Toyota’s modern petrol-electric hybrid driving experience is now sufficiently well established that time at the wheel of the C-HR is unlikely to surprise or bemuse a great many UK drivers.
But it’s disappointing that this particular car conforms so closely to that dry, plodding, one-dimensional Toyota hybrid type, given that it has been designed and engineered in so many other ways to represent a bolder and more exciting take on the crossover.
It wouldn’t have taken much, surely, for the C-HR’s hybrid powertrain to create a more athletic impression than the rather more upgright crossovers it’s up against: the Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca and Renault Kadjar for instance. Given the strides Toyota showed with the current Prius, which shares the C-HR’s hybrid powertrain, that didn’t feel like such an unrealistic expectation before we drove the car.
But the C-HR is not only relatively slow but also feels reluctant. The powertrain has Eco, Normal and Power modes, as Toyota hybrids tend to, and part of the problem is that they’re switched not via a button on the centre console (as they have been on every hybrid Toyota we can remember) but via the drive computer and the buttons on the steering wheel spokes. So you can drive for a long while without realising that there’s a way to mitigate the deadness of the accelerator pedal’s initial travel.
In outright terms, it’s only about a second that the car gives up to its rivals on 0-60mph acceleration and half as much again on 30-70mph sprinting. But given that you have to flatten the pedal to make the C-HR feel like it’s picking up speed with any urgency whatsoever, you’d guess the difference was much greater.