Let’s be frank about something. In this day and age, you won’t find too many people flocking to Toyota dealerships – parallel importers included – to part with precious ringgit for a sportscar like the GT86. Instead, you’ll often see more opting to drive away with one of the marque’s many crossover models.
The appeal of Toyota crossovers, regardless of size and price, is simple: they’re large and practical enough for family chores, easy and economical enough for daily driving, not to mention their renowned hassle-free maintenance. It’s a no-brainer choice to many.
With the arrival of the C-HR, however, you can now have all that and the one thing missing in its stablemates, that being style.
One glance is enough to confirm it. The combination of its steeply swooped roofline, our tester’s attractive blue contrasting with its black roof and body panel colour scheme, snazzy 17-inch alloy wheels, and sharp head and tail lights design, the former sporting distinct LED DRLs too, makes this crossover a head turner wherever it goes.
The inside feels as good. The Malaysian model UMW Toyota officially imports gets plush black leather seat covers paired with soft-touch plastic and high-end fabric in all the right places. Couple that with the snazzy design motif and the contrasting yet subtle brown leather trim and door cards, and it’s easy to see this crossover is in sync with current times.
Simply explained, the Toyota C-HR makes many of its rivals look rather bland. Of course, looks aren’t everything. Certainly, what came after the awe caused by its looks was the curiosity about its practicality and performance. Well, it does stand up to the test, albeit with a few quirks.
Starting with the most obvious, you can’t ignore the rather small rear doors and windows, and the thick C-pillar. Taller folks will find it a tad difficult to climb in and out there, while, inside, it’s rather cramped. Perhaps that’s the price one needs to pay for the pretty styling.
If you can live with those quirks, the C-HR packs enough creature comforts and features to make any commute, long or short, less mundane. Things like keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, neat infotainment with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and reverse camera function support this car’s credentials as an easy daily ride.
As expected of any Toyota crossover, the C-HR delivers a smooth, easy drive. There’s plenty of go from the 1.8-litre twin-cam four-banger mounted up front. Primed with dual VVT-i variable valve timing, it sends 138bhp and 171Nm to the front wheels through a CVT automatic box.
Say what you will about most CVTs, we’re sure many agree Toyota has one of the most refined ones out there. Not only smooth on all occasions in the C-HR, it’s also efficient, especially in Eco mode and when one follows the interactive eco driving guide on the multi-info, full colour 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster.
The C-HR has two other modes, Normal and Sport, but lacks a dedicated toggle switch or button for it. Instead, you’ll need to use the right-side steering wheel controls and the multi-info display to switch between drive modes. Annoying, yes, but not as big a deal-breaker as its rather small 388-litre standard boot might be.
The C-HR’s saving grace lies in its decent on-road manners. While not as agile as its GT86 sportscar cousin, it does feel surprisingly sportier than most of its peers without sacrificing too much on comfort. Ensuring the comfort is its combination of a slightly lifted ride height, long-travel suspension with good damping and decent noise suppression.
Equally decent are its safety features: VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), seven airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, ABS, and RCTA (Rear Cross-Traffic Alert) that supplements the reverse camera.
Perhaps, to most, meeting this fully imported compact crossover’s premium price tag of RM150,000 might be the biggest stretch. It can’t be denied the C-HR is pricey for its size, but if you’re one who seeks something truly stylish with decent substance to match, the C-HR is second to none. Suddenly, school runs with the kids don’t look so bad after all…
Recently refreshed and arguably as stylish. Crucially, not a HR-V.
Very left-field, but very posh and turbocharged. Again, not a HR-V.
Very pricey and slightly impractical compared to its peers, but definitely the prettiest of the lot, with decent substance to back its obvious style.
|Engine||1.8-litre DOHC 4-cylinder petrol, FWD, 138bhp, 171Nm|