Toyota breaks new ground with hybrid compact SUV

Auto & Audio April 10, 2018 21:53

By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Sunday Nation

3,868 Viewed

Though this c-HR won’t get you far on battery alone, it looks good, handles well and demonstrates an attempt to be attractive

Toyota is hoping to successfully break into the compact SUV market in Thailand with the awesome-looking C-HR crossover.

The C-HR made its debut at the Motor Expo last year and attracted over 3,000 interested customers. This is a major model from Toyota, with total sales hitting over 280,000 units in 51 countries in 2017, while also being one of the top five best-selling vehicles in Europe last year.

The C-HR is based on Toyota’s new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) that gives it a totally new character when compared to older generations.

The C-HR is priced from Bt979,000 for the entry-level 1.8-litre model, to Bt1.159 million for the HV Hi flagship hybrid model featured this week.

In terms of design, the C-HR really stands out with its futuristic exterior styling that evokes concept vehicles seen at motor shows. The interior design is equally stylish, but the quality of the materials and the final touches aren’t best-in-class, trailing behind rivals such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.

Meanwhile, the C-HR features Toyota’s 4th-gen hybrid system that is smaller but still capable of storing more electricity with better heat dispersion, durability and fuel economy.

A 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle engine rated at 98hp is mated to a 72-hp electric motor to deliver a combined 122 horsepower.

Toyota claims that fuel economy has been improved dramatically with the new system, at 24.4km/litre average. The nickel metal hydride battery pack (rather than the more expensive lithium-ion battery used by other hybrid manufacturers) is stored under the rear-seat cushion to give more luggage space. Unfortunately the C-HR isn’t available with a plugin version (as yet) and, although there’s an EV button, you’re not going to get very far on pure electric power alone. The 10 kilometres offered would be good enough for “we’re out of bread” trips.

There have been many media test drive events for the C-HR since its official launch in Thailand, but mine was held in Chiang Mai just last week. Chiang Mai is a great place to drive and experience the major improvements that come with the TNGA platform. The low centre of gravity, high body rigidity and precise steering, along with no-nonsense body control, provides C-HR drivers with a pretty high level of driving enjoyment when travelling the winding mountain roads heading up to Chiang Mai’s Samoeng district.

Those driving the C-HR for the first time will be impressed with the new handling character offered by the TNGA platform. The ride feels much more solid that previous Toyota models, and the beefy steering adds to the fun. The front strut and rear double wishbone suspension (the latter not common for a Toyota) provides good road-holding, with 215/60 tyres offering good cornering grip as well.

The hybrid powertrain with e-CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) provides quick response and reasonably good acceleration – 0-100kph takes roughly 11 seconds and the top speed is about 170kph.


Good features

There’s an EV button right below the gearshift lever – when engaged it offers up to 10 kilometres of pure electric drive. Once the battery runs out, the E85-compatible engine automatically restarts and continues to propel the C-HR.

The C-HR also comes with a good array of features. For safety, there’s a full TSS (Toyota Safety System) package consisting of a pre-collision system that warns the driver of a possible collision, dynamic radar cruise control that maintains the correct distance between you and the vehicle in front, and lane departure alert with a slight steering assist that warns rather than startles you.

Another highlight in the C-HR is Toyota T-Connect Telematics that connects to smartphones and even the Apple watch, in addition to offering travel information, navigation system, 24-hour operator emergency service, vehicle locator (in case of theft), and wifi hotspot. The C-HR gets full LED adaptive headlamps, sequential LED turning lights, LED welcome lamps at the sideview mirrors, smart entry, auto brake hold function, dual-zone climate control, split-foldable rear seat backrest (luggage area is not one of its strengths) and powered windows with anti-pinch function on all four doors (all auto for both up and down, too).

Meanwhile, the warranty for the C-HR is five years/150,000km while the Hybrid Package warranty covers 10 years for the battery and five years for hybrid components. For customers who worry about the resale value of hybrid vehicles, Toyota offers GFV (Guarantee Future Value) within the first five years at Toyota Sure used car centres in the country.

In conclusion, I would say that although the C-HR is not perfect, the improvements that can be seen are remarkable, particularly for a brand like Toyota that can sometimes find it hard to make everyone happy due to the large number of customers around the world.

The C-HR is a great example of how Toyota is making its products more attractive and more complete. Being the only hybrid model in its segment is another bonus, although a plugin hybrid version would be more up to date in the fast-changing world of automobiles.

Toyota C-HR HV Hi specs


Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve

Displacement: 1,798cc

Bore and stroke: 80.5x88.3mm

Compression ratio: 13.0:1

Max power: 98ps/5,200rpm

Max torque: 142Nm/3,600rpm

Electric motor: 600V permanent magnet synchronous

Max power: 53kW

Max torque: 163Nm

Combined max power (engine+motor): 122ps

Combined max torque: n/a

Battery: nickel metal hydride

Modules: 28

Voltage: 201.6V

Capacity: 6.5Ah

Transmission: e-CVT

Ratios: n/a

Final drive ratio: 3.218

0-100kmh: approx. 11 seconds

Top speed: approx. 170 km/h

Average fuel economy: 24.4km/litre

Average CO2: 100g/km

Suspension (f/r): McPherson strut, stabiliser/double wishbone, stabiliser

Steering: electrically-powered rack-and-pinion

Turning circle: 10.4m

Brakes (f/r): vented disc/disc

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 4,360

Width: 1,795

Height: 1,565

Wheelbase: 2,640

Track (f/r): /1,550/1,570

Weight: approx. 1,455kgs

Wheels: 17-in alloy

Tyres: 215/60R17

Fuel tank capacity: 43 litres

Price: Bt1.159 million

Distributor: Toyota Motor (Thailand) Co Ltd