Toyota C-HR review: we drive the non-hybrid version

“It rides, handles and steers nicely for a car of this type, but…”

ToyotaCHR drive1

Bit mad looking, that…
Too right. Welcome to our review of the Toyota C-HR. The non-hybrid one, with a regular 1.2-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and front-wheel drive. Toyota doesn’t seem to be a fan of diesel, so if the hybrid doesn’t appeal or you want a manual gearbox, this is your only alternative.

This is the one to buy, then?
Correct. The Hybrid’s a good tax-dodge if you’re a company car driver, but it’s saddled with a droney CVT gearbox that makes any kind of meaningful acceleration a tiresomely noisy process.

This is a shame, because the C-HR handles rather well. It’s based on the same New Global Architecture platform as the Prius, which means a low centre of gravity and clever multi-link rear suspension. It rides, handles and steers nicely for a car of this type – but the hybrid drivetrain saps all the fun out of driving it.

That’s why we reckon this one’s a better bet. The 1.2 is by no means a remarkable engine, technologically or otherwise, but it at least gets a proper, manual gearbox. It’s turbocharged but could probably do with another few pound feet of boost – beating anything away from the lights requires a concerted effort. But the power delivery is at least smooth and predictable, and it doesn’t seem especially noisy or stressed once you’re on move. The gearbox itself is a six-speeder and nice enough to use.

ToyotaCHR drive3

What are the numbers?
The engine produces 113bhp and 184Nm, leading to a 0-100kph time of 10.9 secs and a 190kph top speed. CO2 emissions are 135g/km and the claimed mpg 47.9. You’ll get mid- to high-30s.

What the rest of it like?
Well, the looks are growing on us for starters. But a word of warning: the C-HR is quite spec-dependent. Our test car didn’t look like the one in these photos, with its twinkly LED headlights and 18-inch alloys. It arrived with plainer 17s, and no LEDs or contrast roof. With a car as, erm, ‘bold’ as the C-HR, you really need those little flourishes for the full effect.

It’s good inside, though. Toyota’s best cabin for some time. The design brings the screen right up into driver’s eye-line, but the touch buttons that flank it still aren’t as user friendly as regular ones. No tactile feedback means you’re still taking your eyes off the road.

Space is adequate, even in the back, but rear-seat passengers won’t enjoy being there for long because the side-view is obstructed by those vast c-pillars (the very same ones responsible for the sizable rear three-quarter blind spot). The materials are broadly fine, but the hexagonal door trims are just awful. And so’s the clock.

But clock aside, this petrol C-HR is a likeable thing. We’d have it over the hybrid, certainly. And you should, too.

- Tom Harrison

ToyotaCHR drive5

Toyota C-HR 1.2L Icon 5dr
Engine: 1,197cc, turbo, 4-cylinder DOHC, 113bhp, 184Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 1,320kg

Author: TopGear
TopGear is the world’s best-selling motoring magazine. The Malaysian edition holds similar status, as acknowledged by the industry.