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Toyota C-HR review – Outgoing personality

Millennials have been branded self-absorbed, self-important and even selfish but I’m not so sure it’s all their issue. In this heavily polluted ‘white noise’ digital world there is a battle to be heard and things like selfies and viral ‘home made/ self-exploitation videos are simply just another personality arm.  At their recent new car launch, Toyota made no attempt to hide the fact that the new C-HR is a bit of an attention grabber and I have to say, with its dramatic lines and bright coloured paint it’s pretty hard to miss.

Toyota call this exterior mix of sharp lines and smooth curves ‘diamond architecture’ but whatever you end up choosing to call it, unmissable will be in there somewhere. The C-HR’s Muscular flanks are made even moreso with deep sculpted body-lines that dip and grow with more acuteness than a roller-coaster, while things like integrated rear door handles and rear taillights become discussion points, rather than simply being intrinsic to gaining entry or illuminating the rear, they are now part of the cars features list.

The artistry continues on the inside too. Flowing lines and interwoven materials offer up tactility and eye pleasing aesthetics. Diamond shaped buttons are apparent from the steering wheel to the dashboard and even the roof has diamond shapes embossed into the lining (that also offer an easy way to drop down the sunvisor). Instrumentation is good but the infotainment system could be refreshed and although the seats are comfortable, I personally prefer a little more lumbar support.

It’s designed to stand out and it’s been created for an audience of extroverts but don’t think that it’s all mouth and no trousers. Under the Rav 4 familiar nose is a 1.2litre turbo-charged engine that delivers (wait for it) 185Nm/85kW that rivals far greater cc’d lumps. Having a smaller sized engine means that the efficiency is increased (reportedly 6.4-6.5L/100km), so it’s a win/win under the bonnet and at the pumps. The CVT autobox has 7 gears and 3 driving modes(Eco/Normal/Sport), although selecting the modes is not as obvious as it could be.

The C-HR comes in both FWD and AWD and although I enjoyed the security of knowing there was four wheel available when needed (until that point it remains in FWD), the reality is Front Wheel Drive will be more than enough for most driving needs. The C-HR has plenty of safety equipment packed in, from blind spot monitoring and brake hold to reversing camera and hill start assist, it has Toyota safety sense too. Pre-crash, Lane departure alert, Auto high beam and dynamic radar cruise control (adaptive).

The drive took us out from Auckland Airport to Manukau Heads lighthouse. It was a route that had a little bit of town and city tarmac but more of a lean towards the rural. The small SUV felt spritely and pretty agile. The TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) chassis keeps the weight low to the ground and the steering is exact, offering greater feedback at greater speed. Road noise through the 18” Alloys is very limited and the overall ride is confident even when being enthusiastic with the throttle.

Lunch was held at Te HiHi estate (I’m a regular there I’ll have you know), where we delved more into the SUV’s history and the audience Toyota expects it to attract (Hiro Koba was the Chief Engineer and Active and Stylish trendy folk) while we tucked in to rack of lamb and chicken.

Suitably fed and watered and feeling very knowledgeable about the C-HR’s place in the Toyota world, we headed off back to the Airport dealership. But not before doing a walk-around of a very accessorized version. Resplendent in white and lime greens, this even more eye catching model (I didn’t think it was possible) sported most of the 55 additions available off the shelf.

Over the course of the launch I drove the black and the bright ‘sun fusion’ yellow versions of the SUV and also leered over the electric teal. In my opinion, the C-HR is a car that really warrants the attention getting paintwork, dull or normal colours I’m afraid; don’t do it justice.

With C-HR having two meanings, Compact High Rider and Cross Hatch Runabout, compact SUV may not only appeal to the extroverts amongst us but also those with more than one personality. Either way, both me and I like it.

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