Road Tests

Drive Review: Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury high on the spec chic

Extroverted design. Fun to drive. These are characteristics which Toyota is applying to the updated 2019 C-HR. A car that since launch in 2017, began to break the mould for Toyota in the highly competitive crossover market. Let’s just say if you’re looking for a compact, high-riding, stylish car, you’re spoilt for choice and ironically for a brand that brought us the charming RAV4 in the mid 90s, Toyota did lose some ground thereafter.

As RAV4 grew outwards and upwards (read about the new RAV4 here), a space opened up below which the C-HR now fills. Truthfully though it fills many voids…bridges many gaps. Not as rugged as Fortuner but far sexier than the Corolla, the C-HR is designed to get noticed.

Deep within the creases and folds of this catalogue, the chic yet niche Toyota C-HR sits, now with a new flagship which adds a few features, offering more in the way of style, comfort, convenience and safety specification  into the price that weren’t previously available.

Amidst its own creases and diamond-architectural design visual hooks, the C-HR Luxury stands out further as Toyota’s renegade with a striking two-tone colour scheme topped with a black roof and side mirrors contrasted with a choice of four body colours. The option of a white roof and mirrors combo with contrasting black body colour is also an option, a style that would complement the smoked DRLs that also make an appearance on the Luxury model.

Exterior considerations aside, a lot of the added features to the Luxury are answers to criticisms of the trio of cars launched here early last year. For one, the entire range now benefits from a boot space hike that is almost double in size, thanks to the use of a space-saving spare wheel.

The entire range also has a reverse camera as standard, a welcome tick especially when parking a car that won’t win the all-round-visibility award. To sweeten the chore of parking, the C-HR Luxury is also  equipped with an Intelligent Park Assist system that will partly take over parking duties for you and expertly  manoeuvre the car into a form-fitting space.

Step inside the C-HR and that ‘Luxury’ suffix really starts to make sense. There’s a notable leap in luxurious appointments like full leather seats and matching upper dash, an infotainment screen that is more responsive to touch and up on resolution more attuned with the promise of the car’s modern and fresh design. You can now sync Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (depending on your phone) to ensure that the multimedia never gets outdated . and enjoy the creature comforts of seat heaters and the added safety of an additional pair of airbags. This adds value compared to earlier C-HR models.

With futuruistic styling and some other key components loosely based around the Prius, you would be forgiven for thinking there is some battery assistance at work here. Instead, performance balances with economy with the same modern 1.2-litre turbo-petrol found in all the other derivatives.  As the word luxury would imply, the gearbox is automatic and it’s the fly in the ointment because it felt unmotivated around our Johannesburg loop, offsetting the obvious convenience of not having to use a clutch in traffic.

The C-HR Luxury is the flagship that this range needed with masterful driving competence, an impeccable ride and build quality. The design remains as unique today as it did 18 months ago, putting Toyota right back in the game it once so courageously started. Avon Middleton


  • R422 100
  • 1197cc 4cyl, turbo petrol, FWD, 85kW, 185Nm
  • 6.4l/100km, 144g/km C02
  • 0-100km/h in 10.9secs, 190km/h
  • 1440kg
  • VERDICT: Toyota’s headturner with better looks and fewer flaws.
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