Olé! is the first comment that the reporter encounters with the Toyota C-HR comes to mind. This is certainly due to the Madrid venue - but also to the object that is supposed to prove its performance. Because the compact crossover, which the Japanese will offer from January 21 for at least 21.990 euros (1,2-liter turbo gasoline engine with 116 hp), it is a visual declaration of war.
But also an attack on all people who have so far designed vehicles for the Japanese and who follow the traditional Toyota philosophy: just don't be noticed, be good and solid. The C-HR breaks radically. You have to like the aggressive creases in the sheet - or not. Wischi-Waschi buyer does not want Toyota.
But first on the street. Since the arrow-like design can expect great things in the class of reasonable SUV drivers. With two engines, the C-HR is on: the 1,2-liter turbo gasoline engine and a 1,8-liter vacuum cleaner with electric motor support, as he already tinkers in the cute hybrid classic Prius. According to Toyota planning, 70 percent of 14.000 German C-HR buyers will access them in the coming year. The nominal smaller engine is still the clear recommendation.
The supercharged 116 PS are good for the C-HR: until Tempo 190 you get on with a pleasant six-speed manual switch. Of course, the small engine is not a sportsman in acceleration and at 185 Newtonmeter torque. With the usually two people plus light luggage on board, the driver will never feel underpowered. And with the optional variable four-wheel drive system, it is quite impressive, at least on the slippery meadow.
There are no four-wheel drive in the hybrid (from 27.390 euros) - and otherwise the performances look significantly different here. Okay, if an ascetic economy fanatic is all about fighting fuel consumption, the 1,8-liter four-cylinder without turbo can certainly tackle the four-liter consumption limit. But that's it with every attack. The hybrid with the infinitely variable automatic transmission buzzes somewhat inhibited - and may only be able to whine even with a gas surge, but at first not be forced to accelerate noticeably. Here the driver always feels somehow underpowered, except when gliding through the city. And the top speed of 170 km / h is not that easy to see on the highway.
This clearly shows what the C-HR is missing, at least in Central Europe and at least in frequent travelers: a crisp diesel, such as the Nissan Qashqai or Opel Mokka X works. But that will not happen at Toyota, although the crossover is invented for this continent, designed here and built in Turkey. Too bad especially for those who want to use the C-HR as the only car in the household for longer trips.
Because the crossover also cuts a good figure away from the city - especially for European demands. Thanks to its wider track than the Prius, the C-HR not only lies clean on the road when stationary. The balance between dynamics when cornering and a comfortable basic set-up was also successful. The smooth steering provides good contact with the ground, the brakes respond sensitively and powerfully.
The driver feels comfortable behind the wheel - especially in the better equipment options. The eight-inch multi-function screen appeals to them; Apple Carplay or Android Auto cannot be used yet. The touchscreen is slightly inclined towards the driver, which increases the accuracy of the fingers when driving. The seats are also comfortable for long journeys. If you spend more money on the finest of the four “Lounge” variants, for example, you can already jump over the 30.000-euro crossbar in the hybrid, but you can then look forward to foam-covered surfaces and fine leather even on some shelves. The second equipment variant “Flow” is very well equipped with many assistance systems, aluminum rims, automatic climate control, rain sensor or DAB + radio.
Speaking of shelves: There is one of the two weaknesses in the Interior offer: There is noticeably less storage space than in competing models, and the filing in the front center tunnel is difficult to see and so uneven that a cell phone can not be safely stored there. Second weakness: In the rear, although the good leg room and for the heads of medium-sized adults is still enough space. Because of the high door line and the wide-drawn C-pillar, however, the C-HR is a gloomy cave, especially in versions with darkened windows. Even in the Spanish sunshine it needs a lamp to read. And there is not much to experience from the outside world. If there are three adults in the back, it would be better if they did not suffer from claustrophobia. But that is not much different even among the competitors of this size.
In this class, the Toyota does not do much different from the inner values than its rivals - but it does offer a significantly different appearance, which is also inspired by the SUV from the sister brand Lexus. “First beautiful, then practical”, their European boss Alain Uyttenhoven has just issued as a battle cry - and that also applies to the C-HR - his “baby from my time as head of European product planning”.
Uyttenhoven even trusts the new Toyota to become a "style icon" that shapes the new face of the brand. Some colleagues on other continents probably think that too. Actually, he had planned the C-HR only as a model for Europe, so Uyttenhoven. But now also the Chinese and Americans want to have the crazy crossover. (Peter Weissenberg / SP-X)