Toyota's refreshed C-HR is now safer, more connected, and a whole lot more hip


Quick highlights:

• Sharpened front-end styling

• Safety upgrades to all models, Toyota Safety Sense now available

• Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added

• Three-grade line-up continues (Standard, Plus and Luxury)

• New Inferno Orange and Passion Red body colours

Toyota's C-HR might not be a volume-seller, but its compact crossover, the C-HR, does cater to a niche market - one that sees the brand sell an average of about 130 units per month. The automaker has launched an upgraded version of its feisty little car in the Western Cape this week, which includes a restyled front and rear design tweaks, and a whole lot of safety and specification updates.

A niche product

Because the C-HR is such a niche vehicle, it's interesting to know that there's a market for this crossover despite its premium price. This goes up against the new, upgraded Nissan Micra 1.0-litre as a direct rival. While pricing might be at the upper-spectrum, these cars come loaded with standard goods that you would usually pay a whole lot extra for in other competitors in its segment.

It is a case of "what you see, is what you get" and there's a lot of it. There are loads of tech, driving system aides, and soft-touch materials laden inside the refreshed C-HR. For that kind of comfort, driving dynamics, and spills of thrills, the price is then worth its weight in gold.

The automaker has also mentioned that the brand-new generation Corolla will be launching imminently in South Africa, so it's always interesting to see how this vehicle will continue to do locally. 

So what's new?

Toyota SA says the front and rear sections of the vehicle have received some nips and tucks. The front bumper is now much wider, giving the C-HR a much more assertive stance, along with a now-painted lower lip. It also features a wider and larger lower air dam and more vertically positioned side air intakes, which also adds to the new menacing face.

The fog lights have been repositioned to a higher and more outward placing while the headlights on base and Plus models have been upgraded to LED technology to bring it in-line with the Luxury model. The daytime running lights (DRLs) and indicators have been combined into one frontal projector emitting a single line above the main beam. A gloss black spoiler connects new bright red taillights at the rear of the car.

2020 Toyota C-HR

                       2020 Toyota C-HR. Image: Cornel van Heerden / MotorPress

Under the bonnet

No changes in the power terrain, so the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine remains as the lead character in the range, mated either to a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT gearbox. Power figures are still 85kW/185Nm with a claimed 6.3-litres/100km of fuel (6.4-litres/100km for the CVT). Toyota says the CO2 emissions are rated at 141 – 144g/km.

There have also been a few dynamic tweaks with a modified EPS tuning for an improved steering feel, says the automaker. Cabin noise has been reduced across the range with a new NVH pack. There are 17-inch wheels on the base model, while the Plus and Luxury models receive turbine-shaped 18-inch alloy wheels.

What's it like to drive?

We drove the 1.2-litre Luxury versions mated to that refined CVT found in the C-HR. There's no whiney turbo lagging, and gear shifts are seamless. Those 85kW are a good fit for the size of the vehicle and that 185Nm on tap makes for confident overtaking on Route 62 through the Western Cape.

We drove from Cape Town to Bredasdorp, then to Barrydale, and on to George. It took on the twisty passes with aplomb and sat in those tight sweeping S-bends that would put other sportier, larger models to shame. And, not once did the little C-HR ever tire. That 1.2-litre engine in this car is a great unit, and despite some heavy-foot driving on some of the best passes in the Cape, fuel consumption peaked at about 7.6-litres/100km with the aircon on full blast throughout the entire two days.

I would like to see how it fares in stop-and-go peak morning- and afternoon traffic to the city and back home on the daily commute.

The driver seat can be electronically adjusted, making it easy to find the perfect driving position. Legroom in the rear is quite generous for a car this size, and so is elbow room in the front. The boot isn't very deep, but its storage size is more than sufficient.

2020 Toyota C-HR

                       2020 Toyota C-HR. Image: Cornel van Heerden / MotorPress

Fully loaded with tech

Toyota says the C-HR debuts a new OEM-sourced multimedia system that upgrades their connectivity offer. The automaker says: "This system now allows full smartphone integration and supports even the latest versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This feature allows occupants to mirror their cellphone on the vehicle screen - opening up a world of connectivity options, including music streaming and navigation solutions."

The automaker also announced its Toyota Connect in September 2019, meaning that all new Toyota and Lexus models would come with wi-fi connectivity, which allows the vehicle to be turned into a hotspot. Connectivity is effortless to set up since its a standard feature in the vehicle. All you have to do as the owner is to activate the system by purchasing a Toyota Data bundle.

However, all first-time, new owners get a once-off 15-Gig data bundle when purchasing any vehicle. Thereafter, data bundles - which are Vodacom products - start from R220 for 5gigs over 30 days.

When using the MyToyota app, the hotspot also comes in handy for vehicle telematics and enhanced user features like playing or downloading your music, navigation, and receiving messages. 

We drove through some pretty remote areas such as the Robinson Pass, and the Tradouw Pass and connection stayed pretty constant except for the seldom spot or two along the way.

The screen size has also been enlarged from 6.1- to 8-inches (20cm) as part of the multimedia enhancement. The Multi-information Display (MID) screen has also been upgraded from 3.7- to 4.2-inches (10cm) on the Plus grade.

2020 Toyota C-HR

                       2020 Toyota C-HR. Image: Cornel van Heerden / MotorPress

Colour me bad

The Standard and Plus models are available in six exterior body colours, including the brand-new Inferno Orange and Oxide Bronze metallic shades. The Luxury model is offered exclusively in bi-tone configuration – with Passion Red, Nebula Blue, and Inferno Orange being the latest tints on offer – all paired with a black roof.

More safety goodies

Safety features have been enhanced across the range, which means the base (Standard) and Plus trim models receive - in addition to dual front airbags - side, curtain, and driver knee airbags. The rear seatbelt force limiters and pre-tensioners have been added to the standard grade derivative, while the range-topping ‘Luxury’ grade model gets the ultimate full house package in terms of electronic driver safety aids. The Toyota Safety Sense system includes Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Lane Change Assist (LCA), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Pre-crash system, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Lane Keeping Assist.

All C-HR models are sold with six-services or a 90 000km service plan (intervals set at 15 000km) and a three-year or 100 000km warranty. Customers can also purchase a variety of service and/or warranty add-ons at their local dealership, says the automaker.

2020 Toyota C-HR

                       2020 Toyota C-HR. Image: Cornel van Heerden / MotorPress


Toyota C-HR 1.2T – R371 700

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus – R403 000

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT – R415 100

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT – R476 600

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