The Toyota C-HR is a stylish family car with the option of a cheap-to-run hybrid engine. It’s fun to drive, but it’s not quite as practical as plenty of other less eye-catching SUVs
If you’re looking for a small family SUV that’ll have no trouble standing out from the crowd, the Toyota C-HR is well worth a look. It’s easy to drive and cheap to run, but the first thing you’ll notice about it is just how futuristic it looks.
Unlike some SUVs that are little more than jacked-up hatchbacks, the Toyota C-HR looks like it’s taken a wrong turn off the set of Star Trek and ended up in Sainsbury’s car park. Sure, you get a bunch of chunky black plastic bumpers and side skirts, but the Toyota C-HR’s angular headlights, strongly creased sides and swooping coupe-like roofline make it look much sportier than a conventional boxy SUV.
Climb inside, and you’ll find the Toyota C-HR’s interior looks just as flashy as its exterior. There’s a huge streak of bright blue trim that stretches from the front doors all the way across the dashboard and you get plenty of embossed plastics that mimic the C-HR’s diamond-patterned grille. Sadly, while some of these surfaces feel lovely and soft, the steering wheel is made of a disappointingly hard and cheap-feeling plastic.
Combine this with the touchscreen’s rather ungainly plastic frame, and the interior’s whole futuristic sci-fi illusion is somewhat ruined. It wouldn’t be so bad if the touchscreen looked great and responded to your inputs quickly, but it’s nowhere near as easy to use as the system you get in a VW Tiguan.
The Toyota C-HR isn’t quite as roomy as a Tiguan, either. Sure, there’s ample space for tall adults in the front but the tiny rear windows and sloping roofline make it feel rather dark and dingy in the back. The boot’s significantly smaller than in almost all other similar-sized SUVs, too.
Toyota’s styling department really took its brave pills with the C-HR – it looks like nothing else on the road. Whether or not that’s a good thing will be up to you…
These small windows also make the Toyota C-HR rather tricky to see out of, but at least it comes with parking sensors to help you avoid low-speed bumps. The steering’s nice and light too, so you won’t struggle to drive it through tight city streets and the suspension does a fairly good job ironing out bumps and potholes.
It’s not quite as relaxing to drive as the Peugeot 3008 – you can blame the rather intrusive wind and tyre noise for that – but the Toyota C-HR handles twisty roads surprisingly well. It has plenty of grip and barely leans in tight corners, so your passengers shouldn’t have any reason to feel car sick.
Neither the Toyota’s 1.2-litre turbo petrol nor 1.8-litre hybrid engine feels particularly sporty, but they’re both reasonably smooth and return pretty decent fuel economy. It’s just a shame that the CVT automatic gearbox you get as standard with the hybrid model makes such an annoying din when you accelerate hard.
Thankfully, the standard manual gearbox in 1.2-litre models is a doddle to use – and it’ll save you a few quid over the optional automatic, too. Speaking of saving money, check out our Toyota C-HR deals page to see the latest offers or read our following interior, practicality, driving and specifications review sections for more information.