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Driven: Crucial Toyota C-HR baby SUV arrives

Coupe High-Rider: Toyota’s baby of the SUV ranges has arrived with radical styling that honours even the wild original concept sketches.

Toyota’s C-HR compact crossover foray touches down from $26,990 BOCs

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Toyota logo24 Feb 2017

By DANIEL GARDNER

IT MAY be relatively late to the party but Toyota has, at last, weighed into the competitive but potentially lucrative compact SUV market with its eagerly awaited C-HR, which kicks off from $26,990 before on-road costs.

That price confirms that the Japanese car-maker is positioning its new arrival away from some more affordable and popular rivals and at a more premium end of the market, including current segment leaders – the $19,990 Mazda CX-3 and $24,990 HR-V from Honda.

Despite its more premium price, the newest entrant to the compact segment appears to have the correct strategy as explained by Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb.

When asked if customers should expect a wait for their C-HR, Mr Cramb replied “frankly, I do,” and likened the launch of the baby SUV to the launch of the company’s GT 86 sports coupe, which proved wildly popular with an extended waiting list.

“This will be like 86 when it launched,” he said. “That’s our single biggest concern is trying to manage our guest’s expectations. Actually we will be launching some digital initiatives where they can track their vehicle but it is going to be an issue.”“The interest that we’ve had, considering the car hasn’t actually gone on sale has been fantastic. We’ve definitely got more than a month’s sales in pre-orders.”

Mr Cramb revealed that Australia would be getting about 6000 C-HRs in the first year of sales but that figure was limited by production capacity at the Japanese factory and he expects a greater number to be offered Down Under in 2018.

Toyota does not expect the base manual two-wheel drive to attract the majority of sales, with the automatic option and a higher-spec Koba already attracting more attention than anticipated.

Mr Cramb confirmed that the company was not targeting customers that will be drawn to the entry-level C-HR, with a focus instead on a Koba-level buyer.

“In this segment, the majority of customers are looking for specification. They’re looking for the niceties of life and they are prepared to downsize,” he said.

“Initially 60/40 (base to Koba) but it will probably end up around 50/50 … The orders are a much higher percentage of Koba than we had anticipated.”

Adding the automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) to the base C-HR costs $2000, while upgrading the front-wheel-drive drive-line to four-wheel drive costs another $2000 and is only available as an automatic.

At the top of the pack, the auto-only Koba costs $33,290 for the front-drive version, while the AWD flagship rounds out the five-variant range at $35,290.

Regardless of the variant customers opt for, each C-HR is powered by a new 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with a single-scroll turbo blowing through an air-to-liquid charge cooler with direct injection, and the ability to run on the more efficient Atkinson cycle thanks to a new version of Toyota’s variable valve technology dubbed VVT-iW.

Peak power is rated at 85kW with 185Nm of torque and fuel economy ranges from 6.3 litres per 100km for the manual, 6.4L/100km for the two-wheel drive auto and all-wheel drive takes the consumption up one more click to 6.5L/100km.

Emissions comply with the latest Euro 6 regulations ranging from 141g per kilometre to 148g.

Under the head-turning new skin, which fuses angular upright crossover with sporty coupe, the C-HR rolls on Toyota’s new TNGA (GA-C) platform which has been engineered for lightness without compromising on safety or rigidity.

Front suspension is a more commonplace MacPherson strut arrangement with electric power steering but at the back end, the C-HR has a more performance-focused double wishbone layout for a “crisp driving experience while maintaining high levels of ride quality.”

Steel ball joints also replace cheaper rubber bushings for further improved handling and responsiveness.

In addition to the traction benefits, four-wheel-drive versions of the C-HR also get a Dynamic Torque Control system to increase cornering grip, while also conserving fuel, says Toyota.

Three drive modes allow the driver to select an Eco, Normal or Sport setting, the latter for more enthusiastic driving with a more sensitive accelerator and heavier steering, while cars with the CVT have seven simulated gear ratios.

Standard safety systems include pre-collision with autonomous braking, active cruise control, lane-departure warning with steering assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a reversing camera, trailer sway control for towing, hill hold, EBD, front and rear parking radar, seven airbags and rain-sensing wipers.

The nose of the base C-HR wears halogen headlights complemented by LED daytime running lamps and LED fog-lights, while the top-spec Koba has LED headlights to match LED tail-lights at the other end.

Entry-level C-HRs roll on 17-inch alloy wheels while the more generously-equipped versions have an 18-inch set.

On the inside, all C-HRs have navigation, 6.1-inch central information screen for accessing the six-speaker stereo system, Bluetooth connectivity and Toyota Link services, which include a service station finder, local searches, destination download, weather, Pandora and travel time functions.

The standard C-HR cabin is also decked out with fabric seats with six-way adjustment in the front row, a 12-volt power socket, electrically-folding door mirrors, self-dimming rear-view mirror, two-way adjustable steering column, while occupants are welcomed by a C-HR light-puddle after dark.

Stepping up to the Koba variety adds a number of comfort features including keyless entry and start, part-leather upholstery with heaters for the front seats, privacy glass, illumination for the sun visors and door trims as well as a number of customisation options.

Depending on the colour, owners can give their C-HR a more bespoke look with either a white or black roof for $450 to contrast the paint, which is on offer in eight colours including vivid Electric Teal, Hornet Yellow and Tidal Blue.

Koba C-HR’s also include Toyota’s Nano-e air-conditioning system which produces more humid air compared with conventional systems for improved occupant comfort in all temperatures.

2017 Toyota C-HR pricing*
2WD$26,990
2WD (a)$28,990
4WD (a)$30,990
Koba 2WD (a)$33,290
Koba 4WD (a)$35,290
*Excludes on-road costs

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