Toyota is enjoying spectacular sales growth from its petrol-sipping hybrid cars in Australia, with core models such as the RAV4 and Corolla leading the charge.
The aggressively-styled C-HR small crossover picked up its own electrified drivetrain in October last year, headlining a range of updates.
While not the performance upgrade that the bold styling hints at, it significantly reduces fuel use and CO2 emissions, not to mention driving refinement around town.
How much does the Toyota C-HR hybrid cost?
It’s not particularly cheap, this C-HR hybrid. That’s because it’s only available in top-of-the-range ‘Koba’ specification.
Toyota demands a list price of $36,440 before on-road costs, equating to a drive-away price of about $40,700 unless you can wrangle a discount.
It wears a $2500 premium over the non-hybrid model. It’s also about $3000 more expensive than the most expensive Corolla hybrid model, the ZR hatchback, which shares the same engine and platform.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s priced in line with a larger RAV4 hybrid in base GX guise, which is infinitely more practical but less luxurious.
In fairness, the only other hybrid in the class is Subaru’s XV, which costs $35,580 before on-roads. You’re also paying similar money for a top of the range Mazda CX-3 or Hyundai Kona. Small SUVs aren’t cheap in general.
What do you get?
All C-HRs get alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, LED daytime running lights and fog lights, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, six speakers, and one-touch power windows.
The Koba spec adds 18-inch wheels (in place of 17s), LED headlights with auto high-beam, privacy glass, a proximity key with push-button start, a surround-view camera, leather-accented seat trim with heating for front occupants, powered lumbar adjustment for the driver, and a Nanoe filter for the AC unit.
Is the Toyota C-HR hybrid safe?
It should be. Crash tester ANCAP awarded the C-HR five stars in 2017 (87 per cent for adult occupant protection, 77 per cent for children, 65 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 68 per cent for safety assist) and carried this over to the hybrid version when it launched.
You get seven airbags, and rear ISOFIX child seat anchors and top tethers.
Driver-assistance tech includes pre-collision alert and autonomous emergency braking that detects pedestrians, lane-departure alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert (handy, given the blind spots this car’s design yield), and parking sensors at both ends.
“Tests of this [AEB] system at highway speeds showed good performance, with collisions avoided or mitigated in all test scenarios,” ANCAP said in its report.
It’s worth noting ANCAP gave the C-HR 0/3 for Speed Assistance and thereby hurt its overall score, yet it has all-speed active cruise control fitted as standard.
One thing we’d like to see is the Corolla’s Lane Trace Control system that works to keep the car centred on highways through steering intervention.
What is the Toyota C-HR hybrid like on the inside?
Quite nice, actually. The funky design goes well with the exterior, and the padded touch points are offset by design quirks such as blue backlighting, diamond-pattern door trims, and roof scalloping above the passenger’s head.
The buttoned steering wheel and seats have plenty of adjustment to get you ergonomically settled, and the driver’s instruments flank a small TFT screen with digital speedo and hybrid drivetrain graphic.
The lack of a head-up display is a shame, though – the Corolla ZR has one after all.
The new centre touchscreen faces the driver and is simple enough to interface with. It’s far slicker and more modern that what the C-HR launched with, and the presence of hard buttons and knobs alongside screen controls make things user-friendly.
Storage space isn’t especially great: the centre console is small, though the door bins can happily swallow a bottle. There’s a single cupholder ahead of the driver and a small glovebox too.
One thing we’d like to see is a flat tray with a Qi wireless phone charger, like the Corolla and RAV4 offer.
As the swoopy roof suggests, headroom isn’t brilliant for anyone north of 190cm, and which reinforces Toyota’s wise decision not to make a space-cutting sunroof standard. If you want a driving position that feels like a coupe, only with a slightly higher road view, then this is what you’re after.
Outboard visibility isn’t great, since those raked side windows, the small tailgate glass, and the large c-pillars combine to create some significant blind spots.