyota could have quite easily changed for the sake of change but I’m so happy to report that new C-HR is a very mildly honed version of what was still a truly great car – and I love it.
Toyota C-HR Hybrid Dynamic
Engine: 2.0 petrol plus electric
Top speed: 112mph
CO2 g/km: 92