Saturday 17 March 2018

Toyota C-HR: 'Comfort is the name of the game behind the wheel'

Toyota has announced ambitious sales plans for its stylish new petrol-only C-HR, writes Martin Brennan

HIGH AND MIGHTY: Toyota’s new game-changing C-HR has plenty of appeal
HIGH AND MIGHTY: Toyota’s new game-changing C-HR has plenty of appeal

Martin Brennan

Crossover sales are expected to triple across Europe in the next seven years, according to Toyota. The accelerating shift in car designs will eat into traditional hatchback and saloon markets as more and more drivers show a preference for the elevated stance, with the improved hip-level seating aiding entry/exit. Another big bonus is the improvement in road visibility.

So enter Toyota's first foray into the C-segment crossover market with the arrival of the C-HR (Coupe High Riser), and the immediate focus is on the long-running Nissan Qashqai and the current bestseller, the Hyundai Tucson.

Toyota marketeers plan to sell 3,000 units next year through their 47 dealerships. Interestingly, as petrol-power makes a steady comeback, no diesel engines are planned.

Sales are expected to be 50/50 between the 1.8 litre hybrid and the 1.2 litre turbo engine versions.

The new model will be a game changer for Toyota but it will not be a replacement for the long-serving Avensis, as Toyota plans to sell 1,200 Avensis models next year.

Predictions in the motor industry are that 50pc of cars sold globally will be SUV/crossover design by 2030.

Crossover sales are now three times higher than they were seven years ago.

The C-HR concept came from Japan, with the avant-garde styling from design studios in Europe and America. To get the driving dynamic right, the chief engineer spent months driving around Europe to get the feel of what was needed.

Cars that are driven fast, and are stylish, are what we like to drive, he observed.

The new model is definitely stylish, with hints of Lexus IS in the body lines and particularly in the rear light clusters.

The target audience is widespread - young families, downsizers, singles and couples with no children.

The new style, according to Toyota's designers, translates into a coupe-like upper body with the rear door handles hidden in the C-pillars; wheel arches projecting prominently in all corners; the new "Keen Look" diamond-shaped Toyota family face, and a sweeping roofline that melts into the rear roof-mounted spoiler.

All this sits on the new platform designed for the fourth generation of the Prius.

It offers a reasonable 377 litres of boot space. Inside, seats are comfortable and supportive with controls orientated towards the driver in an airy cabin.

There is an 8in touchscreen for satnav, reversing camera etc; and a full range of infotainment features.

Safety aids abound, and, from next year, all C-HR and Prius models will have Toyota "Safety Sense" as standard - pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, land departure alert, automatic high beam, road sign assist, blind-spot monitor and parking assist. This will become available in other models and is expected to be standard in the mid- to high-trim levels.

Standard equipment includes dual air-conditioning, 17in alloys, rear-view camera, and rain-sensing wipers.

Upper grades get 18in wheels and heated seating.

Comfort is the name of the game behind the wheel. The engine's low centre of gravity means there is very little body roll, and with good manners on corners the C-HR cruises quietly, but a bit more power from the 1.2T option would be welcome.

An all-wheel-drive version will be available from the middle of next year.

Prices start at €26,895 for the 1.2T Luna which gives 116bhp, 5.5L/100km and 135km of C02, which attracts €280 road tax.

Sunday Independent

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