First Drive: 2017 Toyota C-HR

First Drive: 2017 Toyota C-HR

While many sectors of the new car market continue to feel the effects of a weak economy, the small SUV segment, thankfully, continues to be positive. Toyota, with the introduction of their C-HR, believes it is time to tap in to that growth point, writes Bruce Fraser

What is this car all about?

There is a definite trend not only in South Africa, but worldwide, of people moving out of sedans and in to SUVs. It has been a long time coming, but Toyota have taken a radical departure from their usual staid approach to design and come up with a vehicle for the so-called ”urban individual.”

What’s under the hood?

At last local motorists get a chance to experience Toyota’s new 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine. Delivering 85kW of power and a maximum torque figure of 185Nm, it can either be hooked up to a six-speed manual or CVT transmission.

Does is stand out from the crowd?

Does it ever! Just when one thought strong assertive lines, deep sculptured enclaves, protruding lights and innovative thinking was the sole preserve of sister company Lexus, along comes Toyota with the radical C-HR. This car makes a forceful statement and you must be half-blind not to take note of it.

What’s noteworthy on the inside?

Toyota’s innovative approach to the exterior doesn’t quite carry over to the cabin. It’s more functional than frivolous, but more often than not that can be a good thing. Your list of comfort and safety features largely depend on whether you opt for standard or ”plus” model but either way specification levels are quite high. Spicing things up, though, are elements such as satin silver trim accents and cool blue illumination.

Is it good to drive?

The jury is always out around the CVT option, and although it appears quite smooth on the road, the manual box proved the more agreeable during a short drive around Gauteng. The new turbo engine – even at altitude – is plenty willing and appears to be pretty frugal on juice. A word of warning though: this car attracts attention left, right and centre so be prepared for plenty of questions and the odd selfie.

Who’s going to lose sleep about this car?

There are going to be a few manufacturers – Mazda with their CX-3 and Nissan with their Juke readily come to mind – handing out Sominil tablets to their sales and marketing teams as Toyota come hard at them with the C-HR. One consolation for the opposition, is Toyota have only been allocated a limited number of units – approximately 150 a month.

2017 Toyota C-HR Pricing:

  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T 6MT: R318 500
  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T 6MT Plus: R345 000
  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T CVT Plus: R356 000