Toyota C-HR new car review

£31,300 - £43,540
6.8out of 10

10 Second Review

This second generation C-HR takes the successful formula established by its predecessor and improves it in most key areas. Which means this small coupe crossover is a little better to drive, slightly more practical and, arguably, smarter to look at too. There's even now 4WD and Plug-in Hybrid tech if you want it.

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Detailed ratings

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Toyota's been producing so-called 'European' cars for decades, but the C-HR, originally launched back in 2017, was the first one that really felt properly targeted at the preferences of our continent. This small coupe-crossover was built in Europe (just about - in Turkey), developed in its capital (Brussels) and sold like hot cakes, quickly becoming the brand's fourth best selling model, with 59% of customers poached from other manufacturers. So hopes were high for this, the second generation C-HR, introduced by Toyota in the Autumn of 2023.
Since the old car sold mainly on its appearance, this one's evolved styling needed to look sharp, keeping it at the fashionable end of the segment for small crossovers (a Volkswagen T-Roc or Taigo rival, rather than a T-Cross competitor, if that helps to pigeonhole it for you). Yet this time round, the designers have tried to balance those looks with more practical rear seat and boot space. Plus the Hybrid engine range has been broadened with the addition of a PHEV variant to give this model line longevity in markets about to make the switch to full EVs. And the front-of-cabin experience is now better connected and more premium. Sounds promising. Let's take a closer look.
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Range data

CO2 (g/km)105120
Max Speed (mph)106112
0-62 mph (s)10.27.3
Combined Mpg60.1353.1
Length (mm)43624362
Width (mm)18321832
Height (mm)15641564
Boot Capacity (l)364388
Power (ps)138220


Driving experience

The C-HR has always set its stall out to be 'sporty' and this second generation version is no different. This time round, the car needs less mental adjustment if you're coming to it from a model without a fully-electrified powertrain. Though you might not expect that because at first glance, the core engines on offer here - 1.8 and 2.0-litre full-Hybrids - seem much the same as they were in later versions of the previous version. Actually though, much is different. As before, you're never quite certain where the source of motion power is coming from - generator, battery or engine. And, also as before, heavy throttle applications see the left hand power meter dial reading lurching violently back and forth like a windmill. But this time round, a better optimised level of throttle calibration means that there's far less lag between requesting extra acceleration and it being actually delivered. Nor is the 'elastic band' 'moo-ing' of the e-CVT auto gearbox quite as prominent. On undulating roads, new Adaptive Hill Control Logic modifies acceleration according to the incline. And for quieter running, engine speeds during highway driving have been reduced by up to 500rpm, improving refinement.
The Hybrid engines have more power too - with the 1.8-litre VVT-i unit almost everyone will still choose up from 122 to 138bhp, taking nearly a second off the 0-62mph sprint time (now 10.2s) and, more importantly, boosting mid-range pulling power by a significant 43Nm (now 185Nm), enough to make overtaking that swaying artic in front slightly less of a white-knuckle affair than it was before. As with the old car, there's also a larger-capacity 2.0-litre version of this Hybrid powertrain available - which also gets more power, up from 182 to 195bhp. We tried that and it propels this Toyota along with more of the kind of urgency its rakish looks suggest it ought to have, with 206Nm of torque and 62mph dispatched in a far more satisfying 8.1s. That larger engine also provides the basis for a newly-introduced PHEV twin-motor drivetrain with a useful 223bhp total output, which dispatches the 62mph sprint in 7.3s. That's despite the extra weight of a 13.8kWh battery that when fully-charged is supposed to be able to take you up to 41 miles between spells of replenishment. But that's a weightier model that won't have the appealing agility of the more ordinary conventional Hybrid variants, which benefit from the installation of the brand's stiff new TNGA-C chassis. Ride quality's on the firm side, but in compensation, the car feels well planted through the turns.
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Design and build

If you liked the edgily-styled original version of this model, it's likely that you'll also appreciate the visual efforts Toyota's made with its replacement. As before, dramatic lines, sharp bodywork creases and sculpted headlights catch the eye. Plus the nose gets Toyota's latest 'hammerhead face', there are flush-fitting pop-out door handles and pricier trim levels get two-tone paintwork. A new pre-coloured resin finish for the bumpers also gives a two-tone vibe. Contrary to expectations, this MK2 model is a little smaller than its predecessor, a little shorter and sitting 15mm lower. It's 35mm wider though and has bigger wheels - up to 20-inches in size.
The cabin needed an uplift in quality - and it's been given it, courtesy of various recycled plastic fabrics, contrasting soft-touch surfaces and a pair of so-called 'sail panels' that stretch from the fascia top into the doors. Avoid base trim and you get twin 12.3-inch screens for instruments and infotainment. You sit quite high, but it's not enough to alleviate the rather compromised rearward visibility, though this is a little better than it was previously.
You access the rear through conventionally-sited door handles (previously, they were embedded into the C-pillar). And once inside, it's still tight because the 2,640mm wheelbase length isn't any different from before. Legroom is fractionally better though and extra space for heads has been freed up by the fact that the optional panoramic glass roof no longer needs a shade. But rear seat visibility is still limited and the sloping roof line restricts ceiling space. The boot's still restricted too, though at least it's not noticeably smaller than before: it's rated at either 388 or 364-litres, depending on your choice between 1.8 or 2.0-litre Hybrid drivetrains. Either way, the rear seat back still splits 60:40.
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Market and model

Prices for this second generation model start from just over £31,000, which gets you the 1.8-litre Hybrid engine with base 'Icon' trim; the same package also comes with mid-range 'Design' spec or top 'Excel' trim. The 2.0-litre Hybrid is priced from just over £40,000 and comes in 'GR Sport' or 'Premier Edition' guises. Expect to pay in the £39,000-£44,000 bracket for the PHEV version.
All variants are pretty well equipped. Even base 'Icon' trim gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, cloud-based navigation, a wireless smartphone charging mat and 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. Plus there's a very complete 'Toyota Safety Sense' camera safety package. Mid-range 'Design' trim builds on this with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and a parking sensor system with automatic brake function. There are heated seats and you get a 12.3-inch instrument display, along with a 12.3-inch 'Toyota Smart Connect+' central infotainment screen.
The top 'Excel' model has 19-inch alloys, bi-tone exterior paintwork, front sports seats with suede-effect upholstery, ambient interior lighting, a panoramic roof and a 360-degree panoramic view monitor. On the 2.0-litre model, the 'GR Sport' grade has 20-inch machined alloy wheels, a head-up display and a JBL premium audio system.
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Cost of ownership

Self-charging full-Hybrid engines are still quite rare in the segment for small crossovers: only Nissan's Juke, Renault's Captur, Kia's Niro and Hyundai's Kona can offer petrol/electric technology of that sort in this class and those models look pretty frumpy in comparison to this one. As for efficiency, well a 1.8-litre Hybrid-powered C-HR can return up to 60.1mpg on the combined cycle and 105g/km of CO2. For the 2.0-litre Hybrid, think 57.6mpg and 110g/km of CO2.
For the PHEV variant, you're looking at up to 294mpg on the combined cycle and up to 19g/km, with an EV range of up to 41 miles; in the real world, it'd be more like 35 miles. You can select an EV mode or use a Hybrid setting that will work with the sat nav and uses Geofencing technology that will prioritise electric power in low-emission zones. The navigation system can also suggest a route that will take into account your state of charge and identify possible charging spots. In a C-HR PHEV, you can also adjust the strength of the regenerative braking. The 13.8kWh battery can use a 7kW charger for a home top-up that will take two and a half hours. Whatever C-HR you decide upon, as usual with Toyotas these days, if you keep the car serviced at a franchised dealer, the warranty can be extended up to a maximum of 10 years.
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As before, almost everyone who chooses a C-HR will do so on the basis of the way it looks. But second time round, this car's appeal is more than skin deep. Toyota still thinks its target market is 30-something fashionistas, but the old car demonstrated a much broader customer base than that amongst more regular folk who will no longer have to make quite so many of the practical compromises demanded by the original model.
We can't imagine that too many of these people will want the cost (and extra weight) of the added PHEV flagship model; as it always did, the C-HR makes most sense in a nice level of spec fitted with the base 1.8-litre self-charging Hybrid engine and sold with a sensible price tag. In that form, we can see why you might want one. And if you do, you might be agreeably impressed by the cabin improvements Toyota has made here. If cars were bought on purely rational grounds, you still wouldn't choose one of these, but thankfully, they're not. The C-HR celebrates that. Which is exactly why it's been so successful and will continue to be.
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