What is it?
It’s the Toyota C-HR. And, well, far be it from me to get your pedantry radar pinging, but if you’re going to call a car a ‘coupé, high-rider’, then you might expect an element of accuracy within both of those statements. But, well, this is a post-fact world, or so The Guardian keeps reminding me, so let’s allow Toyota some poetic licence. The C-HR, effectively its new mainstream five-door hatchback, does have a swooping rear window and sits a hand width higher than its own Auris hatchback. But a Toyota GT86 SUV it ain’t.
You remember the Auris hatchback, right? Go on, you do. Replaced the Toyota Corolla? Competes against the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, that sort of thing? No? Well, anyway, you can still buy one, only not many people do, hence the requirement, I suppose, for something else. Something crossover-shaped, because if you want a new mainstream hatchback to sell in Europe, then these days you’ll need to make what we used to think was a niche one.
The C-HR is precisely one of those. Toyota expects to sell no fewer than 100,000 of them a year within Europe, which is the only market where Toyota initially thought it would sell the car, before other regions got a look at it and demanded it, too. So the C-HR will sell in Japan and other parts of Asia, and before long other regions as well. A crossover is, effectively, the new global family hatch.
In none of those markets, though, will the C-HR be offered with anything other than petrol or electric propulsion. Even in a Toyota, this is slightly surprising but probably shouldn’t be. Toyota long ago decided that a combination of petrol and electricity – then, further away, hydrogen and electricity – was its future, because it foresaw that although CO2 emissions were the factor that most affected new car legislation, that situation wouldn’t last forever. Air quality – particulates, nitrogen dioxide and so on – are about to replace CO2 as the bigger concern facing legislation makers, despite the non-end to global warming fears. City dwellers trump polar bears, in other words. I suppose they have better lawyers.
The C-HR, then, comes with either a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine (£20,995-£27,995), which can drive the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox or, when mated to a continually variable transmission (CVT), can propel either the front wheels or all four wheels (it’s a crossover, innit). Or it can be had in front-wheel drive with the 1.8-litre petrol-electric drivetrain (£23,595-£27,995) that you’ll find in the latest Toyota Prius, whose architecture the C-HR also shares.