By Mike Torpey on 2020-07-26 - 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 2.0
SMALL crossovers or compact SUVs are almost ten a penny these days - but if there's one contender that's bang on the cash it's the Toyota C-HR.
You can line up as many of these rivals as you like, but the smart money for the sharpest design will still be levelled toward the Toyota, it's a seriously slick-looking piece of kit.
Since its launch just over three years ago the C-HR has shifted more than 400,000 sales, which just goes to show how many people are driven more by styling than practicality.
That's not to say the C-HR lacks versatility though. In fact 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.
But there's another factor giving the Toyota an edge over the opposition, and it comes under the bonnet.
With the vast majority of pre-facelift models sold being hybrids, the Japanese manufacturer has now dropped the option of a turbocharged petrol engine.
And the existing 1.8-litre hybrid variant has been joined by 2.0-litre hybrid already successful in the brand's latest Corolla model.
Offering more punch than its stablemate - 50 per cent more power - while still returning enviable fuel economy, this 2.0-litre unit produces only slightly more CO2 than the smaller engine and definitely seems worth the Â£1,620 extra outlay.
In a 240-mile return journey pre-coronavirus, consisting of mainly motorway driving, we recorded an average 47.2 miles per gallon.
Given the frustrating nature of modern motorway driving, that was a pretty impressive return.
Not only did the C-HR prove both smooth, strong and well balanced to drive but the admiring looks came thick and fast too - in no small part due to the Scorched Orange paint job with its Black Bi-tone roof.
But then this is a stand-out vehicle anyway, that's been mildly updated rather than given a wholesale revamp - mainly benefiting from an improvement in the soft-touch plastics, a fresh bumper style, some different wheel designs and the welcome addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity.
Sharp creases and sci-fi angles give the C-HR - which stands for Coupe High Rider - a real edge over other crossovers, the coupe bit coming 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 a diamond-shaped design theme present in the door trim pattern, speaker grilles and instrument dial needles.
Rear visibility could be better and the rear accommodation can feel a bit gloomy on longer journeys but there's a definite feelgood factor to the C-HR and those conducting principally suburban driving can also achieve the majority of it driving in fully EV (electric) mode.
The C-HR also comes comprehensively kitted out with the likes of Smart Entry and push-button start, 18-inch matt black alloys, a JBL Premium audio system, front fog lamps, rain-sensing front wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid Orange Edition
Mechanical: 181bhp, 1,987cc 4cyl petrol hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 49.6
Insurance Group: 22
C02 emissions: 92g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
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