TOYOTA: First-Drive - The updated 2020 Toyota C-HR Review20 November 2019
The Toyota C-HR is now three years old and yet it still looks like the production-ready concept car that surprised everyone with its chiselled, Lexus-like body work and slinky interior at its first reveal in Geneva back in 2016.
In Europe and the UK, it has proved a phenomenal sales success for Toyota, racking up sales of over 400,000 units since its introduction into the lucrative coupe-crossover market. Little wonder then, that as part of its mid-life update, Toyota hasn’t rocked the styling boat too much.
Exterior Styling updates
For the exterior the changes are very subtle but powerful, with Toyota using customer feedback and its own go to “mid-life” refresh check list.
The creases and sharp lines of the outgoing model have been softened somewhat and the overall effect looks a lot less busy, appearing smarter and more appealing, while retaining the majority of its original wackiness that surprised back in 2016.
Looking sportier than before, there are repositioned fog lamps, new standard-fit LED light clusters (with the rear actively scrolling), along with a larger grille/bumper, which now has a painted bottom lip that makes it look a little lower to the ground, and the rear LED lights are connected by a smart gloss black spoiler.
The special Orange Edition shown in the pictures is fitted with the new 2.0-litre Hybrid powertrain and just 500 examples are bound for the UK market.
higher quality material for the dash top and door plastics. Toyota have used greys and blacks to keep a sophisticated look and feel to the dashboard, whilst introducing different textures and surfaces throughout the sweeping lines of the cabin.
The use of plastics over other materials means it does not feel as plush inside as the Peugeot 3008. The rear seats have a surprising amount of space, but due to the sloping roof line and window design, it can feel a tad claustrophobic.
Up front it’s all quite nice and cosy for a sizeable crossover.
The most welcome change is the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These allow you to operate your favourite smartphone apps, including music playback, navigation and handsfree phone calls, through the car’s touchscreen.
Boot space with all seats in place is 377 litres and, with row two flattened, a useful 1,160 litres becomes available.
Trim grades and equipment
There are four regular trim grades available on the 2020 C-HR: Icon, Design Excel and Dynamic, plus the top-spec Orange Edition.
All 2020 C-HRs are particularly well equipped, with climate and adaptive cruise control, automatic windscreen wipers, reversing camera, wi-fi connectivity, DAB radio and LED headlights. There’s an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and Toyota’s excellent Touch 2 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen.
Step up from Icon to Design trim for navigation and keyless go, 18-inch wheels (17-inch on the Icon), park assist, front and rear parking sensors and voice recognition.
The Excel adds rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitor with lane change assist, heated black leather seats and steering wheel, LED adaptive headlights with sequential indicators and LED taillights.
The Dynamic brings a two-tone roof/body combination, while the top-spec Orange Edition features 18-inch matt black alloys, a black bi-tone roof with a unique orange body colour, as well as a JBL Premium audio system with nine speakers.
Depending on trim level, the dashboard contains contrasting inserts – in grey on Icon, silver with Excel or a classy blue on Dynamic models.
Engines and Drivetrains
Since the C-HR first arrived back in 2016, we’ve had the modestly powered 114hp 1.2-litre turbocharged engine in the line-up, along with the 120hp 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain paired with a CVT ‘gearbox’.
Toyota UK has removed the 1.2T engine from the C-HR line up, whilst keeping the 1.8 litre hybrid, the powertrain has also been slightly refreshed with an upgrade to a lithium-ion high-voltage battery, that’s also seen a capacity increase too.
To reinforce Toyota UK’s commitment to hybrid power is the introduction to the refreshed C-HR of a completely new 2.0-litre ‘Dynamic Force’ hybrid unit offering a world’s first 41 per cent thermal efficiency and a compression ratio of 14.0:1, which is firmly in diesel territory. It is the fourth-generation hybrid powertrain from Toyota, Japan.
It combines a petrol engine and electric motor to produce 184hp yet is more efficient than and dynamically superior to the 1.8-litre system. Although power is greater by a whopping 50 per cent, fuel consumption is only 10 per cent higher. CO2 emissions are unrivalled in its segment, starting from 118g/km and combined cycle fuel economy is a claimed 53.3mpg.
Transmissions for both 1.8 and 2.0 hybrids are via a CVT.
Ride and Handling
Built on Toyota’s GA-C platform (along with the Prius, Corolla and Lexus UX), the updated C-HR has received upgrades to its body shell to increase rigidity, along with comprehensive NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) reduction measures for a quieter, more comfortable in-cabin experience.
The only engine available to test drive at its media launch event in Portugal last week was the new 2.0-litre hybrid unit, fitted to the top-spec ‘Orange Edition’ cars. The extra power of the 2.0-litre unit now makes full use of the car’s excellent chassis.
The underpinnings on the 2020 C-HR, sees the suspension reworked and tweaked to improve ride and handling and to improve driver feel and steering feedback there’s a modifier electronic power steering assemble. These small technical enhancements do much to improve the car’s driver-centric dynamics.
Overall refinement is also noticeably improved and – like the new Corolla range – is very impressive. The combination of hybrid engine and CVT transmission is one of the best yet in terms of noise and responsiveness – this from someone who has always disliked CVT transmissions.
Unlike many CVTs before it, the new transmission isn’t coarse, nor is it audibly intrusive, only noticeable if you actually stomp on the accelerator. Most drivers won’t, of course and this version builds speed with pleasing pace that doesn’t leave you hanging or frequently checking your watch.
Compared to the outgoing C-HR models, the new 2.0-litre power plant is a most welcome addition.
The 2020 C-HR features all the standard safety kit Toyota can muster – which is a lot. As standard it includes the company’s own ‘Safety Sense’ suite, which brings together adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking along with pedestrian detection. Lane-departure warning, auto-dipping headlights and road-sign recognition are also featured.
The C-HR scored a reassuring five out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing, back in March 2017. Seven airbags are provided, and stability control is included on all models. The Excel and Dynamic models can also be optionally specified with rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring to further enhance safety.
With the refreshed 2020 C-HR still looking as good as the day it was revealed 4 years ago, it’ll be a strong car leasing alternative in the growing crossover segment, especially with the addition of smartphone infotainment connectivity and the highly efficient 2.0-litre hybrid, which drives well and cheap to run. Where its level of practically brings its down slightly, the quality and design elements of the cabin massively outweigh the negatives.