Toyota CHR 020
Toyota CHR 020

As a paid-up member of the baby boomer generation, I know my fashionable days (if I ever had any) are behind me and that marketers are targeting new audiences.

So maybe it’s not surprising that my first impression of Toyota’s new C-HR car is ambivalent. I like it but I don’t. I am perched firmly on the middle of the fence.

The C-HR — the letters stand for coupe high-rider, though the vehicle could equally be deemed a crossover between a hatchback and a sports utility vehicle — is aimed directly at millennials. So directly that, at the Gauteng launch, a Toyota marketer told me that, given my advanced years, I probably wouldn’t like the styling.

According to the company, the C-HR’s exterior design is a "combination of faceted gemstone-like shapes with fluid surfaces and elegantly integrated detailing". And let’s not forget the "aggressive wing extremities" and "blacked-out rocker panel". I can put it more simply: I think the shape — which shares a number of features with the Prius hybrid — is too fussy. To be fair, that could be because I’m so used to Toyota’s traditional styling conservatism that anything different is unfamiliar.

Beneath the busy overhangs and angles, however, is a very good car. The 1.2l turbo engine, which has a claimed top speed of 190km/h and fuel consumption of 6.3l/100km, is sprightly and responsive. The car’s interior is comfortable but with enough convenience and technology features to keep the most picky millennial happy.

Only three models are available at present, priced at R318,500, R345,000 and R356,000. Two are equipped with six-speed manual transmissions, while the third has the option of the CVT automatic transmission, which Toyota describes as "buttery smooth". More variants will follow later.

Judging by the reaction of millennials at the C-HR launch — and even that of a couple of boomers — the C-HR is likely to find a willing SA audience. The problem is that would-be owners face possible frustration. Because of global volume constraints, SA has been granted a limited monthly allocation of C-HRs for the foreseeable future. Marketers think it will be well short of demand.

Patience may prove a necessary virtue.

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