Toyota C-HR – Toyota’s brand new essence to the cross over segment

Before we start explaining what the name C-HR stands for, (that sounds like some extra lithium ion battery for a phone or something) let’s get down to some interesting facts and the story behind the development of this car. The C-HR started its development from 2012 and finally it was revealed to public in the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. It wasn’t until December 2016 that the full-fledged production of C-HR began. Toyota previously did not have any particular model that will sit right between its corolla hatch back known as the auris and the mid sized compact SUV RAV 4. The C-HR’s research and development wasn’t like any other mass produced model that Toyota introduces or facelifts commonly every 3-4 years. The C-HR is a completely new platform or chassis which isn’t shared with any other model of Toyota or lexus in the market. It’s common for car manufacturers to share the chassis throughout its car categories, for example the JDM premio shares the platform with the allion , the vitz shared with the JDM iSt (discontinued) and the auris with the prius and so on. Toyota focused on styling and performance  aspects for the C-HR. And they did their homework right and very seriously! It took them 4 years to bring out the model to the mass and there are solid reasons why. Mr Hiroyuki Koba, is the chief engineer who worked behind the construction of the C-HR and he is also a race car driver.

The main philosophy of a race car driver is to control the car in extreme conditions and use the full potential of the car. Mr Koba believes this philosophy can be adapted to the development of a car as well.  The first thing he wanted to make sure to the car he will develop will have the ultimate response.  The second thing is linearity that is smooth power delivery as much as the driver wants when he or she steps on the accelerator pedal and the brakes responding as you want it to be. The car has to deliver sharp cornering ability and make sure the driver can trust the car’s agility and moving dynamics. This attribute is the car’s consistency that makes it response same way to the steering input at both high and low speeds. Mr Koba combined his racing experience and blended them altogether to make the C-HR. Therefore his key three aspects that he considered in developing the C-HR was Linearity, Response and consistency.  Now let’s come down to the looks department from the technical attributes of the car.

The C-HR was developed by customers themselves. Well it may sound strange but Toyota actually did a market research on what type of styling a consumer prefers in a car and used those insights to shape out the C-HR’s styling. And we do believe that they are successful. The C-HR is unlike any other cross over in the market right now. It may be similar to the styling of the JUKE that was introduced 2010 but the C-HR’s curves and edges are very much functional more than it wants to appeal to any typical consumer. By functional we mean aerodynamic efficiency. The C-HR has a dynamic under body like that of an SUV, large wheels (18inch from factory), bulged masculine fenders, edgy, lifted and curved silhouette yet the body profile of a small coupe. The design philosophy was termed to that of a ‘sexy diamond’ that will hit people instantly and consider it as the new funky design and where Toyota is setting a completely new design standard of a compact cross over out of scratch! The 4 years of homework, research and development had made some achievements too!. Toyota introduced the C-HR to the 24 Hour Nurburgring race. The Gazoo racing team worked on the C-HR tuning. It was after 10 years that Toyota entered a 24 Hours race at the Nurburgring and that too with a car that they are developing for the mass market. The C-HR finished 84th out of 158 driven by Masahiko Kageyama, Kumi Sato, Tomoyuki Katayama and Herwig Daenens. It also finished third in the SP2T class.

Even more interesting fact is that the very engine that they used in the 24 hour C-HR race car, is being offered in the JDM market C-HRs and that means we would be getting reconditioned C-HRs with the very same engine. Although Gazoo racing team bored and tweaked the 1.2ltr water cooled turbo 8NRFTS to 1.4 but in a way it does prove how deserving and durable, toyota’s 1.2 ltr engine would be in the world. So those were some really interesting facts as to why this is the most anticipated car of 2017 and why the C-HR is so special. But the question might arise as to why did Toyota decide to make a ‘cross over’ or introduce the C-HR in the cross over platform in the first place?  Well according to research, the millennial are more interested to go for sub compact cars. More precisely, cross over styled Subcompact SUVs that will blend the feature of compact sedans and mid-size compact suvs. This blend will create a new segment of cars with a whole new design language.The research stated the fact that between 2012 and 2014 the sub compact car market grew by more than 40 percent. It is predicted that the total sales of such cars will be to around 7.4 million in the year 2022 from 3.2 in 2014 and it is most expected from the Asia pacific market which already showed an increase in sales of such cars between 2015 and 2017. Now lets narrow down on the C-HR again. From its sharp angular looks to its coupe like stance, the design really stands out. The most common design element that features the car to the name ‘Coupe High Rider” is the shape of the rear windows and the door. The car is exactly meant to be a coupe yet it’s a comfortable mid-sized four door family compact cross over.

We got a chance to check out the second Toyota C-HR on the roads of Dhaka city and thanks to Sal Sabeel cars for giving us this opportunity. This C-HR is a 2017 model and has a beautiful brown mica paint job. The most unique aspect of its interior is the full leather wrapped seats. There’s leather stitched on the upper side of the dash board, arm rests and door’s elbow pads as well. But let’s not get our expectations high on this just because it has a leather wrapped interior which is actually an optional package for the model.

The C-HR comes loaded with some interesting features that is very much new to a mass production model they are making. The C-HR has Blind spot monitoring system, parking sensors, lane change assist, and toyota’s safety ‘sense’ feature as standard. Now some of us may agree that these features might be standard on cars such as the land cruiser or lexus’s NX’s, rav-4s but keep in mind, that the C-HR is for a different market and priced differently. It is not a luxury sub compact suv neither it is a exhilarating performance oriented cross over. It is very much for the market that goes for a big sized hatch back yet want’s some features like that of an small suv. However as discussed earlier Toyota did set a new standard since they took the car’ handling, agility, performance, and durability to cater the mass market seriously.

The seats are very ergonomic and comfortable to be on. The visibility from the front driver’s seat and passenger seat is superb. It may seem like a small suv from the outside but view from the inside feels a lot like you would be in a hatchback of a coupe like sedan. Toyota stated that the interior design of the C-HR took much of its inspiration from the German car maker Audi. Toyota wanted to set a new interior design language here as well.The speedo meter display and the gear shifter is very much positioned perfectly and the flowing lines of the dash board is very well balanced aesthetically as well.

Since Toyota wanted to give it a looks of a coupe, meant that it had to make the rear windows smaller. We however felt that the rear windows blocks a lot of outside ambiance that you normally can experience in any other compact suv or sedan or even a hatchback. However you do get used to it after a while. Some might feel claustrophobic feeling the rear space is too tight. The C-HR has ample leg room in the back and what’s more surprising was the amount of head room it provided in both front and back. The car seemed to have a roof line that leaned down towards the back from the outside, but inside it felt very spacious. The rear window also seems smaller from the outside but it gives good visibility to both all passengers and drivers sitting inside the car. The door accents were plastic and were carved to the shape of hexagons, which we believe depicted the aesthetics of a diamond which we talked about earlier.

Toyota’s interior was known to have cheap plastic use of materials, the click, clank clunky sounds is because of the lack of sound insulation materials. There is no audible feel of solidness. The C-HR really surprised us since it totally changed our idea of how a typical Toyota might feel. Now once again are not comparing the flagship models like the crown or mark X, Prados but the C-HR, that falls in the non-car luxury segment. The weight of the doors is very well balanced and the roomy, spacious interior with very good sound deadening insulation materials made it a very funky and enjoyable place to be. We would have to rate the stereo system to be a ‘midrange’ or sort of something that you would get in a fully loaded corona premio. The trunk space was very accommodating and the rear sets can be folded down to give a flat platform for carrying more luggage or cargo as desired.

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The C-HR comes with 18inch factory wheels as standard. Now that’s awesome for car enthusiasts! Who doesn’t like to upgrade to bigger wheels when they go for a car? The C-HR 18inch wheels will be wrapped in 225 50 Bridgestone Potenza tires from factory.

As Toyota made a whole new platform with the introduction of the C-HR and much preference have been given to its handling, it should be said that the C-HR has a double wishbone/independent rear link suspension as stock. This platform is and will be same for all models both USDM and JDM. The reason why we are considering this upgrade is because, Toyota’s have given its double wishbone rear suspension to very few cars in the past, and mostly performance oriented models like the altezza or its compact sports cars or bigger SUVs, rwd cars. Wishbones are expensive to make and complicated geometry makes it uneconomical for mass production cars. And in the later years have only given the wishbone suspension to fewer cars that are say 1.8 or 2.0 different market variants (for example the JDM Auris 1.8, the USDM corolla iM hatchback has the rear wishbone yet the 1.5ltrs Auris in Japan don’t). So this is worth mentioning that this car with its completely new suspension will perform better in twisty roads, corners. We did experienced the ride quality of the C-HR in person and it felt really stable , comfortable, yet agile, with very less body roll compared to a typical suv or the most common premio allions of Toyota. The stiffness is just perfect as well with the 18inch wheels as stock. Check out the moose test below by km77 of the C-HR vs Nissan Juke. The results speaks for itself. Also another noteworthy observation was the function and use of Blind spot monitoring, lane assist and toyota’s safety sense in action. A lot of people argued or doubted that these technological additions to the C-HR would make it complicated for our Bangladeshi consumers where majority of the cars are driven by chauffeurs. When the first push start ignitions were becoming standard in toyota corona premio and allion, corolla axios 10 years back, some of us also doubted on its functionality whether such tech would be sustained in a country like Bangladesh where cars are driven by employed chauffeurs with minimum knowledge on cars. But today, the push button ignition, power windows, traction control,  smart start stop idle and even the function of a CVT transmission is is common in every car.  There fore  to be noted that these tech features like blind spot monitoring system, and lane assist and toyota safety sense, may seem advanced to our consumer at the moment but do keep in mind that toyota has made these features standard in a car they are mass producing for the world and these systems work automatically and there is no need specially learn to find out how these systems work.  After experiencing all these features in person we were really surprised how each feature actually worked precisely in our Bangladeshi roads. The lane change assist sensor is integrated in the side mirrors and it alarms with a beep when the car is about to shift a lane and the BSM system beeps if there’s a car behind the C-HR on the other lane in the blind spot. The C-HR has led headlamps as standard in projector lens. The toyota safety sense automatically brakes or slows down the car if it feels the car is about to hit an obstacle or another car in front. In our case the C-HR’s safety sense responded well when our driver slightly  steered close to a middle road divider in one of the hatirjheel junction. The C-HR also achieve full 5 star in Euro NCAP rating crash tests.

Lets talk about the engine. The engine is a 1.2ltr turbo producing 115bhp and 190Nm. That’s more than capable and good power to move about a 1460kg C-HR. This engine was first introduced in the Auris in 2015 and as we discussed earlier, Gazoo racing team used this same engine in the 24 Hour C-HR race car bored to 1.4 ltrs.

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The C-HR’s 8NRFTS felt silent, under hard acceleration and there was absolutely zero vibration or wind noises to be felt from the inside of the C-HR. It gave a very smooth linear power delivery and the CVT felt great as well. This is the second turbo engine Toyota introduced after the 2.0ltr turbo they fitted in the Lexus NX200t. The 1.2 ltr is very economical and the 114hp and 190Nm of torque is sufficiently responsive. To come to a conclusion about the C-HR we can narrow down on a few major things. First of all as we keep saying a whole new platform and a category meaning, the C-HR has really set off the future design hints of toyota’s next sub compact cars both technically and in the most functional manner. This platform may very well be shared or more cars may be introduced on this chassis. The brilliant and compact 1.2ltr turbo engine of the C-HR may very well replace the future 1.8 toyotas and 1.5 as well. Secondly the sub compact cross over culture will be very competitive in the coming years and all these years that went behind the development of C-HR does make it a worthy competitor to other Japanese manufacturers. In Bangladesh the car’s that would be competing with the C-HR in regard to the performance and functional value would be the Vezel, Nissan Juke, Mazda Cx5s. The Vezel and Juke both has a inferior suspension characteristics compared to the C-HR and the mazda CX5 is still a rare import. Toyota has built its customer satisfaction in Bangladesh as to be the most reliable, affordable, durable brand. Our average Bangladeshi consumer can’t differentiate an SUV to a cross over to a big sized hatchback. The common terms goes as to “jeep gari’,and the SUV’s mean Toyota Prado, Toyota Rush and Honda Vezel’s. So with the introduction of C-HR, the cross over market will be more familiar to our Bangladeshi consumers and the C-HR’s features will make an average consumer differentiate better between other alternatives. Your chance to own this funky- cool new 2017 model C-HR is waiting at Sal Sabeel Cars Gulshan 1 branch. You can also check out and contact Sal Sabeel Cars facebook

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Image source, Gazoo Racing CHR:  toyota blog UK Research Data: Frost & Sullivan 2015

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