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Dave Humphreys

Can you believe this daring new car is a Toyota? We review the C-HR hybrid

Does the Toyota C-HR hybrid drive as well as it looks? We find out.

SALES OF MIDSIZED crossovers have exploded over the last five years with the segment populated with big hitters such as the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.

Now Toyota wants a piece of the crossover action with its funky-looking petrol-electric hybrid C-HR (Coupe-High Rider).

Can you believe that this daring concept-looking car is from Toyota? It is wildly different from anything that has gone before and I for one love it. I adore its sharp lines and creases and eye-catching features that make it stand out from the crowd. Bravo Toyota for being so adventurous with the design.

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Inside isn’t quite so bold, but it is certainly the best cabin Toyota has produced in a long time. It not only looks good, it feels good too. It features a dashboard that wraps around the front occupants, with a lovely smattering of glossy piano black inlays and a decent amount of soft plastics and leather.

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However, its swooping coupe-like design has impacted on the car’s practicality: rear window visibility is terrible, and the back of the cabin feels cramped and dark due to those small side windows.

That said, you’ll get two adults and a child back there comfortably, especially because the floor is almost flat and there is room to put your feet under the front seats. Toyota has addressed the visibility issue by fitting all models with a rear-view camera.

The boot is a tad on the small size with its 377 to 1,160-litre capacity, which is more on par with compact SUVs and hatchbacks than other midsized crossovers.

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Out on the road, the MacPherson-strut front and a double wishbone rear suspension is a little firm, but the supple damping means the C-HR does a good job of gliding over potholes and rough roads making it a comfortable car to drive. The supportive seats and relatively quiet cabin also add to the comfort factor.

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It is built on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) platform, which also underpins the new Prius. It can be had with a 1.2-litre petrol engine or, as my test car had, a 1.8-litre four-cylinder VVT-i petrol engine with two AC permanent magnet synchronous electric motors. It is mated to an electronic continuously variable (E-CVT) transmission.

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But why would you want to buy a hybrid? Well, the first reason is it is cheaper to tax (€180 per year) than the petrol version (€280). The hybrid gets better fuel economy too with those on 17-inch wheels returning 3.8 litres/100km (74.33mpg). Fuel economy for the petrol is 5.9-6.0 litres/100km (47.87-47.08mpg).

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However, to see this type of fuel economy you do have to drive the car gently. When driven a bit more enthusiastically the engine does sound thrashy and coarse, and you need a delicate right foot to stop the revs from soaring. So the C-HR is ideal for urban driving but not so much for those who like to drive a bit more enthusiastically, on the back roads.

The C-HR is available in three trims: Luna from €29,350, Luna Sport from €29,950 and Sol from €32,950.

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The top spec comes with Toyota’s Intelligent Parking Assist (Simple IPA), which searches for, finds and steers the car into a parking space while you just operate the pedals and forward and reverse gear selection.

Overall, the head-turning C-HR is a worthwhile addition to the popular midsize crossover segment thanks to its futuristic design, quality cabin, sharp handling, cheap running costs and generous equipment levels.

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