Toyota are back in the race against Nissan in the compact SUV segment. The C-HR is a clear competitor with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, and until you see it in the flesh, you just don't realise that this car is coming in at nearly the same size as the new Ateca from SEAT, the Tiguan from Volkswagen, the Nissan Qashqai and the Hyundai Tucson. This car should appeal to the green and the not-so-green alike, because like most other current Toyotas on the market, it is available with both a petrol and a hybrid engine set-up.
On paper, the C-HR does not look like the most exciting car in the world. Neither the 1.2 petrol nor the 1.8 hybrid offer exciting figures - however, it's still meeting the average for the segment. On-paper, the 1.2 litre petrol engine will bring you from 0-100km/h in 10.9 seconds and it has a top-speed of 190km/h. The 1.8 litre hybrid brings you from 0-100km/ in 11 seconds and the top speed goes to 170 km/h. The 1.8 litre hybrid gives 122 bhp, while the 1.2 litre gives 116 bhp. The manual 1.2 litre has a 6-speed gearbox, while the 1.8 has a CVT set-up. The CVT box can make things a bit noisy as it struggles to get comfortable with itself.
The 1.2 litre engine seems comfortable in its skin. It's nice on bends and the steering is direct. Naturally, the hybrid feels heavier and it doesn't feel as comfortable on bends - however, it's not problematic. The 1.2 drives surprisingly well on those corners and there is minimal roll. The car also deals with Irish road imperfections with ease.
The smaller of the two engines is refined and it doesn't suffer from engine-noise intrusion. As is common with CVT transmissions, they can be noisy and even though the 1.8 is incredibly quiet in electric mode, the car moans as it is trying to get comfortable in its gear. Apart from that, there is some road and wind noise from the C-HR on the motorway.
All new Toyota's come with a comprehensive three-year warranty (or 100,000km) which also has three year's free roadside assistance. As a brand, Toyota has an excellent reputation - despite large recalls in the past. The materials within the cabin don't at all feel cheap and the dash materials in the Sol variant feel excellent.
As of yet, the Toyota C-HR has not undergone the Euro NCAP tests. It is available with "Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection", lane departure warning, road sign assist and automatic high beam.
The front cabin is spacious and comfortable, and we'd even go as far as to say that it has one of the nicest Toyota dashes that we have seen. The rear, because of the coupe-like sloped roof, the windows get smaller going back, which means things start to feel dark in there. The darkened tinted windows in our test vehicle also added to a slightly cramped feel. Head room is surprisingly good within the CH-R. The boot offers 377 litres, which is nowhere near the space available in the Ateca (510), the Renault Kadjar (527 litres) or even the Qashqai (430 litres). However, Toyota is trying to break the mould with this vehicle by making it so coupe-like.