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Toyota adds the cool to youthful C-HR

The design of Toyota’s new C-HR is as radical as seeing a middle-aged dad wearing skinny jeans, a flat peak cap and a hoody. Whatever switched flicked in Akio Toyoda’s head, I’m very pleased with the result. The C-HR is revolutionary for the brand.

With Toyota’s being viewed as bland and functional for many years, the C-HR tries to hark back to the original RAV4. The crossover segment is booming with people ditching sedans and even hatchbacks for these ‘midway’ solutions. The Toyota C-HR comes at the right time then and even I, the cavalier youngster among the TopGear team, can sing to its tune.

It’s not big but it creates the illusion of being big. As a driver, the seating position is comfortable and cosy and the materials used are modern and clean. There is nothing as disappointing as sitting in a Japanese car and the same shiny black leather from the 80s adorns the dashboard and the steering wheel. Those trimmings were a personal reminder of hot sunny days sitting inside my grandparents’ Toyota Cressida.

So you can imagine the elation I felt when I saw that the cabin of the Toyota C-HR had absconded the leftovers from my childhood. Instead there is an infotainment system that allows me to play music from my phone and connect via USB as well.

My passengers did complain about the strangely high rear window line, which apparently feels out of place. They did love the rear door handles though, more than I thought they would. In fact many people commented about the door handles, something I didn’t find THAT amazing but that must be the jaded cynicism kicking in. For families the rear trunk space may be a slight challenge because it doesn’t offer much in terms of depth. For me, however, my laptop bag and ready-to-eat Woolworths dinners had more than enough space to fit. One of the most revolutionary features of the Toyota C-HR is the engine. Japanese car makers seem to have an allergy to forced induction in petrol units, but Toyota has carved out room for a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine producing 85kW/185Nm. The car offers decent power with or without passengers, but the manual version does tend to bog down on a sloppy getaway. The road holding of the car is good; low centre of gravity helps and the driving position nicely connected to what the wheels are doing.

Overall the Toyota C-HR is a nifty little (big) thing. Toyota has finally given us a car with pizzazz and pizzazz sells. Young families, aging hipsters and anyone who appreciates something off beat will like this car. I did too, the non-conformist vibe is something I find rather appealing.

  • Price: R345 000
  • 1197cc, 4cyl turbo petrol, FWD, 6M
  • 85kW, 185Nm
  • 6.3l/100km, 141g/km CO2
  • 0-100km/h in 10.9 sec, 190km/h
  • 1425kg
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