You may have read elsewhere that the C-HR is the first ‘normal’ car to be based on Toyota’s all-important new TNGA architecture.

That is to assume that the Prius isn’t a ‘normal’ car, with which we’d disagree: there has never been a more normal-feeling Prius than there is right now.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Grippy chassis and well-weighted steering make it easy to get the car around hairpins

It’s true, though, that the C-HR uses modular underpinnings that will benefit almost every new small Toyota for the next five years or more – and that they also promise great strides for the way those hatchbacks, saloons, crossovers and estates will ride, handle and steer.

The C-HR has close, progressive ride control, crisp handling responses, good lateral adhesion and well-balanced grip levels. It rides fluently and quietly, keeping constant close tabs on excessive vertical body movement. And it steers with a very sophisticated meeting of weight and directness that gives you an instinctive command over the car’s position on the road and its direction along it.

The relatively low centre of gravity and sophisticated rear suspension pay dynamic dividends here, because they allow the C-HR to come by its sense of handling response and precision easily – without needing to fall back on unyielding springing, oversized wheels, beefed-up anti-roll bars or extra-firm bushing.

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And so what’s pleasing about the way the car conducts itself around town, arcing around a motorway slip road and on a country lane is that it controls its mass very cleverly, stays balanced at all times and manages not to let any movement adversely affect the authority of its steered axle or the consistency of its grip level.

Can you enjoy driving the C-HR quickly? If you can overcome the discouraging need to squeeze every drop of available pace out of that hybrid powertrain, yes, absolutely.

The C-HR copes well when you fling it into a tight hairpin on a chilly winter morning. Slowing the car smoothly to the ideal entry speed and bleeding off the brakes as you turn in isn’t as easy as it should be, because the brake pedal is short on feel.

Even so, the car’s nose turns in keenly, its body settles quickly on its outside wheels and the chassis will even allow you to tighten your line mid-corner, such is its assured hold on the tarmac. Understeer is held off very well indeed.

On the exit of a corner, your line is often made untidy by the lack of progression to the accelerator pedal, which functions more like a switch than a pedal at times. Traction is generally strong, though, and the traction control system is dependable.

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