Toyota’s march away from a fusty phase continues

GONE are the days when Toyota was known solely for its reliability and its place as a cabbies’ go-to brand.
C-HR hybridC-HR hybrid
C-HR hybrid

A shift in mindset that delivered the Yaris GR hyper hatch, GR86 coupe and polished Supra GT has injected more than a slice of cool.

It could be argued that the C-HR hybrid started this transition and, in its latest guise, it has cemented its place as Toyota’s style flagship.

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Prices start at £31,290 in 142PS Icon trim, rising through Design, Excel, GR Sport and Premier Edition to reach £42,720.

A 226PS plug-in hybrid – claiming a 41-mile electric range and 19g/km CO2 emissions – starts at £39,145.

We tested the £40,645, 200PS GR Sport hybrid. So, no plug, 8.1-second acceleration to 62mph, fuel economy from 58mpg and 110g/km CO2 emissions.

Flush door handles emerged as the car unlocks and contrasting black roof and C-pillars added drama to Toyota’s “concept car for the road”.

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There are design flaws, however. Despite a decent 364-litre boot and room for two adults, those broad C-pillars, a high shoulder line and small windows render its rear quarters rather gloomy.

A wide centre console also eats into the front seat passenger’s legroom.

Toyota’s cabin is stylish and driver-centric.

The sports seats look fantastic, there is 64-colour ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch infotainment system and a colour instrument display accesses the settings menu need to deactivate a myriad of safety-conscious chimes, as toggle switches access the climate control.

There are heated front seats and steering wheel, a JBL sound system and an array of parking cameras.

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Hydro-mechanical damping does a good job of making the C-HR ride a line between comfort and agility. In its Sport setting, the C-HR felt as eager as you would expect a 200PS hatchback to.

Sport’s influence on fuel economy seemed negligible, saw the drivetrain deploy more battery power and employed the engine more consistently, minimising the effect of its start-up.

The C-HR has real polish and turns heads like nothing else in its class, while proving frugal and feeling properly cutting-edge.

Toyota’s march away from a rather fusty phase goes on…

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