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Geneva show: Toyota confirms baby SUV for Australia

Game changer: Toyota has taken years to deliver its entry in the small SUV segment, but it looks like it might have been worth the wait.

Turbo power and new platform for Toyota's belated compact SUV, the C-HR.


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1 Mar 2016

THE hottest motor vehicle category in Australia just got a whole lot hotter with the announcement that Toyota Australia will get the all-new compact SUV, C-HR, from early 2017.

The baby of the extensive Toyota SUV range not only pushes the styling boundaries for the company but gets turbo power via a new blown 1.2-litre direct-injected engine.

Sitting on Toyota's new compact vehicle family architecture, the Corolla-sized five-door wagon – 4350mm long and 1795mm wide – was revealed overnight at the Geneva motor show, filling a yawning gap in the Toyota range.

The small SUV segment is the fastest growing vehicle class in Australia, having grown from fewer than 40,000 vehicles in 2011 to more than 110,000 last year.

The sub-RAV4 C-HR will go head to head with the likes of Mazda's CX-3, Mitsubishi's ASX, Honda's HR-V, Nissan's Qashqai and a raft of others.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the C-HR will be the company's first entrant in the highly competitive small SUV category, which has almost tripled in size during the past four years.

"C-HR will expand Toyota's market appeal with its stunning design and superb driving performance - with powerful low-end torque and outstanding handling and agility - all while delivering impressive fuel economy," he said.

While the C-HR is late to the party, Toyota will be banking on its up-to-the-minute design and technology to lift it to the top of the pack.

The company claims the all-new engine generates 85kW of power and 185Nm of torque, with the latter peaking at just 1500rpm and running to 4000rpm.

"Strong low-end torque enables the driver to achieve intended dynamic performance at the same time as Toyota's latest combustion and other engine technologies ensure excellent fuel efficiency," Toyota says.

In Australia, the engine will be standard equipment across a C-HR range that will include two- and all-wheel-drive variants and a choice of six-speed manual and continuously variable automatic transmissions.

Unlike many others in the class, the C-HR will be equipped with autonomous braking and reversing camera as standard equipment.

The C-HR has been a long time coming, having first been seen in three-door concept guise at the 2014 Paris motor show. A five-door version appeared at last September's Frankfurt show, setting the tone for the production version that is set to start rolling from Toyota factories later this year.

Despite the fact that Toyota has been fighting with one hand tied behind its back by not having a compact SUV below the RAV4 in its armoury, it is the number-one SUV brand in Australia, selling almost 60,000 units last year.

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