C-HR (Coupe High Rider) entered the market as Toyota’s first compact crossover in 2016. Three years later, the carmaker introduced a second, more powerful hybrid system to the powertrain range. Toyota’s European R&D division led the development of C-HR, a model created specifically for the European market. It is built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey.

At first glance, the C-HR’s exterior design retains the car’s coupe-like lines. Subtle changes were made to the front and rear to add simplicity and refinement, and the headlamp and rear light clusters were reconfigured with LED technology.

Inside story

Four C-HR trim levels are offered: Icon, Design, Excel and GR Sport. The latter was introduced earlier this year and replaces the Dynamic trim level. The entry-level Icon trim comes with a dual-zone automatic air-con, reversing camera, multimedia system and touchscreen. Move up to the Design level and you’ll get rear privacy glass, piano black console, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats with power lumbar adjustment, smart entry and heated, power-folding wing mirrors. Our Excel included a heated steering wheel, leather Seat upholstery, power driver’s seat adjustment and door mirror puddle lights.

All versions come with an updated multimedia system that allows for smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This also enables over-the-air map updates for the navigation system.

Given that C-HR customers appreciate the airy, expansive design of the cockpit, the carmaker has enhanced the visual and tactile quality of all the interior surfaces and switchgear.

Inlays have a refined finish and door panels are soft-touch in all contact areas. Reinforcing the link between interior and exterior design, many of the switches adopt a neat diamond shape, reflecting the diamond motif applied to the bodywork. The same diamond theme is evident in the door trim pattern, the headliner, the optional JBL speaker grilles and tweeter shape, and even the needles of the analogue instrument dials.

In the seating department, the front seats have a more strongly bolstered and supportive lower area. Functional differences have been emphasised through the use of different tones, textures and patterns in the upholstery.

The switchgear and central eight-inch touchscreen are angled slightly towards the driver. Because the touchscreen stands proud of the instrument panel rather than being enclosed by it, the upper dashboard is lower which helps forward visibility. The touchscreen is supplemented by a set of buttons and dials for functions such as volume control, making it easier to adjust while driving.

The headroom is a little pinched due to the sloping roofline. Further back, the boot space provides a capacity of 443 litres with the 60/40 rear seats in the upright position; 924 litres when folded flat. Continuing the space theme, storage is wide, deep and plentiful as expected for a family car.

JBL audio system

Audio-wise, certain versions of the C-HR can be equipped with a JBL Premium Sound System. The system comprises an eight-channel, 800W stereo amplifier and nine speakers. The speakers have been specifically tuned to the acoustics of the cabin. The system uses Clari-Fi technology, developed by Harman, which supplements real-time frequencies that are lost in compressed audio files, such as MP3 and streaming audio files. This restores the sound quality and stereo mix as closely as possible to the original recording.

Because the rigidity of the body structure surrounding each speaker – as well as various elements such as the windows and upholstery – can have an impact on sound quality, JBL and Toyota’s engineers collaborated from early in the C-HR’s design process. Customer analysis was taken into account when defining the orientation of the speakers and the use of horn tweeters precisely integrated into the front pillars – a signature JBL system feature – to deliver clear crisp sound.  In addition to the two 25mm horn tweeters, the system features two 80mm wide-dispersion units, two 17cm sub-woofers in the front, two 15cm full-range speakers in the rear, and a 19cm sub-woofer in a dedicated, 10-litre ported enclosure in the boot.

Advanced driver assistance system

All versions of C-HR are equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, a suite of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions. These include a pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane trace assist, automatic high beam and road sign assist. For 2021, the package was upgraded to add daytime cyclist detection to the PCS, plus Lane Trace Assist.  Excel and Dynamic models benefit from an Adaptive Front-light System, Intelligent Clearance Sonar (also standard on Design grade) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with auto-braking function. The two latter features are optionally available for the Icon grade.

On the road

Out and about this week, the C-HR is relatively quiet to drive. The carmaker has scrutinised every element in the vehicle capable of generating noise and vibration, leading to improvements in 11 different locations. Carefully placed seals, noise insulation and absorption pads further reduce the level of disturbing sounds entering the cabin.  The engine installation actively suppresses engine surging, while engine bay insulation contains other sounds. The same attention to detail has been applied to suppressing the rolling noise produced by the tyres.

On balance, this well-equipped model with some neat touches felt brisk, quiet and poised at every turn. The uncluttered cockpit with polished black panels and touches of metal edging makes it a pleasant place to spend time behind the wheel. The sat-nav and infotainment are easy to use without becoming too distracting. It is also economical. Officially, the 2.0-litre petrol hybrid will achieve 53 mpg. Our run-about achieved a perfectly agreeable 52 mpg with less than 1,000 miles on the clock.  Rival crossover models include the Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca.