New Toyota C-HR 2023 review: not that practical, but highly efficient

The new C-HR is refined, well-equipped and good to drive, but it all comes at a cost

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    While space up front is very good, the second row isn’t quite as impressive. Once you fold yourself through the small door aperture, head and legroom is only average for the class, feeling tighter at times thanks to those small windows, dark headlining and solid front seatbacks. All in, it creates a slightly claustrophobic feeling, even if it’s not quite as cramped back there as it seems. 

    It’s the driving experience where the C-HR scores highly, though. The ride quality is particularly impressive, with a flowing gate to body motions without feeling overly soft. The wheels are also well controlled, and together with the car’s more rigid body, helps the C-HR’s overall refinement and composure. However, time in higher grades with their larger wheels shows the ride deteriorates with every inch gained – up to 20-inches on the GR Sport. 

    The fifth-generation 136bhp hybrid system in this case pairs a 1.8-litre four-cylinder with a small integrated electric motor and battery pack. Just like you’ll find in many of Toyota’s recent models, the car relies on the petrol engine less than you’d expect given the tiny supporting battery, and equates to good low-speed performance, refinement and efficiency. Taking 10.2 seconds to hit 62mph, it’s no firecracker, but the flipside is a very achievable 60.1mpg on the combined cycle, with a relatively low 105g/km CO2 rating helping things along the way.

    There is a caveat when pushing on, though, as the hybrid system’s reliance on the CVT means in order to find any performance, the engine will weil and rev. As one of the few hybrid powertrains still using an un-stepped CVT, it makes driving at a faster pace feel somewhat out of the C-HR’s comfort zone. It’s best to keep things calmer and resist the temptation to dip into the car’s outright performance. 

    Which is a shame, because there’s nothing inherently wrong about the way the C-HR goes around a corner. It feels relatively light-footed and composed, and while the steering is a touch light, it is precise without feeling nervous. In reality, the C-HR drives better than it needs to, but if you’re looking for easy and relaxing get up and go, the smaller of the two hybrids has its limitations.

    Model: Toyota C-HR Design
    Price: £34,685
    Engine: 1.8-litre petrol, hybrid
    Power/torque: 138bhp/185Nm
    Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
    0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
    Top speed: 106mph
    Economy/CO2: 60.1mpg/106g/km
    On sale: Now

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