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New C-HR Shows Why Toyota May Be Right About EVs

Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The OEM with the best foresight has done it again – launched a model signed off years ago into a market gone lukewarm on EVs but mad for HEV and PHEV SUVs

Second generation model not for North America, Europe being the main market
Second generation model not for North America, Europe being the main market

This new generation Coupé-High Rider is certainly an unmistakable thing. The one lent to me by Toyota GB was not for anyone who dislikes attention. Its glossy black and metallic copper paint had a lot of people checking it out.

The only shame is that this Golf-sized SUV’s C-HR label is hard to find, being small and the same colour as the red rear lights. As is the word Toyota which sits to its left, above the brand logo.

Same size as the first generation

This newest of the company’s many models to be launched in the UK looks smaller than it is, length being almost 4.4 metres. I think that’s due to how the stronger colour of the two-tone effect ends on the rear doors, and a cosy or claustrophobic feel in the back seats depending on how tall you are.

This is unmistakably a coupé-SUV, not one which majors on maximum utility. So the target audience knows what they are getting and exterior looks are clearly the biggest part of the C-HR’s appeal.

Bland is out, beauty is in

This is a pretty car and that’s something we are now used to with Toyotas. I happen to believe that the Mirai is almost perfect, the Prius is gorgeous and the Corolla a great seller the world over due in some ways to its appearance.

All credit to Akio Toyoda for making the company which gave us the 2000GT almost sixty years ago – but then more or less forgot how to make beautiful bodies – remember what it once excelled at. There are now hardly any bland or forgettable designs in the brand’s global repertoire: a striking shift.

As easily the world’s largest car company, sexiness clearly sells too. The one region which Toyota could never quite crack was Europe but that time now seems long ago.

Catching VW Europe-wide

ACEA data for February are yet to be released, though we do know how the brand did in some of those 31 markets. In short, competitors should continue to be alarmed by the Japanese giant’s relentless progress.

In January, the gap to Volkswagen closed further, their EU-EFTA-UK sales tallies being 95,498 (down by 5.2% versus Jan 2023) and 78,314 (up 8.0%). BMW (60,781), Škoda (59,000) and fifth place Peugeot (57,447) were all a long way behind.

Toyota did get lucky, insomuch as people tend to recall this name when they think of a so-called ‘self-charging’ hybrid. Even that term remains historically linked to Toyota Motor Europe rather than Honda or any other brand selling series hybrid cars. All of which leads us to March 2024 and the slow, quietly sweeping advance of TME models right across the region.

Is Turkey in Europe? Yes, says TME

The new C-HR is an import from Turkey, build having commenced at TMMT’s Sakarya plant in November 2023. Europe gets 1.8 & 2.0-litre hybrids plus AWD availability for the latter with a 2.0-litre PHEV coming soon.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey not only also produces these models’ batteries but Sakarya is the first facility on TME’s patch to manufacture a plug-in hybrid car. TMMT manufactures the Corolla saloon too, while the new battery line has an initial annual capacity of 75,000 packs for electrified vehicles.

British market surge for HEVs and PHEVs

UK registrations for February show a strong bounce for EVs after the collapse which started in December and continued in January. And while TGB has fewer such models to sell than the Volkswagen Group, Hyundai-Kia or Stellantis, British buyers remain keen on PHEVs (up 29% YoY in Feb) and HEVs (+12%). Interestingly, it was big fleet orders which lifted registrations to the highest February in two decades whilst private purchases actually fell by three per cent.

Much of this is rather handy for Toyota, which has stated that a PHEV powertrain will be added to the C-HR range later in 2024. For now, it’s the HEV which is (already) doing brisk business. It also likely previews what could well become something of a blockbuster year for the model.

Smart styling

As with certain other press-testers, the car I recently drove for a week was quite the head-turner. As mentioned above, the colour scheme had a lot to do with that. Yet so too do all those extreme lines down each side, slick lighting back and front, a steeply angled windscreen and a lofty waistline.

The high-style continues inside the C-HR, with a small-rimmed steering wheel, Alcantara-type cloth and (mostly, but not the lower half of the door cards) soft-touch plastics combine to deliver that impression.

It is good too seeing many actual buttons adorning upper parts of the dashboard. This therefore won’t be one of the vehicles which will have to be overhauled by January 2026: Euro NCAP has just announced that certain physical controls must exist for a car to gain a top safety rating. How Volvo, for example, must be regretting what it chose to do with the EX30. Was deleting the wiper/washer stalk, lighting controls and mirror-twiddling knob an attempt to save a few krona per vehicle? If so, this will prove to have been costly.

Why TMC keeps winning world-wide

Toyota has long been the smartest of all OEMs. An obsession with customer care worldwide, treating suppliers as partners whilst expecting they design and deliver faultless components keeps on paying dividends. Literally. And, looking far ahead whilst considering every new technology and never going all-in on just the one.

Consider the approach to electrification: this company will be watching hawk-like to see how Honda’s new plug-in-EV-with-a-fuel-cell does in California and Japan, the only markets so far confirmed for the model.

Back in Europe, the new C-HR is a large part of the reason – along with the Yaris, Yaris Cross and Corolla – why Toyota remains in that number two regional slot. That it is gaining on VW speaks volumes about how rapidly markets can shift. It isn’t so much a case of HEV versus EV; rather it is about having cars which function as brilliantly as they look. Many of the Japanese marque’s rivals have work to do in this area.

You sit in the C-HR and everything is right where you would wish it to be. The door bins won’t take a 1.5-litre bottle, but there is so much space to store anything else, while the glovebox and a central cubby are huge. The obligatory touchscreen naturally exists atop the middle of the dashboard, yet this one is neither overloaded nor oversized.

A few foibles

In the trim level of the press car, the driver’s eyes are monitored. A few times there was a false accusation (via an aggressively worded message also lacking a please) of looking away.

Would that the surveillance system report its own C pillars’ width to Toyota each time I tried to exit my street into a familiar A-road. They are almost dangerous, and it is rare for me to think that about any car at this junction. No matter where I turned my head, vision was blocked. It became almost a case of the quick or the dead. Well, perhaps the collided-with. The other issue is a meagre amount of glass in the rear windows. It’s a gorgeous shape but surely practicality must come first?

Acceleration off the mark is good, CO2 equally so (it will be even better in the forthcoming PHEV) and I saw an impressive 54.6 mpg. Toyota hybrid systems have come a long way, the company really putting the work in over the decades to reinvent and continually hone such powertrains.


Would I recommend the C-HR? Indeed I would, though rear seat space for legs could be a touch better. Kids in booster seats are likely to be placed back there so even that probably isn’t an issue for the buyers TME and TGB are seeking. The mix of style, space, comfort and convenience are compelling.

The Toyota C-HR HEV is priced from GBP31,290 (104 kW/140 PS 1.8-litre Icon), prices rising to GBP42,720 for the as-tested 147 kW/197 PS 2.0-litre Premiere Edition. All are front-wheel drive with CO2 emissions of between 105 and 110 g/km.

Source from Just Auto

Disclaimer: The information set forth above is provided by just-auto.com independently of Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com makes no representation and warranties as to the quality and reliability of the seller and products.

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