Toyota is looking to make a splash this year with its C-HR. Short for Compact High Rider, the compact crossover will be appearing at Autoshows across the country, following its debut in Montreal in January.
Aimed at buyers looking for something different, the C-HR definitely looks the part.
Aggressive headlight lenses, wild two-tone 17-inch wheels (those are standard), aggressively-sloping rear deck with twin spoilers and an almost two-door look thanks to partially-hidden door handles all make for one of the most compelling shapes in the compact crossover class, which seems to be growing by the minute.
Inside, deeply-hooded gauges and new infotainment interface with 7” display are obvious allusions to the C-HR appealing to younger buyers. To really drive the point home at the global launch at the Los Angeles International Auto Show last November, Toyota switched things up, eschewing the traditional launch presentation in favour of a DJ booth. C-HR occupants, meanwhile, will get to experience their favorite DJs through Bluetooth streaming audio, aha radio or by attaching to the C-HR’s USB port.
Of course, while all that flash and dash is important – and will likely be considered by the younger buyer – they often also want a car that’s fun-to-drive. Toyota has taken this to heart, going so far as actually performing the C-HR’s performance testing on the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife race course.
That means newly-developed suspension with urethane upper supports as well as some aluminum componentry. Not only will this improve the C-HR’s dynamics, but Toyota says the suspension, along with increased rigidity thanks to added spot welding and braces, will improve both ride quality and cabin comfort. Still, though; a compact crossover, tested on the ‘Ring? That’s some pretty heady stuff and not something you’d typically expect from a vehicle in this class.
Of course, handling is one thing, but if you’re going to imbue a sport vibe, then you need the power to back it up, too.
The C-HR’s four-cylinder is good for 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque, sent to the front wheels through a continuously-variable automatic transmission. Unfortunately, if you want the even sportier feeling of piloting a manual transmission, you’re out of luck as that’s not going to be an option.
Having said that: while CVTs have always been the efficient choice, Toyota has gone the extra mile and redesigned the pulleys and added a coaxial two-port oil pump system – that’s an industry first – to improve things even further. It works in concert with variable valve timing and Toyota’s Valvematic technology to further reduce fuel usage.
If you’re still looking for that little bit of extra performance, however, Toyota hasn’t forgotten about you: you won’t get a manual transmission, but the CVT does add a sport mode that increases the speed of the CVT’s “virtual” shift points. You’ll still feel like you’re driving a manual, still get that surge of power as the car “shifts up”, or as you do it yourself by bumping the shift lever left out of drive.
The final feather in the C-HR’s cap is the addition of Toyota Safety Sense, a suite of advanced safety features. It adds pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams. It’s tech we’ve seen before, but not necessarily at the entry level inhabited by a compact crossover like this.
Have a look for yourself at CIAS, which runs from February 17-26, 2017, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.