If Toyota wanted a car that stands out in the crowd, they have achieved this with the C-HR, which gets a nip and tuck for 2020. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
If Toyota wanted a car that stands out in the crowd, they have achieved this with the C-HR, which gets a nip and tuck for 2020. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Toyota has more or less rediscovered that it’s a premium car maker. This shouldn’t be a surprise given that some of its more recent cars, such as the Rav4 and particularly the new Corolla hatch, are founded on new virtues of refinement and excitement where once the company was famed for dull pragmatism. 

These days Toyota is known for its attractive hatches, and crossovers such as the C-HR, which has received a fairly comprehensive update.

You’ll get no arguments that its bulbous shape looks nothing like the Nissan Juke, Citroën C3 Aircross and Hyundai Kona it goes against in the chic crossover segment, a category that sells everyday practicality but with expressive, individualistic aesthetics.

Standing there, it’s an eruption of deeply contoured body sides, and in the middle of that moon-buggy-inspired curviness are living quarters fashioned with a rakish roof.

The C-HR cabin is roomy and comfortable, with good ergonomics and no squeaking. Picture: SUPPLIED
The C-HR cabin is roomy and comfortable, with good ergonomics and no squeaking. Picture: SUPPLIED

There are six exterior shade options, of which Inferno Orange and Oxide Bronze metallic are new. The Luxury grade also gets exclusively offered in bi-tone configuration — with Passion Red, Nebula Blue and Inferno Orange being the latest colour schemes on offer, all paired with a black roof.

Most of the physical change zeroes in on the front end, where the front bumper is widened and larger. More vertically positioned side air intakes enhance the grimace, while the fog lamps have been moved to a higher, more outward perch.

Detail changes see standard and Plus-grade cars get LED headlights with daytime running lights and integrated indicators. A new gloss-black spoiler appears at the rear, as well as brighter tail lamps.

It’s a good look that relates to the new Corolla and a profile like nothing else from Toyota, and indeed from rival brands. 

Thanks to a low swooping roof, the four-to-five-seater interior has less room than a conventional crossover but is spacious enough and not cramped in the back. The 328l boot volume is surprisingly cavernous too.

Driving the Luxury-spec C-HR that comes with a lot of kit as standard, the 2020 iteration enhances the caboodle of spec to now include a multimedia system with fuller smartphone integration and support for the latest versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

MOST OF THE PHYSICAL CHANGE ZEROES IN ON THE FRONT-END WHERE THE FRONT BUMPER IS WIDENED AND LARGER

Both main display and multi-information display screens in the Plus grade have been enlarged to 20cm and 10cm respectively. The C-HR also benefits from Toyota’s complimentary 15GB in-car Wi-Fi allocation at purchase.

The quality and ergonomics of the snug cabin are superb and there were no squeaks, despite the proximity of leather to plastic-covered panels and surfaces.

On the move, the standard across the turbo 1.2l four-potter, that is paired to either a six-speed manual or a CVT gearbox, puts down its 85W and 185Nm effortlessly and finely in its FWD configuration.

More surprisingly, it rides with compliance and low NVH (noise vibrations and harshness) levels usually associated with higher-end cars.

What the C-HR is not is an athlete, but it felt keen when engaged sportily. Ultimately, it’s a far better cruiser than a racer, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring, as buyers in this niche are more interested in style anyway.

The facelift also introduces Toyota’s Safety Sense system, albeit only on the Luxury specification. This is a suite of electronic driver safety aids including Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-crash system, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist.

All C-HR models are sold with a six-service/90,000km service plan and three-year/100,000km warranty.

Pricing

Toyota C-HR 1.2T — R371,700

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus — R403,000

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT — R415,100

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