The Toyota C-HR is the edgy choice in the popular compact family car/crossover segment and the range is now headlined by the 1.2T Luxury derivative, which offers more comfort, convenience and safety features. Is it worth the additional outlay?
We Like: Styling, performance, added features, ride and handling
We Don’t Like: Compromised luggage bay, poor rearward visibility,
Price: R426 300 (December 2018)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbopetrol
Power/Torque: 85 kW / 185 Nm
Transmission: CVT (automatic)
0-100 kph: 11.1 secs
Top speed: 185 kph
Fuel economy: 6.4 L/100 km
Serious About Buying?
What is it?
The C-HR's expressive design has made it a popular choice in the compact crossover segment.
Built on Toyota's New Global Architecture, the C-HR is an edgy-looking compact family car/crossover that has proven popular in the local market since its launch in early 2017. The 1.2T Luxury derivative on test here is the latest addition to the range and is easily identified by its bi-tone colour scheme, including a black roof, roof pillars and black side-mirrors (a total of 5 body colours are available). It also comes fitted with LED headlights and LED fog lamps while riding on 18-inch alloy wheels.
We think the C-HR is one of the better-looking cars in this segment, which partly explains its popularity in our market. Let’s take a look at how it performs overall...
Perfectly suited to driving in the city, the C-HR offers ample performance, while the CVT takes the stress out of congested city traffic situations.
The C-HR might not be as fast as it looks, but it serves up more than enough shove to cope in city and highway driving scenarios. A plucky 1.2-litre turbopetrol engine delivers 85 kW and 185 Nm of torque with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) driving the front wheels.
While we still prefer the manual version of the C-HR (not offered in Luxury trim), the CVT provides added convenience, especially for driving in congested city traffic. It’s acceptably responsive to throttle inputs and delivers good performance overall even though it doesn't feel as perky as its "stick-shift" counterpart. The CVT can, however, be shifted into manual mode, which allows a driver to manipulate the transmission's "ratios" (steps) to make the most of the engine's performance characteristics.
In terms of fuel consumption, Toyota claims 6.4 L/100 km but during our test period, the trip computer returned figures in the region of 8.0 L/100 km.
Good ride quality and handling
Surefooted handling and a comfortable ride quality make the C-HR an easy car to live with.
By crossover standards, the C-HR sits relatively low, has a wide track and feels well planted and agile when cornering. The steering is light, almost feathery, which is great for manoeuvring in the city, but it might be too light for those who prefer a firmer-feeling tiller. Nonetheless, the C-HR delivers a pleasing drive and its smooth and pliant ride quality further adds to the appeal: road imperfections are well-absorbed, without feeling crashy. Suffice to say the Toyota's a comfortable car to drive daily...
Comprehensive standard features
The cabin is smart and comfortable. Features such as front and rear PDC with a rearview camera are welcome additions in this derivative.
We like the classy, modern and minimalist cabin of the C-HR, but where this derivative shines is the standard features department. Buyers will be happy to know that front and rear park distance control with a reverse-view camera is standard, as is Intelligent Park Assist (IPA) which is a welcome addition to the features list.
The leather seats are heated (at the front, for added comfort on those colder days) and the driver can adjust the lumbar support electronically. The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach with mounted controls for the audio, Bluetooth and multi-information display.
The infotainment system is easy to use and offers built-in navigation and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
The infotainment system offers navigation as well as being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. A USB port is also provided, but it’s positioned in an impractical position (on the edge of the touchscreen), which means that when you use a cable, it tends to dangle across the fascia, which isn’t ideal. Other notable features include keyless entry, push-button start, electric windows and side mirrors, cruise control and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.
Safety features have been beefed up too and this derivative boasts a total of 7 airbags as well as ABS with EBD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Brake Assist (BA). ISOfix child seat mounts are also fitted.
What’s not so good?
Practicality's not the C-HR's strength
Taller rear passengers might find legroom to be a squeeze.
Due to its funky packaging, the C-HR’s luggage capacity is limited. The load bay is high up and not very deep so you will have to pack carefully to squeeze all your luggage in. You can, however, drop the 60:40 split rear seats to maximise loading space. As we discovered on previous tests, the C-HR is not really a sensible family car but it’s far more suited to childless couples who want to drive a stylish crossover with a bit more space than a conventional hatchback.
Rear passenger comfort is average, but legroom and headroom could be problematic for taller aft passengers. The large and expansive doors and C-pillars limits the rear passenger’s view out of the smaller rear windows and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are a trifle hemmed in while seated in the rear.
The large C-pillars and smaller rear windscreen also hamper the driver’s rearward visibility, they create unwanted blind spots, so you will have to check and check again before executing your lane changes.
Another small gripe is that the piano black interior trim attracts fingerprints and dust so it might be worthwhile keeping a cloth in the car to regularly wipe the fascia down.
Price and warranty
The Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury is priced from R426 300 and is sold with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and a 6-service/90 000 km service plan.
Although this C-HR is packed with features, it's a pricey choice; there are more affordable (and practical!) products on offer in this segment.
This C-HR makes a strong case for itself by offering compelling styling and a raft of useful comfort and convenience features. However, these changes come at a cost and with a price tag of just below R430 000, the C-HR 1.2T Luxury is a pricey option in this segment, especially when one considers that there are more practical and spacious products on offer for less money. If your budget can’t stretch that far, then it’s best to consider more affordable options in the C-HR range such as the 1.2T Plus derivative priced at R369 200 or opt for something more practical in the form of the Honda HR-V.
Nonetheless, keen-eyed fashion conscious buyers will argue that none of the C-HR rivals looks quite as good as the 1.2T Luxury and, in a world where looks matter a lot, that counts for something. Toyota’s reputation for reliability and a widespread dealer network also needs to be factored into your decision.
Alternatives (Click on names to view specification details)
Hyundai’s new Kona brings some style and flair to the table and offers good outputs of 110 kW and 180 Nm of torque from its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Kona 2.0 Executive is priced at R399 900, while the Kona 1.0T manual (with 88 kW and 172 Nm) is priced at R379 900. The Kona is also backed with a comprehensive 5-year/150 000 km warranty, 7-year/200 000 km drivetrain warranty and 5-year/90 000 km service plan.
The Mazda CX-3 is a stylish choice in this segment and this derivative offers up 115 kW and 205 Nm of torque from its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine (mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission). The range-topping CX-3 Individual Plus automatic is priced from R404 200 and has many of the features offered on the C-HR.
The HR-V is more spacious (and therefore, practical) than the C-HR and offers 105 kW and 172 Nm from its naturally aspirated 1.8-litre engine. It too is mated with a CVT, but it’s not particularly exciting to drive. In terms of pricing, like the C-HR 1.2T Luxury, the HR-V sits higher in the price range with a price tag of R419 900.