Name games for

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR, front action 2
Toyota C-HR, side action
Toyota C-HR, rear action 2
Toyota C-HR, dashboard
Toyota C-HR, rear seats
Toyota C-HR, boot

HOW do car makers give a new model a proper name when most of them have hundreds of them secreted away being officially patented to them so rivals can't pinch them for own future year models?

The simple answer is don't give them one which is what Toyota has done with their first ever purpose built crossover by calling it the C-HR which spelt out a bit bizarrely means Coupe - High Rider.

Naturally when it arrives in showrooms here in January from Toyota's factory in Turkey most punters will simply refer to it as the CHR but either way the company won't mind because it at last gives them a first model to compete in what is really is the mid-sized Sports Utility Vehicle sector.

This is currently dominated by Nissan's UK-built Qashqai with Toyota's C-HR joining more recent arrivals like the Renault Kadjar and SEAT Ateca in what remains a fast growing sector of the market.

One big plus factor for Toyota, now renowned for their expert hybrid technology, is that this C-HR is powered by their newest hybrid power train, taken from the latest Prius, involves a 1.8-litre 97bhp petrol engine combined with an electric motor to give a maximum output of 120bhp/90kW.

This is all delivered through a CVT transmission (automatic) as used in other Toyota hybrid models and gives the C-HR a claimed top speed of 108mph, acceleration of 0 to 62mph in11 seconds on 17-inch sized wheels.

The result is that this newcomer can achieve an average of 74.3mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 86g/km and that's big news for company car drivers when it comes to paying less on their annual income tax bill.

Toyota also claim they have made great strides in making this hybrid lighter and more efficient than previous versions with a slightly better performance too thanks to a 40 per cent improvement thermal efficiency with the petrol engine plus a smaller sized and lighter battery that has a higher absorption capacity meaning it charges faster.

All this welcomed new technology apart and for those drivers who are more in favour of sticking with the internal combustion engine this five-door C-HR is also available here with a 1.2-litre 114bhp/85kW turbocharged petrol engine using a conventional six-speed manual gearbox, rather than a CVT.

Toyota in Britain reckons 75 per cent of C-HR sales annual sales of 16,000 in the first year will be hybrid versions with 9,000 going to private, retail buyers with an equal third split of the three trim levels on offer, starting with Icon, moving up to Excel and the range-topping Dynamics.

The reason why the C-HR, which Toyota claims has the strongest body shell in its sector, will be particularly popular with retail buyers is that the car offers some individuality in terms of styling and a bit different from the rest of the crossover pack.

From the outside it certainly looks smart - there's even a touch of the Range Rover Evoque looks at the rear - and although hardly in the convention designs of a coupe it's overall stylish and really attractive to the eye.

It's about the same size as the Qashqai but it's nicer looking in my view and it sits on the same platform as its sister model, the Prius, but with a higher driving and passenger position which again makes it stand out from the crowd.

Inside the C-HR lives up to expectations with good ergonomics, plenty of adjustments to the seats and steering wheel with the seats themselves offering good, all round lumbar support - only minor niggle here is that with the entry-level Icon there's no adjustable lumbar support which is a bit disappointing.

The dashboard layout is excellent - it's all there for the driver to see at a glance and so easy to use - and contains good infotainment with Toyota's Touch2 system with its 8" screen along with Bluetooth and digital radio.

Overall the interior furnishings and fittings are smart with a decent quality plastic finish and overall there's good head and leg room in the front, rear seats not quite as spacious and are ideal for kids than adults. The rear seats have a 60/40 split while boot space comes out at 370 litres, not the biggest in the class.

In terms of standard equipment this C-HR is up to scratch with the entry-level Icon having climate control, automatic lights and wipers plus cruise control and then moving up to the mid range Excel buyers gain sat nav, bigger 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and part leather finish. The range-topping Dynamic trim naturally has a few more whistles and bells on board as standard.

Prices are competitive too with the entry Icon powered by the 1.2-litre engine coming in at £20,995, the cheapest hybrid costs £23,595 with the most expensive being the Dynamic hybrid at £27,995.

All come with Toyota's five year/100,000 miles warranty and although this newcomer still awaits its Euro NCAP rating it has several positive in-built safety features, like a pre-collision system that automatically applies the brakes if it looks as if there's to run into the car in front - it even spots pedestrians too walking across in front.

Out on the road and both hybrid and 1.2-litre versions are impressive being agile yet stable, particularly when cornering at speed and rides well over bumpy surfaces, all helped by some precise steering feel too and both are extremely quiet once up at speed and out on the road.

Naturally the hybrid can drive off in electric mode but once the accelerator pedal is pushed down for a quicker pace the petrol engine comes into play and then push it even harder then it does become a bit noisy and whinny until up to a decent open road speed which is disappointing.

Which version to choose? Depends on the driver's everyday needs really but for anyone motoring in city centres, busy urban or doing long motorway runs at cruising speed then the hybrid is the answer and obviously much cheaper to run for company car drivers too.

Otherwise the 1.2-litre petrol is a little belter and far more fun to drive in many respects but sadly Toyota GB are not bringing in the 2.0-litre 142bhp petrol engine with CVT which some European markets are offering.

Toyota has stuck to its guns and carried on going down the hybrid route and clearly with this experience it's producing the best of that kind of power train currently available in the market place.

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