TOYOTA'S funky C-HR compact crossover model has just been given the GR treatment and for anyone wondering what that means, it's the Gazoo Racing DNA to sharpen up all the driving responses.
The five-door C-HR (that's short for Coupe High-Rider) first went on sale in 2016 and sold120,000 units in Europe. Today, almost half a million motorists in Europe can be found behind the wheel of a C-HR and the UK sales have topped the 70,000-mark.
Until recently, customers could choose from trim levels called Icon, Design and Excel. But now there is the edgier GR Sport model joining the mix, costing £35,460.
And it's quite the looker too withnew Deep Amethyst paintwork and a bi-tone black roof giving it a powerful road presence. There are two-tone performance 19-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, rear sequential indicators and LED reflector headlights, along with black-coloured finishing to the Toyota badge, headlights, grille and bumper.
The C-HR GR is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 182bhp and 190Nm of torque. And that translates into interesting reading when it comes to performance with a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.2 seconds and top speed of 112mph.
The car has a low centre of gravity making it engaging to drive with swift acceleration through the e-CVT transmission. It's nice and lively around town, cruises effortlessly on motorways at 70mph and is grounded on twisting country lanes. Extra strong winds did cause a little buffeting, but that was on a fairly high bridge in particularly poor driving conditions.
Toyota has cleverly made the hybrid electric system smaller and lighter than previously seen to offer a more energised performance. It all works seamlessly in the background and the C-HR GR is certainly more engaging to drive with nicely weighted steering and drive modes called EV, Hybrid and Power to alter the handling.
Special mention to the new suspension set-up that helps deliver an improved ride quality across uneven road surfaces. And the springs on the GR Sport are stiffened (10 per cent front and 15 per cent rear) for sportier handling.
There is plenty of tech to explore in the bright, modern and feature-rich cabin, includingan eight-inch HD touchscreen, heated seats, a premium sound system, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, intelligent park assist and an on-board voice assistant.
It has a high-end feel with lots of diamond shapes on the air vents, switches, speaker grille, door panels, roof headlining and even the needles of the instrument dials. And the blackAlcantara leather sports seats, gear lever and perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel all feature red contrast stitching to give the car the sporty look it deserves.
A powered driver's seat means its quick and easy to get a comfy position and all readouts, controls and dials are simple to operate on the fly. Back seat passengers have ample leg room if the front seats are not pushed too far back and the boot is practically-sized with a 377-litre capacity up to the tonneau cover. This limit increases to 1,164 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere, there is a glovebox, a central cubby, two front cup holders - one with an adjustable height facility, seat back pockets, door bins and extra cup holders in the rear doors.
When it comes to running costs, the C-HR GR can deliver a combined 49.6-54.3mpg under WLTP testing with carbon emissions from 120g/km.