It’s best to think of the C-HR Hybrid as a Toyota Prius in drag. Both cars sit on the same platform and are powered by the same 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor, which send their combined power to the front wheels through an automatic gearbox. It’s a recipe that works remarkably well in the latest Prius, but the C-HR’s taller stance and heavier body do spoil things a bit.
For starters, the C-HR takes noticeably longer to get up to speed than its fuel-sipping sibling, and its petrol engine always seems to be working that bit harder. Diesel rivals, such as the Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI and Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi, aren’t actually much faster, but they get you up to speed in a far more relaxed fashion.
The cheaper 1.2-litre petrol version has less power than the Hybrid but also weighs less, so is actually slightly faster. Performance is roughly on a par with its key rivals, including the Ateca 1.0 TSI and Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T.
Toyota C-HR ride comfort
This depends on which engine you choose. The 1.2-litre petrol on 18in wheels rides quite well; it isn’t soft and wallowy like some SUVs, so there’s no nausea-inducing body bounce along undulating roads. Just as impressively, the C-HR smoothes over ruts and broken Tarmac around town better than, say, a Seat Ateca or a Peugeot 3008.
The Hybrid is less impressive; its extra weight gives the suspension a harder job to do. On the same 18in alloys, things are more unsettled around town, so we suspect 17in wheels might be a better choice if you’re buying this version.
Toyota C-HR handling
As with the ride, this depends on which engine you go for. The lighter 1.2-litre petrol is remarkably agile by small SUV standards, staying upright and hanging on gamely through tight twists and turns. Even its steering is accurate, delivering enough feedback to give you confidence through faster bends while staying light during low-speed manoeuvres.
Meanwhile, the Hybrid version is hampered slightly by its extra mass, so it never feels quite as light on its toes. You only really notice this on faster, twisting roads, though, and it still handles well by small SUV standards. It’s just a pity the steering feels a bit more artificial than in the 1.2 version.
Toyota C-HR refinement
At very low speeds, the Hybrid version can power itself using its electric motor only, so it’s much quieter than a conventional petrol or diesel alternative. The trouble is, even relatively gentle acceleration requires the help of the petrol engine, at which point things gets a bit rowdy.
The blame lies with the CVT automatic gearbox which, whenever you squeeze your right foot, causes the revs to rise suddenly and stay high until you’re up to your desired speed, filling the interior with an annoying drone in the process.
The 1.2-litre petrol version is quieter; it actually has a more refined engine than rivals such as the Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI. The 1.2’s six-speed manual gearbox is also light and positive and there’s enough feel through the clutch and brake pedals to make smooth driving easy. Less impressive is the amount of wind noise on the motorway.
This entry-level petrol engine has enough oomph and is pleasantly hushed – even when worked hard. Shame fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren’t a bit better.
Easily the best choice if you’re a company car driver. The trouble is, the Hybrid isn’t as good to drive as the 1.2 petrol version, is more expensive for private buyers and is also quite noisy out of the city limits.