The Toyota C-HR is a more eye-catching SUV alternative to the likes of the VW Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai. It’s quite good fun to drive, but not all that practical
The Toyota C-HR is a left-field alternative to the likes of the rather boxy VW Tiguan and Peugeot 3008. Unfortunately, it’s not as practical as some less stylish SUVs but it’s fun to drive and you can get it as a frugal hybrid.
Its angular styling makes it look more like a jacked-up hot hatch than a mini off-roader – a theme that continues inside. A large 8.0-inch touchscreen sits high up on the dashboard which, combined with its low-slung seats and rather slim windows, makes you feel more like you’re sitting in a sports car that’s parked on a flatbed than driving a high-riding SUV – indeed C-HR stands for Coupe High-Rider
There’s plenty of seat adjustment for six-footers to get comfortable and all the C-HR’s buttons are logically laid out. Unfortunately, some cheap-feeling materials on the steering wheel and doors let the side down slightly.
The C-HR’s modest interior dimensions mean head room and leg room are more cramped in the back than in the likes of the VW Tiguan and the C-HR’s dark roof lining and small rear windows make it feel pretty dingy too. The soft central seat means you can fit three people in the back with surprising ease – providing they don’t have particularly big feet.
There are plenty of handy cubbyholes in the front – the door bins are just about big enough for a large bottle while the glovebox, cupholders and central storage bin are all impressively roomy. In the back, however, your passengers have to make do with just two small cupholders – there isn’t even a folding armrest.
The C-HR’s boot space is equally devoid of clever touches. It’ll carry 377 litres of luggage, which is pretty average compared with the 591 litres you get in the Peugeot 3008 and 615 litres served up by the VW Tiguan with the rear seats and parcel shelf in place. There’s also no storage under the fixed boot floor. You do get a few tethering points and some shopping hooks but the tall boot lip makes loading heavy items difficult.
Fold the rear seats down in a two-way (60:40) split and you’ll have access to a 1,160-litre load bay. That’s quite a bit smaller than the VW Tiguan’s 1,655-litre boot, although it’s still big enough to carry a bike with its wheels attached. Unfortunately, there’s a large step behind the rear seats that’ll make sliding in bulky items a real pain.
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
You can have the C-HR with either a 1.2-litre petrol engine or as a frugal hybrid. The former will return around 41mpg and is best suited to pottering around town while the latter uses a 1.8-litre engine and an electric motor to return around 70mpg. Neither feel particularly quick at motorway speeds, however, and versions fitted with an automatic gearbox drone loudly when you accelerate.
The C-HR soaks up potholes fairly well – especially if you avoid the larger 18-inch wheels such as on Dynamic models – but it’s quite noisy on the move. You’ll hear more wind and tyre roar in its cabin than in a VW Tiguan or Peugeot 3008.
The C-HR really excels when it comes to safety, though. Euro NCAP awarded it an impressive five-star safety rating in 2017, making it one of the safest family cars on sale. Combine this with its unique looks and well-equipped cabin and it’s well worth considering if practicality isn’t high up your list of priorities.