What is it?
The Toyota C-HR is part coupé, part hatchback and part crossover. It’s a fusion of conventional vehicle bodystyles that indicates most tellingly of all just how many crossover hatchbacks have been launched into what we refer to so often as ‘the Qashqai class’ in the past couple of years. You now have to design one as wacky-looking as this just to get people’s attention.
The C-HR, or ‘coupé high-rider’, has just arrived in UK showrooms, and it plainly aims for a fairly design-savvy crowd. By the standards of the cars it's up against – the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca and Kia Niro – it compromises a little bit of cabin and boot space for the freedom to accommodate that swooping roofline, sloping rear end and those deeply sculpted body surfaces.
If you don’t like the way the C-HR looks, and the idea of a marginally less practical crossover hatchback seems entirely pointless to you – because isn’t that just a normal hatchback, after all? – I guess you know you’re not in Toyota’s target market. The company’s own definition of a C-HR buyer is “a young customer driven by emotional considerations, as well as by style and quality, who wants their car to serve as an extension of their personality”.
So there you are. Those fiddly rear door handles, mounted so highly as to be almost out of reach to anyone small enough to be comfortable in the back seats, are emotional. They’d have that kind of effect on me, I fear. But otherwise, putting all cynicism to one side, the C-HR’s is a design that certainly has its moments and wins plenty of admiring glances on the street.
Toyota offers the car with a choice of 120bhp 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid and 113bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engines, with either six-speed manual or continuously variable transmissions and with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Given that it’ll account for seven out of 10 UK sales, it was the hybrid we turned to for our first UK test.