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Car Review

Toyota C-HR (2016-2023) review

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Published: 27 Jun 2022
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The now base-spec 1.8-litre petrol engine with accompanying electric motor only manages to develop 120bhp all-in, and with lithium-ion batteries on board it weighs over 1,400kg. So it’s little wonder it takes an entire 11 seconds to get from 0-62mph. And that’s assuming you’ll give it full throttle, which you won’t because - like most human beings - you’ll value having functioning ear drums.

Yep, unfortunately progress in the 1.8 is sluggish and that CVT gearbox has a tendency (nay, an addiction to) spiking the revs wildly when you give the accelerator pedal anything more than a gentle squeeze. A mid-life facelift didn’t bring any mechanical changes to that drivetrain either, so it’s a case of ‘as you were’ in this regard.

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What we did like before was the steering and suspension setup in the C-HR. Usually if it ain’t broke you don’t fix it, nevertheless Toyota logged it as an area for improvement and the result post-facelift is an enhanced power steering system. The sensation you get from the wheel is light but direct, so it won’t make you work hard around town but it’s not so breezy that it feels gutless when you pick up the pace.

Happy days. What’s the 2.0-litre like?

The new 2.0-litre hybrid produces 182bhp from its petrol and electric motors thanks to some clever combustion tech. It weighs slightly more than the 1.8 and is still front-wheel drive only, but the extra power is welcome given the C-HR’s game handling. Zero to 62mph takes 8.2 seconds, though we’re afraid the recurring presence of that CVT gearbox means the new unit sounds just as strained under acceleration and will pour cold water on any desire to attempt spirited driving.

That’s a pity. Which should I have?

That depends. Both engine options are economical: Toyota claims just under 53.3-57.7mpg and 110-120g/km for the 1.8-litre engine on the WLTP cycle, making it the more eco- and wallet-friendly of the two. In the real world we pushed the fuel economy up to almost 60mpg on a mix of roads without even trying. That’s seriously impressive, and few rivals in this segment get close to the C-HR for fuel economy.

Meanwhile the 2.0 offers 49.6-53.3mpg and 119-128g/km in its cheapest trim (both versions get a little worse for economy when you increase the wheel sizes, so watch out for that). There’s also a graphic front and centre that shows you what percentage of the time you’ve spent in EV mode: in town driving, Toyota reckons you’ll spend 80 per cent of the time running purely on recycled electricity. Not bad for a car that’s fuelled entirely by petrol.

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With that in mind, the 2.0 is the one to have. Real-world fuel economy won’t be much worse than in the 1.8, and with almost 50 per cent more power, it’s able to mask the shortcomings of its gearbox better. Likewise, overtakes on the motorway will be dispatched far more easily, too.

Noted. What’s the ride like? 

Comfortable, but not so soft that you wallow about all over the place. Bumps in the road never seem to shudder through the cabin as badly as in some other crossovers, even with the larger 18-inch wheels fitted. That said, while you’ll be perfectly comfy in the C-HR, the suspension is… busy. You’ll almost always be acutely aware of how the body of the car is shifting around in an attempt to smooth out our imperfect British roads. But that’s the price you pay for a car that’s unnecessarily tall.

Tell me more about the handling, you said it was good!

The handling is good. We’ve come to expect very little in this regard from the small SUV clan, but the way the C-HR corners more or less flat is pleasantly surprising. Head into a corner on a B-road with a bit of gusto and the car will hold the turn commendably while offering decent levels of grip. And you’d be tempted to drive quickly more often if it weren’t for the transmission.

Let’s not overegg it, by no stretch of the imagination is this a hot hatch post-growth spurt. But the concept of ‘fun’ will be less alien to you in this than in, say, a Peugeot 2008. And that’s to its credit.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport 5dr CVT
  • 0-628.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP184
  • MPG
  • Price£33,345

the cheapest

Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic Launch Edition 5dr CVT
  • 0-6211s
  • CO287.0g/km
  • BHP122
  • MPG72.4
  • Price£29,940

the greenest

Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid Dynamic Launch Edition 5dr CVT
  • 0-6211s
  • CO287.0g/km
  • BHP122
  • MPG72.4
  • Price£29,940

Variants We Have Tested

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