The apparent determination of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to take the shackles off the designers for the C-HR is to be applauded.

The visual drudgery of the Auris and others must have left a mark upon most buyers’ perception of the Toyota brand and an attempt to create a standout example of crossover style is welcome.

Our test car caused admirers to stop us and demand to know what it was. And which was the last Toyota to do that?

Whether or not the stylists have succeeded in their aim is open to interpretation, but there’s no question that the Coupé High-Rider represents a proper swing for the fences.

The indulgence of the coupé part of the equation – that swooping roofline and rear three-quarter – is enough to ensure that the model gives up some practicality to a raft of crossover-shaped opposition, a fact that Toyota acknowledges with the assertion that it is targeting a customer chiefly driven by “emotional considerations” with this car.

But are we to expect this mash-up of a crossover to be as exciting to drive as it is to look at? It isn’t clear.

The C-HR’s powertrain – a familiar tie-up of 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and electric motor assistance – is the very latest iteration of the Toyota hybrid, meaning that it is lighter, sharper, more powerful (at 121bhp) and more efficient than before, with a CO2 output as low as 86g/km.

But the hybrid’s familiar calling cards are smoothness and economy, rather than the mid-range punchiness that is so often the hallmark of the diesel-powered compact crossover.

The 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo four-pot alternative to the hybrid option promises little excitement, either, although at least that engine comes with the option of an adaptive all-wheel drive system capable of shuffling 50 percent of available torque rearward via an electromagnetic coupling.

The C-HR shares the GA-C variant of Toyota’s new TNGA modular architecture with the Prius, along with its front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbone suspension, although it gets a slightly shorter wheelbase and wider tracks. Toyota also says the underpinnings enable the car to have a lower centre of gravity than any direct rival.


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