Toyota’s managed to make the C-HR feel pretty sporty without sending every bump in the road into the cabin. Unfortunately, it’s pretty noisy on the motorway
You can get the C-HR with a 1.2-litre petrol engine or with a hybrid system that combines a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery pack.
Pick the 1.2-litre model if you spend most of your time driving around town. It’s quiet, smooth and just about punchy enough to keep up with faster traffic if you venture out onto a motorway. Models fitted with a slick manual gearbox return around 41mpg.
The more expensive hybrid uses the same tried-and-tested 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor as the Prius to return around 70mpg. Unlike the Prius, however, it isn’t exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
Avoid the automatic gearbox – it’s about as annoying as having a wasp trapped in your ear and sounds pretty much the same, too
The hybrid comes fitted with a CVT automatic gearbox that makes the engine drone noisily when you accelerate, both around town and on the motorway. It’s available on the 1.2-litre petrol model, too, for an extra £1,200 but it’s well worth avoiding – the six-speed manual has a nice short throw and is easily slick enough to make light work of heavy traffic – the leather around the gear knob can squeak annoyingly when you change gear though.
You can get 1.2-litre models with four-wheel drive for £1,285 but they’ll burn more fuel than their front-wheel-drive cousins and aren’t particularly great off-road. Anything more taxing than a slippery field will leave them high and dry.
You sit lower in the C-HR than you do in the likes of a SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008. As a result, you don’t get such a raised view of the road ahead – it’s a sort of halfway-house between a conventional hatchback and a full-blown SUV.
The pillars where the doors meet the windscreen are punctuated by some handy extra windows by the wing mirrors, so there aren’t any awkward blind spots to worry about at junctions.
Unfortunately, its low roof, minuscule back windows and small rear windscreen give you a terrible view out the back. Thankfully, all C-HR models come with a reversing camera as standard while Excel and Dynamic models also come with front and rear parking sensors and a self-parking system.
The Toyota’s controls are reasonably light which helps make it fairly easy to thread through tight city streets. It’ll cope with rutted British roads reasonably well, too, but the larger 18-inch wheels fitted to mid-range models can highlight larger bumps and potholes.
The C-HR has loads of grip and doesn’t lean much in tight corners. It’s sportier than most SUVs but not quite as fun to drive as a SEAT Ateca. It isn’t as relaxing to drive as a Peugeot 3008, either, thanks to the loud wind noise and intrusive tyre roar you’ll hear at motorway speeds.
Euro NCAP awarded the C-HR an impressive five-star safety rating in the strict 2017 tests, making it one of the safest family cars you can buy. It performed particularly well in the safety assists category thanks to all models coming with adaptive cruise control (to automatically match the speed of the car in front), lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and road sign assist as standard.