2017 Toyota C-HR Koba: A Wheel Thing Car Review.

Toyota is responsible, some say to blame, for the SUV “craze”, after releasing the RAV4 in the mid 1990s. Just over twenty years later, Toyota has released what could be seen as the spiritual successor to the RAV4 if that car was to be released as a brand new car. A Wheel Thing looks at the edgy and funky Toyota C-HR.

C-HR stands for Coupe-High Rider. In profile there’s a distinct look of coupe, with a blunt nose, lonnnng headlights (950 mm thank you muchly), a steep arc to both front and rear glass, and a hidden rear door handle just visible. There’s a specific design ethos to the C-HR also, that of a diamond motif. There’s two massive crease lines that join front and rear, plunging sharply from the front and rear wheel arches, joining as a single line towards the bottom of the doors, and mirroring the angles seen from windscreen to roof to rear window. There’s black polyurethane at door’s bottom which echoes the roof line as well. It’s edgy, unusual, and in the eyes of the beholder for whether it works. It’s at the rear that you’ll see just who the C-HR is targeted at, if the name wasn’t enough to give it away. There’s more than a resemblance to a same segment vehicle from another Japanese maker, down to the hard, flat edged, tail light design. It’s busy, fussy, and with the strongly defined C shaped tail light design, just somewhat overdone and hides the supposed diamond look to the point it’s invisible. It also somehow manages to make the overall 1795 mm width look lost.What’s also lost is luggage space. With the rear seats up there’s a single person’s 377 litres, however that climbs to 1112L with flat rear seats. the rear seat passengers also have a compromided position; look left or right and you’re looking at the inside of the sharply angled rear door line. The seats are perched gher than the front’s by a considerable margin, leaving rear seat passengers looking over the shoulders of the front seats.

The Koba sits at the top of the five step C-HR range, which kicks off with a manual transmission and front wheel drive, 1.2L turbo four, and a price of $26990. Want a CVT? Add $2k. Want AWD? Add another two large. There’s also a 6.1 inch touchscreen, sans Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, active cruise control, and cloth seats. But wait, there’s more, with the Koba gettinging push button start, 18 inch alloys, heated (but no ventilation for the) front seats, cool looking LED front and rear lights, and a nifty aircon system Toyota calls Nano-E, which injects a bit of moisture into the air to stop skin drying out….

Inside it’s a move away from what could be seen as typical Toyota. Of note for A Wheel Thing is the dash design, a rarity in that there’s a hint of dash flowing into the doors rather than two ninety degree angles at each end. Fingerprint attracting piano black plastic contrasts with tactile charcoal grey plastics, a curvaceous and organic styling pleases a somewhat jaded eye and there’s plenty of all round vision. The Koba AWD also features leather appointed seats which are comfortable enough, supportive enough, and featured colour coded stitching in the trim. There’s reasonable room as well, considering the 4360 mm overall length. Above both driver and passenger is diamond motifs embossed into the material.Motorvation comes from a turbo four, a weensie 1.2L engine, and produces 85 kilowatts between 5200 to 5600 revs. It’s a good torque spread, between 1500 to 400, with 185 torques on tap. Acceleration? Leisurely is a word used often and perhaps overused but it applies perfectly here, especially with a car with a gross vehicle mass under two tonne.It’s also hamstrung somewhat by a CVT. No, it’s not a shocker, but no, it’s not responsive enough either. Off the line and punched hard, it’s typical CVT in that it feels like it’s not grabbing all of the drive on tap. It’s better when a gentle right foot is used and perhaps equal when under way and used for gentle, not rapid, overtaking.The transmission is fitted with seven “steps” which make only minimal difference when used in manual mode. There is also, naturally, a torque split system that’ll vary between front to all four on demand at up to fifty percent of the drive. That, at least, is seamless and unnoticeable.What does come out of this combo is pretty decent fuel economy. From the fifty litre tank, A Wheel Thing extracted nothing worse than 7.5L/100 on an urban cycle, just beating Toyota’s claim of 8.0L/100km. Around the highways and freeways there was 6.0L/100 km, not quite reaching the 5.6L/100 km Toyota says. Backing up that economy is a better than expected ride quality and handling package. The steering is well weighted, progressive in its transfer from straight to tightening radius to curves and twisty corners. It’s also en pointe in the city, with responsive levels from minimal input, making the C-HR quite manouevrable.Get the petite five door onto the freeway and there’s only tyre noise to hear and that’s dependent on the surface. Punt it into a normal corner and experience flatness, with even speedy cornering most unfazing the C-HR. It’s really only in slower corners, when torque is at the front, where a hint of understeer may be experienced and even with a delightfully progressive brake, there’s barely a hint of dive. All this means the C-HR delivers a good balance between supple, comfort, and sport.

Safety is a full package on the Koba; pre-tensioning seatbelts, blind spot alert, seven airbags, cross traffic alert, and hill start assist. That’s in addition to the three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty, with servicing every twelve months or fifteen thousand klicks. Want more? There’s also an impressive $195 per year for five years capped price service scheme.

At The End Of The Drive.
It’s an eyecatching design, to say the least. You can specify a black or white roof with selected colours at $450, and it’s not unattractive inside. It’s the 1.2L engine and CVT mix that pulls the package back and dulls the edge of the driving appeal. But it depends on the application of the right foot as to how the overall driving experience works for you. Toyota Australia website will tell you more and it’s worth booking a test drive if you think this is in your target to buy.

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