THE crossover sector is now so overcrowded that you need to get radical to stand out from the masses.

That’s the thinking behind Toyota’s C-HR (Coupe-High Rider), possibly the best example to date of the company’s aim to deliver eye-catching designs.

If Batman ever fancied stepping out from his supercar and into something greener and more practical but still with the looks to tempt Catwoman to go for a spin, then the C-HR might be his top choice.

Its coupe-like lines are sharper than a University Challenge team captain, built for people who are predominantly driven by emotional considerations.

Measuring 4,360mm long, 1,795mm wide and 1,565mm high, and with a 2,640mm wheelbase, the CH-R remains faithful to the concept that was first shown in Paris in 2014. Prominent, projecting wheel arches at each corner emphasise the vehicle’s strength and rigidity, while a powerful lower body and raised ground clearance combine with a slim and sleek cabin profile.

A slender upper grille flowing from the Toyota emblem into the sleek extremities of the headlamp units, cleverly disguised rear door handles integrated into the rear pillars, a sweeping roofline and tapered rear end with a top-hinged tailgate that gives access to load space big enough to carry luggage for five people complete the picture.

On the outside at least, this Toyota is a winner.

The cabin is airy and spacious, with only the inclusion of some hard plastics and manual operation of the seats the only obvious clues that this is a Toyota rather than a Lexus. Surprisingly, the low roofline calls for only a slight compromise in headroom for rear seat passengers, thanks to the lower seating positions made possible by a new platform.

A central eight-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard, bringing controls within easy reach. The Toyota Safety Sense package (which comes as standard across all three trim levels) includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering control, automatic high beam and road sign assist. Excel grade models feature heated front seats, a smart entry system, rear privacy glass, part-leather upholstery, park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

For customers who want a stronger, design-led specification, the Dynamic versions provide exclusive seat upholstery and alloy wheels, bi-tone paint finish with contrasting black roof and LEDs for all lights, including the headlights.

The C-HR has undergone its first important updates since its launch in 2016 and now boasts an all-hybrid line-up and benefits from new equipment features and dynamic improvements.

It also follows the new Corolla in adopting Toyota’s dual hybrid strategy, giving customers the choice of a new-generation 1.8-litre hybrid system or a more powerful new 2.0-litre powertrain tested here.

Available in Icon, Design, Excel and Dynamic equipment grades, it comes with a hefty starting price of £25,625.

The 120bhp 1.8-litre hybrid system remains in the range, but with its eco performance enhanced by an upgrade to a lithium-ion high-voltage battery and by size, weight and efficiency improvements in all its principal hybrid components.

The additional 2.0-litre powertrain produces 182bhp, with CO2 emissions only slightly higher at 92g/km. As well as greater power and higher efficiency, the 2.0-litre versions benefit from uprated suspension and improved noise and vibration countermeasures.

It is a fun car to drive, even if you are constantly monitoring the hybrid system to see where and when you are employing the electric drive mode to save on fuel.

With brisk acceleration made even more appealing by the sport mode, and fuel economy of more than 50mpg, the C-HR performs as good as it looks.


Toyota C-HR Dynamic 2.0 Hybrid

Price: £32,510 (C-HR range from £26,245)

Powertrain: Four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with electric motor to produce 181bhp

Transmission: Electric CVT

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.2 seconds; top speed 112mph

Economy: 49.5-54.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 92g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***