By Mike Torpey on 2017-02-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Toyota C-HR 1.2T
THEY are usually described as visions of the future - design studies that signal the direction a car company's upcoming models will follow.
In reality, while some elements of these concept cars find their way into manufacturers' products, the more avant-garde or futuristic bits seldom make the final cut.
You end up with something that may look sharper than its predecessor but still doesn't quite deliver the wow factor.
Then along comes a model like the new Toyota C-HR, and you take a step back in amazement.
This latest contender on the mid-size crossover scene is a real diamond geezer - and not just because of its dazzling looks.
It's actually down to the car's diamond-shaped design theme, defined by flared wheel arches at each corner and gemstone-like shapes adorning the bodywork.
There are sharp creases and sci-fi angles everywhere, giving the C-HR a dramatic appeal and making it stand out from the crowd. In the teeming crossover/SUV arena it is turning heads like no other model.
Of course the first concern of many prospective drivers will be whether the C-HR, which stands for Coupe High Rider, sacrifices practicality for styling.
That's definitely not the case because in addition to plenty of interior space for five - including in the centre rear seating position - there's also a decent size (377-litre) boot.
The coupe bit comes courtesy of the Toyota's sweeping roofline and disguised rear door handles, which are integrated into the pillars.
Moving inside, the cabin follows what the Japanese brand calls a ‘sensual tech' design with its protruding dash, tablet-style info touchscreen, piano black inserts and that diamond theme again - present in the door trim pattern, speaker grilles and instrument dial needles.
The tested model, in mid-range Excel trim, featured the same 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine used in the Toyota Auris model.
It's a livelier unit than its acceleration figure of 0-62 in 10.9 seconds would suggest, performs well both on urban roads and the motorway and in everyday conditions should be good for around 40 miles per gallon, though the official average return is 47.1mpg.
More attractive to many drivers, and particularly the fleets, will be the hybrid variant with its combination of 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric battery.
Hybrids cost from Â£23,595 in entry grade Icon trim, boast a Combined fuel figure of 74.3mpg plus tax-free tailpipe emissions of 86g/km as opposed to the test car's 136g/km.
That said, every C-HR comes well equipped with the likes of dual-zone auto air-con, 17-inch alloys, the Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen multimedia system, front fog lamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Excel puts the emphasis on sophistication and includes part-leather seats, heated front seats, keyless entry, parking sensors and Intelligent Park Assist.
Toyota C-HR 1.2T Excel
Mechanical: 114bhp, 1,197cc turbo petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 15
C02 emissions: 136g/km
Bik rating: 24%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
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