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First Drive

First Drive: Toyota C-HR

The story:
Our CCT100 Crossover of the Year gets some minor exterior revisions, an additional and more powerful hybrid powertrain and interior tweaks including improved infotainment.
Key rival:Nissan Qashqai
Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid Excel
MPG:49.6-54.3 mpg
On sale:Now

The Toyota C-HR has always stood out with its radical styling, funky cabin and decent driving dynamics, and with its hybrid-only powertrain options, it stands out as a company car, too.

In fact, the C-HR range stands out even more these days because the mid-life facelift has brought a number of tiny styling tweaks and a new, more powerful ‘self-charging’ powertrain, with a 184hp 2.0-litre engine and two electric motors, plus some infotainment tweaks, including the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This new powertrain’s big power boost makes it around 10% thirstier than the 122hp 1.8-litre hybrid unit carried over from the pre-facelift car; official figures say the car can cover an average of between 49.6mpg and 54.3mpg. The CO2 output of 92g/km puts the C-HR in the 22% Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket, although this will fall to 21% from April 6.

This latest C-HR drives better than ever, with a ride that’s firm but not harsh, and decently quick steering responses. It’s more refined on the move, too, with not too much in the way of wind and road noise, but while the powertrain is quiet when unstressed, the engine still blares its displeasure if you have the temerity to put your foot down to the carpet.

A C-HR is definitely a car for people who don’t mind being stared at, because it looks like little else on the road. Toyota’s designers were definitely given a free hand (or the boss was off the day the designs were submitted). Styling is undeniably subjective, but we like it.

First Drive-February 2020-Toyota C-HR- Image 4

Toyota’s crossover looks smaller than it really is, too, because there’s plenty of room up front for two tall adults, and the people behind get a fair amount of space, too. Okay, your knees might end up lightly brushing the back of the front seat, but there’s plenty of headroom.

However, that funky styling comes at a bit of a cost for rear passengers, because the rear window is pretty small. This also affects the driver during lane changes, because the view over your left shoulder is decidedly compromised.

euan doig

The verdict

C-HR is better than ever, both to drive and to live with. The fact that the numbers stack up is the cherry on top.