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Corolla Cross made Toyota question new C-HR

Toyota C-HR prevailed despite internal debate over Corolla Cross cannibalisation

18 Mar 2024

THE second-generation Toyota C-HR small SUV that launched in Australia this week with hybrid-only power, punchy GR Sport range-topper and big price rises could easily have been canned before its designers put pen to paper. 

As the design-led crossover shares a segment with its more conventional and practical Corolla Cross stablemate, Toyota weighed up the C-HR's future with the same kinds of questions many outside the company still have: Why does it need to exist? 
Speaking at the Australian Toyota C-HR launch, the new model’s chief engineer, Toshio Kanei, revealed that he and his colleagues went into this project with a markedly different approach to the first-gen model line. 
“I developed the second generation of this iconic product as a ‘white sheet’ challenge,” he said. “It may surprise you that the first challenge was to get approval for this project, itself. 
“After we introduced the first C-HR as a global product, with its emotional coupe-like silhouette, there was also strong customer demand for a more conventional family compact SUV,” he said, referring to the Corolla Cross.  
“So when we started the concept study of the second-generation C-HR, some of our top executives challenged me, ‘is another C-HR really necessary?’’ 
Mr Kanei said Toyota’s first-gen C-HR was an important model for Toyota, offering something unexpected from the brand. 
He saw it as his very own challenge to make the second-gen model arrive with “more sophistication”, and to “build on that success, not change it”. 
Whether the second-generation C-HR can repeat the original’s success in Australia could hinge on a lofty starting price of $42,990 plus on-road costs – some $11,275 more than its predecessor at entry level. 
The new C-HR line-up consists of three models, with the entry-level GXL and mid-spec Koba ($49,990 + ORC) using the same powertrain but separated significantly by standard specifications, while the new range-topping GR Sport, at $54,990 + ORC has a more powerful hybrid system with a bigger engine plus all-wheel drive. 
In Europe – where Mr Kanei is now based – the C-HR will also be sold with a plug-in hybrid option, which he said will likely account for 25 per cent of sales on the continent. 
This driveline is not under consideration for Australia, where it would likely nudge already high C-HR prices deeper into Lexus UX territory – a model it already overlaps with on price (the least-expensive hybrid UX being $54,320 + ORC). 
Made in Turkey and destined only for the European and Australian markets, the new C-HR is unchanged in terms of wheelbase (still 2640mm) and the overall dimensions have become slightly more compact, at 4362mm long (-33mm). 
However it is now 1832mm wide (+37mm), and 1564mm tall for Koba and GR Sport models (was 1550mm). 
In the absence of a plug-in hybrid is a choice of two petrol-electric powertrains, with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a hybrid transaxle to deliver a combined system output of 103kW, which is 14 per cent more than the outgoing C-HR hybrid. 
The petrol engine develops 72kW/142Nm, and the electric motor contributes 70kW. Gone is the nickel-metal hydride battery, in favour of a larger-capacity lithium-ion unit.  
GR Sport trim ups the ante with a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 112kW/188Nm assisted by a pair of electric motors – the front providing 83kW and the rear 30kW. As a result, the combined power figure jumps to 146kW. 
No matter the version, an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is used. 
Fuel consumption for the GXL and Koba models is rated at 4.0 litres per 100km (89g/km CO2), while the GR Sport uses slightly more, with an official figure of 4.1L/100km (94g/km CO2). Fuel tank capacity is 43 litres for all grades. 
The C-HR maintains a decent towing capacity, with a maximum rating of 725kg. Weights for the range start at 1455kg for the GXL, through to 1490kg for the mid-spec Koba and up to 1575kg for the AWD GR Sport. 
Boot space for the GXL and Koba models is 388 litres, while the GR Sport has 362 litres thanks to its AWD underpinnings. Only the GXL has a spare wheel (a space-saver at that), while the Koba and GR Sport make do with a tyre repair kit. All have tyre pressure monitoring.  
All grades score a 12.3-inch infotainment screen with wireless and wired Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, satellite and cloud navigation, DAB+ digital radio, and Toyota Connected Services technology suite, which attracts a subscription cost after 12 months. 
The GXL variant includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior lighting (headlights, daytime running lights, tail-lights), and inside there’s sports front seats with manual adjustment, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch driver display, six-speaker sound system, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and start, 360-degree camera system and Toyota’s comprehensive Safety Sense active driver assistance technologies. 
Mid-tier Koba trim costs $7000 more in return for bi-LED headlights with auto-levelling and adaptive high beam, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats with fabric/synthetic suede upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings, a larger 12.3-inch instrumentation display, nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, powered tailgate, head-up display, wireless smartphone charging pad, and ambient LED cabin lighting. 
Topping the range, the GR Sport variant adds model-specific black 19-inch alloys, sports exterior styling, upgraded brakes, a heated steering wheel, GR Sport front seats with synthetic leather/suede upholstery, and GR branded floor mats, steering wheel and scuff plates. 
Optionally, the GR Sport is available with a fixed panoramic roof and two-tone paint scheme ($2700). 
Toyota offers six choices of colour for the GXL, while Koba and GR Sports models are available with a two-tone finish with a black roof. However, the standout option is the so-called “Two-Tone Plus” finish with black painted roof and rear flanks. 
As with the other Toyota models, there’s a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with up to seven years of powertrain cover for vehicles with full Toyota dealer service history. 
Up to 10 years of battery warranty is also offered for vehicles maintained with the brand’s service network. Servicing is due every 12 months/15,000km, with a capped-price plan for the first five years/75,000km at $200 per interval during that period. 
2024 Toyota C-HR pricing* 
GXL (a) 
Koba (a) 
GR Sport AWD (a) 
*excludes on-road costs

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