THE man selling tickets to the stately home tour was obviously a keen driver, and this was his first face to face with the new Toyota in his grassy car park.
Hard to miss this one, actually, with enough curves and stylish slashes on the bodywork to render it visible from space. Truly a Toyota with attitude.
It might be based on the current Toyota Prius underneath but you'd never guess the family connection, until you dig deeper into what makes the cars go.
In most cases the new C-HR shares its 1.8 litre engine and electric motor with the piously frugal Prius, helping it save company car users a useful wedge thanks to a beneficial tax rating, all down to miserly official fuel consumption and modest-to-a-fault tailpipe emissions.
And this was what the ticket-at-the-gate chap thought he was looking at, except that he wasn't. No, the object in his sights was a C-HR powered solely by a smaller (1.2 litre) petrol engine, using a turbo to boost output but without the Prius-derived battery helper.
The result is a much rarer car that saves more than £2,600 over the price of the hybrid version but will cost a company car user rather more in tax. In precise figures, a 40 per cent taxpayer will be hit for £1,736 a year with the hybrid and a decidedly less welcoming £2,583 for the smaller engined non-hybrid tested here.
If you pay tax at the 20 per cent rate those figures drop to £868 and £1,291 but you get the point; the hybrid will save company car drivers enough over three years for a decent family holiday.
Private buyers need a different perspective, starting with the already mentioned saving of £2,620. A glance at the official fuel economy of both versions then muddies the waters with the hybrid looking by far the more economical to run, showing nearly 69mpg average against the apparently much thirstier 47mpg of the 1.2 petrol model.
Except that driving the hybrid on its press launch in Spain the car showed 46mpg in real world driving and the 1.2 litre followed not that far behind with 40mpg.
One more statistic (and then we'll stop, honest); over 600 miles of mixed UK roads the 1.2 purely petrol C-HR showed 45mpg on its trip computer. So it is a pretty economical machine itself.
It also felt lighter on its feet, more responsive and without the potential drone from the hybrid's transmission, relying instead on a pleasantly positive manual gearchange and making spirited progress despite its lack of engine capacity.
The C-HR is absolutely on trend in today's car world, meaning it's a crossover, gently mixing 4x4 looks and built a bit higher than a hatch and infused with a bit of machismo. The handles for the rear doors are hidden up near the roofline, lending a coupe-lite look.
Inside, there's a modestly upmarket feel about the place and a dashboard dominated by a slash of blue painted plastic that looks as though its lit by the residue of a nuclear power plant. You'll either love it, or you won't.