Toyota discovers its mojo with chic C-HR

It is not often that a compact car creates such a splash on the new car market. But take one look at the Toyota C-HR , in the flesh or in pictures, and its plain to see why. We head to Sandton City to see if the Turkish-built C-HR has the personality to match those striking looks.

Exterior Styling

Let’s start with the obvious; It’s bold for Toyota. Colours, turbo engine, style. Chasing a younger buyer in a segment that’s growing rapidly. That’s two bullseyes.  Cutting-edge but manages to compliment, and not detract, from the rest of the Toyota line up. It also doesn’t hurt that it looks like a concept car straight off the Geneva show room floor. Toyota describes the look as “Distinctive Diamond” and the theme follows throughout.  The car is polarising, but whether you like it or not, you have to agree: it’s cool. The new Toyota C-HR is aimed at millennials who are image-conscious, and considering the initial response, Toyota could have a winner on their hands.

All models come with 17-inch alloys, and although 18’s would have done a better job of filling those giant arches, one has to bear in mind that the higher aspect ratio tyre means C-HR is more city-friendly. Exterior dimensions are in line with the burgeoning compact SUV segment and cars like Nissan’s aging Juke and Mazda’s CX3 are directly in C-HR sights when it comes to size and pricing.

With just 150 units expected to be sold in SA initially due to high worldwide production demands, I think those looks will stay fresh for quite some time.


The ‘Diamond’ theme continues inside, from the speedo needle, which thins out at the tip, to the roof and door lines, all elegantly diamond-themed. The interior is refreshingly minimalistic, in a time when other manufacturers are rushing to add more, Toyota has chosen to take away unnecessary knobs and buttons and make the dash and interior smoother to the touch as well as the eyes. C-HR Plus models come with multifunction display, ergonomically placed atop the dash. It’s an easy place to get acquainted to and within minutes I felt comfortable and ready to take on the highway route to our lunch destination.

Engine and gearbox

Toyota C-HR is available in 85kW 1.2 Turbo with the choice of manual 6-speed or CVT gearbox. The manufacturer’s fuel consumption figures are 6.3l/100 for the manual and 6.4l/100 for the CVT. The 6-speed manual comes with an “auto-blip” function Toyota calls iMT, which incidentally also prevents stalling. Great news for new drivers.

Previous CVT iterations were flawed and one got the sense that the clutch was always slipping. This does again rear its ugly head when the gearbox is allowed to shift itself at higher RPMs while one’s foot is pinned to the ground, but when driving swiftly using + or – on the gear stick is recommended. For town driving and highway cruising, auto mode is creamy smooth and gear changes slick, as the car seamlessly changes belts. Finally CVT is worth at least a test drive.

The manual gearbox will suit those first or second time buyers who are using the Toyota C-HR as a trendy warm-up to an inevitable performance upgrade down the line, but for everyone else, the CVT is just perfect.

Combining adequate dynamics and genuine head turning looks, C-HR is the must-have accessory this season.

  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T 6MT         –  R 318 500
  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T 6MT Plus – R 345 000
  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T CVT Plus  – R 356 000


 All Toyota C-HR models come standard with a comprehensive 5 year/90 000 km service plan, with service intervals set at 15 000 km. A 3 year/100 000 km warranty is provided.

New Models

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