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Toyota C-HR 2019 review: Koba 2WD

EXPERT RATING
7.1
Toyota might have arrived late to the compact SUV party, but has the C-HR Koba FWD been worth the wait? We put it to the test to find out.

The C-HR is a banner of hope for Toyota; a new beginning for a carmaker which has always struggled to find a foothold in the youth market.

It tries - and it makes a hell of a Rukus when it does - but there's always something that diverts sales straight into the hands of baby boomers. It's uncanny.

The C-HR, though; funky spaceship looks, fun interior details and a reasonably pugnacious vibe should catch those pesky young buyers who spurned Toyota's previous valiant attempts.

Well, that’s the plan. But there are some key things that young buyers want, so let’s see if Toyota has come to the party.

Toyota C-HR 2018: KOBA (2WD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$29,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?  8/10

As a whole, this is a cracker of a design, and it’s a real eye-opener when you tell people unfamiliar with the C-HR that it's a Toyota. "Really? Wow!"

The chunkiness, the bluff front end, the wild rear that is as polarising as the one on the Honda Civic - it's really quite something. I love looking at it and finding new details that I really enjoy.

The wild rear that is as polarising as the one on the Honda Civic - it's really quite something. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The wild rear that is as polarising as the one on the Honda Civic - it's really quite something. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Well, except the genuinely awful rear doorhandles. I think I know where the designers were going, but they don't work.

Inside is just as interesting. It's a terrific interior with cute details everywhere, like the diamond shapes carved out of the headlining which are echoed in the sills and climate switchgear. Everything is clear and crisp, apart from the multimedia system and the silly old clock. The dash even has a G-meter, which is… ambitious.

It's a terrific interior with cute details everywhere. Everything is clear and crisp, apart from the multimedia system. (image credit: Peter Anderson) It's a terrific interior with cute details everywhere. Everything is clear and crisp, apart from the multimedia system. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Most of the materials are top-notch, but I'm not sold on the contrasting brown/maroon trim pieces against the dark grey of the rest of the interior. I kind of prefer the non leather of the base model, too.

How practical is the space inside?  7/10

Built as it is on the same platform as the new Corolla, the C-HR is quite roomy for its size. It's bigger than it looks, too.

Rear space for passengers is exactly average. It’s vastly better than the very tight CX-3 (which is based on the Mazda2), but not nearly as roomy as the Jazz-based Honda HR-V (not many cars are). 

Headroom is good, while legroom is not bad for someone my height (180cm). (image credit: Peter Anderson) Headroom is good, while legroom is not bad for someone my height (180cm). (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Headroom is good, legroom is not bad for someone my height (180cm) behind my driving position, and you can get your feet under the high-set front seats.

Boot space is also in the middle of pack, with 377 litres on offer seats-up, and 1112 litres when you drop them.

  • There's 377 litres of boot space with the rear seats up. (image credit: Peter Anderson) There's 377 litres of boot space with the rear seats up. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Dropping the seats down results in 1112 litres. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Dropping the seats down results in 1112 litres. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Front passengers score a long, narrow bin between the seats, two separate cupholders (rather than grouped in a pair), and bottle holders in the doors. Rear seat passengers have to use the doors for their cups, and as such there are no bottle holders.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  6/10

The CH-R comes in two trim levels - no name and Koba. You start at $26,990 for the manual front-wheel drive (FWD), add $2000 for the auto, and end up at $30,990 for the auto all-wheel drive (AWD).

Step up to the Koba and $35,290 fetches you the AWD auto. But our car for the week was the $33,290 FWD version.

That deal scores you 17-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, a digital clock from 1981, sat nav, fake leather trim, heated and folding mirrors, auto wipers and headlights and a space-saver spare tyre.

  • The Koba scores 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The Koba scores 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • 2019 Toyota C-HR Koba | wheel gallery | Peter Anderson 2019 Toyota C-HR Koba | wheel gallery | Peter Anderson

Unfortunately, the world's lowest-effort touchscreen hardware and software is on board, which remains one of the car's biggest disappointments. The system is shared with various other Toyotas and it's bordering on dire the longer it survives. The screen is dim, the design like a late-90s Winamp skin and the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provides most of the nails required to knock together a coffin for the idea that this is a car the youth will dig, daddy-o. 

And having to plug a charge cord into the USB port on the head unit itself creates visual clutter, which is a crying shame. Way to make a great cabin design go clunk.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  6/10

The entire range is powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. You are not buying a C-HR for its power - just 85kW/185Nm is available to drag the 1400kg-plus Koba around (heavier if it's AWD). That's okay, though - I don't for a moment think the people who are actually buying one care very much.

The 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces just 85kW/185Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces just 85kW/185Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Unfortunately, the power reaches the road via Toyota's indifferent continuously variable transmission (CVT).

How much fuel does it consume?  8/10

Toyota says the CVT front-wheel drivers use 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle. My week with the car, which was spent in the suburbs and doing some freeway running, returned an indicated 8.0L/100km, which wasn't bad at all.

What's it like to drive?  7/10

Frustrating. But not because it's bad. Not at all. Underneath that chunky body is Toyota's TNGA platform. The company made the right decision in waiting to enter the compact SUV fray; it could have gotten away with jacking up the old Corolla or the Yaris, but neither would have been as good as this.

The TNGA version is much better. The biggest let down is the engine-transmission combination. I've already said that most owners won't care about the 85kW output, but every single competitor blows the Toyota away by having around 15kW more. With the exception of the deeply ordinary ASX, which appeals to very different buyers, they all have either a torque converter or twin-clutch automatic, or in the case of Honda, a vastly better CVT.

Normally CVTs work really well with low torque engines, but the C-HR is set up for fuel economy. Even in Sport mode - which is so much better than Eco - the transmission is playing the long game and getting in the way of quick getaways and city darting around. It's a huge shame, because you can feel there's a good car underneath you, it's just let down by the driveline. More power and a better transmission would put the C-HR near the top of the pack.

Once you're up and running, the car is really good. A quiet cruiser and an eminently comfortable rider, it was a hit with passengers. Rear passengers complained about the way the window sweeps up making things a bit dark in the back, but were otherwise happy with the experience.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  8/10

The C-HR ships with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB, active cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera and hill start assist.

That lot puts it on a good footing when compared with the CX-3, although the Mazda does trump the C-HR on price, the inclusion of reversing AEB and fewer caveats on the active safety systems (i.e. speed limits).

The C-HR scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  7/10

oyota offers an increasingly uncompetitive three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist available as an option. You can purchase up to six years' worth.

Capped-price servicing is as easy as it gets; for the first five years you'll pay $195 per service, and you only have to visit the dealer every 12 months or 15,000km, which is pretty good.

Pricing Guides

$31,030
Based on 175 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$26,888
Highest Price
$35,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(2WD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $26,888 – 29,990 2018 TOYOTA C-HR 2018 (2WD) Pricing and Specs
(2WD) 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $24,977 – 29,990 2018 TOYOTA C-HR 2018 (2WD) Pricing and Specs
(AWD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $28,771 – 30,990 2018 TOYOTA C-HR 2018 (AWD) Pricing and Specs
KOBA (2WD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $29,990 – 35,585 2018 TOYOTA C-HR 2018 KOBA (2WD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Price and features6
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption8
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership7

The C-HR is still missing that youth appeal it so desperately craves, falling short on the tech front. I can't see someone who likes driving being willing to live with a 0-100km/h time that requires carbon dating. On the upside, it's beautifully built, looks great and, if you can live with the slowness, is fun to drive.”

Do you care that the C-HR is a laggard? Is it the right car for Toyota's youth push?