Someone’s clearly been reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Having closely followed the furore over the 2017 C-HR’s genre-breaking styling; which many said was too radical for the safe and staid Toyota brand, we were expecting much on-the-back-foot repositioning when a facelifted model came to market just one year on. After all, quality, reliability and durability are the name of the game in Toyota City, not an alarmingly sleek snout, brazenly raised sill lines and more jagged edges than a Zeita MOCAA installation.
However, stepping behind the wheel of the newest ‘Coupe High Rider’ isn’t a step back as much as a reassured leap forward, correcting some of its flaws and embracing its better nature. It immediately puts one in mind of a meet cute with a long lost flame; there’s a definite familiarity there but also renewed attraction as you take some of the new features Toyota’s California design studio has wrought to the stylish crossover.
Things like the new Luxury and Plus models’ bi-tone aesthetic: black roof, black pillars and side mirrors combine with four exterior colours (White Pearl, Cinnabar Red metallic, Lunar Metallic or Caribbean Blue) to create a C-HR that’s individualised to your taste. They’ve taken the magic wand to the head- and tail-lamps, too, with smoked glass all around and full LED tech with daytime running lights (DRL) for maximum visual clout. Stylish new 18-inch alloy wheels complete the package on the two top-spec models.
But that’s not all, as they say in the late night infomercials, because, the bi-tone theme continues on the inside, with a distinct upper and lower dashboard layout incorporating soft-touch leather and contrasting stitching. New mod cons include a colour multi-information display, keyless-entry with push-button starter, and park distance control (PDC) with park assist to expertly maneuver you into any parking bay so you don’t ding those swish bumpers of yours.
The new infotainment system, nestled in the almost 3D-effect fascia, is feature rich, with the sort of touchscreen interface millennials, or even millennials’ parents will enjoy. Programmed with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto Plus and clever mirroring apps, it can run a vast array of music and navigation options such as Google Maps, Waze, and Soundcloud; device dependent of course, but there is still the traditional USB interface and Bluetooth telephony for the old folks. And if it’s airbags you’re after, the top-spec Luxury model gets an additional of driver knee, curtain and side airbag, bringing the grand total to nine. That’s a whole lot of airbags.
On the launch, one gentleman came bounding from his Prado; clearly a Toyota fan, and was quite taken with it, commenting it looked so radical, ‘It must be some sort of hybrid!’ Fraid not, sir, just a downsized 1.2-litre turbo petrol, same as before, in manual or easy-driving CVT. VVTi-W with direct injection, switchable Otto vs Atkinson cycles and high compression delivers an efficient, usable 85 kW and 185 Nm of torque between 1 500 and 4 000 rpm. It’s not exactly a rocket ship with a 0 to 100 km/h sprint of 10.9 seconds and the top speed of 190 km/h, but Toyota SA says you will consume just 6.4 l/100 km and emit 144 g/km of CO2 in the two-pedal CVT, which is bang on the industry standard for this sort of car. Despite its crossover appearance, there’s no all-wheel drive, hybrid or diesel derivative in the pipeline for the South African market.
While late to the party, admittedly, you can think of Toyota’s revised C-HR crossover as the whole kit and caboodle. All that the (soon to be discontinued) Nissan Juke and the bleh Honda H-RV were shooting for but somehow couldn’t achieve. In facelifted form, it’s the most radically styled of all the anime-inspired Japanese high hatches and because it’s a Toyota and this is South Africa, every ou auntie and every oupa pulls over to have a look and a chat.
Not long after the business man in his Prado, a housewife approached to enquire about the asking price, she wants to downsize from her Rav4. ‘Starting from R336k? Oh that’s nothing,’ she exclaims, as if she was hoping to take the keys out of my hands right there and then and drive off into the sunset.
This is where the new C-HR should prove unstoppable. As trailblazing as some of its competitors were, the C-HR turns heads that much more, the drive is that much better defined and it’s a reliable, soundly-built Toyota. Hallelujah, the world’s most conservative brand has finally cottoned onto the fact that engineering, reliability and durability alone do not a car maketh. We hear calls for the C-HR factory in Turkey to double production have already been dispatched.
For more information on the Toyota C-HR visit toyota.co.za
|C-HR 1.2T||R336 000|
|C-HR 1.2T Plus||R 365 500|
|C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT||R 377 000|
|C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT||R 422 100|