I've go to be honest, even though I am a massive fan of Toyota and own one myself, they haven't been the brand to make anything exciting over the past few years. They liked to play it safe so to speak, give consumers a product that is reliable and good rather than make something dramatic and controversial. Well I'm not quite sure what happened at the Toyota HQ when they were coming up with the idea for today's car but I'm glad it did happen! Introducing the Toyota CH-R, there's many ways people are describing this car, but the best one I've heard so far is SAV. Sports Activity Vehicle for those who aren't too clued up on acronyms. It describes the vehicle perfectly and after spending a week with it and driving over 1000km I can confidently say that this car puts to bed the comment that Toyota make boring cars.
Lets talk about the styling, I mean how can you not talk about it? It's stunning, eye catching, in your face, bold and I could go on all day. While there is no clear symmetry, some how it all works and looks fantastic, it certainly is a head turner and it got a lot of people looking as a drove past, it could also be partially due to the bright blue colour but I'm sure it was more down to the bold design. The design itself makes it look like a raised sports coupe and the rear door handles being located next to the rear window gives it that illusion as well. Toyota's designers have ventured out of their shell here but at the same time kept key aspects that make it great. It was mentioned that the CH-R was actually a concept for Toyota's sub brand Scion in the USA but after it was closed down, Toyota decided to adopt the car and badge it as its own. It's funky, hip and certainly a hit with the youth and that is who the car would be aimed at but to be honest its a car for anyone. The interior is pretty awesome too with dual cylindrical dials for your instrument cluster, a raised touch screen radio, nifty aircon controls with its own LCD screen, all in a cabin that's well designed and has lots of detail and high quality textures.
The CH-R is one of the only Toyota's with a turbo engine, it has a 1.2 litre 4 cylinder turbo petrol engine which pushes out 85kW and 185Nm of torque. Not much to write home about I know but combine this with its light body and 17" alloy wheels and you will be surprised at how nippy the CH-R is. As mentioned before, I drove over 1000km during my 7 day stint with the car and was pleasantly surprised at not only the performance of the car but also the fuel consumption with me managing to do just about 640km on one tank with 4 adults and a fully stocked boot. Note that the tank is only 40 litres, and I had a manual transmission, so that in itself is damn impressive! It picks up speed well and quite fast too, with me having to check regularly if I wasn't exceeding the speed limit, thankfully the car did have cruise control so I could set a speed and let it drive for me. Around town its just as economical and because of its size and shape, it really is fun to drive.
The car is comfortable, like any other Toyota, it is a pity that they do not offer leather seats as an option but the cloth seats it comes with is nice. Like I said, I had 4 adults in he CH-R and we all sat comfortably, the ride was smooth even with the large wheels, hardly any wind noise in the cabin. The aircon worked beautifully and access in and out the car was pretty effortless given the sloping roof. The boot space on the other hand could have been bigger with majority of the space being used up for a full size spare wheel. Also with it's edgy design, its not the best car to park with many blind spots, but the car doesn't come with PDC's or a reverse camera either. Fortunately the CH-R is not very big so it isn't that difficult to get into most spots.
Prior to getting this car to review, I had a look at it in the showroom and from my first impression, I was not that impressed with what I saw but after spending time with the car and getting a feel for it, I am actually considering getting one. Firstly it's pricing is spot on for its target market, it well priced and has everything you'd need in a car, from bluetooth audio streaming, cruise control, dual climate control aircon, electric hand brake and it looks great. However with the one engine option, and keeping the entry price low, I would have like an option list to spec the car up a bit more as it has so much potential to be more than what it is. Some creature comforts for those who aren't as young but want a CH-R for themselves, so some nice alloy options, leather seats, PDC's and reverse camera, a better LCD radio as this one isn't the best, some sound options and sun roof. Perhaps they're saving that for the second spec? We'll have to wait and see but for now, the CH-R is still a winner in my books.
1.2 litre TurboPetrol 4 cylinder
6 speed manual