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Toyota C-HR Hybrid 2020 review: Koba long-term

The C-HR Koba Hybrid is the most expensive small SUV from Toyota.

✅ Report 1 - June 2020

Welcome to 2020, where a worldwide pandemic has stymied travelling and kept nearly all of us confined to our dwellings for weeks at a time.

However, 2020 will also go down as the first year that Toyota cements its hybrid car dominance in the Australian market, with the electrified Corolla and RAV4 models taking off in popularity.

And it doesn't stop there, either, with the newly-arrived hybrid Yaris, as well as a refresh for the Camry on the horizon, Toyota will offer more than ever before for buyers looking to save money at the bowser.

Arguably though, it’s the C-HR small SUV that should capture the hearts and minds of Australia’s SUV-hungry public, which is why we’ve got it for five months to see if it fits the bill for a young, soon-to-be-parents, inner-city couple.

The Koba Hybrid is the most expensive C-HR currently available in Australia. The Koba Hybrid is the most expensive C-HR currently available in Australia.

Priced at $37,190, before on-road costs, the Koba Hybrid is the most expensive C-HR currently available in Australia.

With the cheapest Toyota small SUV costing $30,290, stepping up to the electrified version represents a noticeable 23 per cent increase in price.

The Hybrid version of the C-HR is certainly on the expensive side, especially because it is limited to a front-wheel-drive configuration, whereas the other 1.2-litre turbo-petrol version can be had with all-wheel drive.

Don’t be put off too much by that, though, because how much extra grip do you actually need in an inner-city, small SUV runabout?

On the outside, the Koba is distinguished by 18-inch wheels and rear privacy glass. On the outside, the Koba is distinguished by 18-inch wheels and rear privacy glass.

More importantly, our long-term C-HR is the top-of-the-line Koba grade, meaning a long laundry list of equipment.

On the outside, the Koba is distinguished by 18-inch wheels and rear privacy glass, but keen-eyed spotters will also note the blue badges used for the Toyota logo that denotes hybrid models.

Inside C-HR Koba scores leather-accented seats. Inside C-HR Koba scores leather-accented seats.

Inside, the C-HR Koba scores an electronic park brake, heated front seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, leather-accented seats, 4.2-inch driver display, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and soft-touch steering wheel and shifter.

Handling multimedia duties is an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, which outputs to six speakers littered throughout the cabin, and also features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, voice control and in-built satellite navigation.

Handling multimedia duties is an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen. Handling multimedia duties is an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

Toyota’s 'Safety Sense' suite is also fitted, which includes lane departure warning, auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning, while blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, hill-start assist, a reversing camera and seven airbags are also included.

So comprehensive is the equipment list, the only options available are metallic paint and a two-tone roof, which are priced at $500 and $450, respectively.

However, all this gear can be had on the non-electrified Koba variants for less money, so the extra spend is really to justify the hybrid powertrain.

Under the bonnet of our long-termer is a 1.8-litre petrol engine, which outputs 74kW/142Nm, paired to an electric motor punching out 53kW/162Nm.

The total system output is 90kW according to Toyota, which is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

This output might not seem all too exciting, especially given the cheaper 1.2-litre version reaches 85kW/185Nm, but it's in fuel economy where the C-HR comes into its own.

With an official consumption figure of 4.3 litres per 100km, the C-HR Hybrid is one of the most frugal small SUVs available in Australia.

In reality, and after a month with the car relegated to inner-city driving during Melbourne’s lockdown, we managed a figure of 5.1L/100km after just over 600 kilometres of driving – which has been severely restricted.

What’s also nice, is that the C-HR Koba Hybrid only needs 91RON petrol.

If fuel economy is high on your wish list, and an SUV is a must, there really is no beating the Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid.

But what about the rest of the package?

From the outside, the C-HR certainly looks stylish and distinctive, though we will leave it to you to determine if you like the sharp aesthetics or not.

From the outside, the C-HR certainly looks stylish and distinctive. From the outside, the C-HR certainly looks stylish and distinctive.

In our opinion, the C-HR delivers the right amount of millennial appeal thanks to the hidden rear door handles, angular front fascia and sharp rear end. But your mileage may vary.

Our test car is finished in a fairly inconspicuous silver colour, but head-turning exterior shades are available including blue, yellow, orange and red, while the two-tone roof option can make your C-HR stand out from the crowd even further.

Inside, the C-HR also delivers in the style department thanks to a mix of gloss-black and soft-touch surfaces, but more on that – as well as practicality – in the coming months.

Acquired: June 2020
Distance travelled this month: 634km
Odometer: 6234km
Average fuel consumption for June: 5.1L/100 (measured at the pump)

✅ Report 2 - July 2020

The rise in popularity of the SUV has long been documented, but there is a misconception that this style of vehicle is more practical than the humble hatchback.

After all, SUVs are larger physically than their car siblings, despite often being built on the same platform, blocking sight lines on every street corner as you slowly creep forward to make sure the traffic is clear for that right-hander.

A small C-HR probably won’t fit the bill for young families. A small C-HR probably won’t fit the bill for young families.

With a higher ride height, increased visibility for drivers and substantially more road presence, it would be safe to assume that bigger equals more space, right?

Here to put that theory to the test is our Toyota C-HR long-termer.

Our Toyota small SUV has been with us for a few months now, and while it certainly is capable of ferrying a young couple around town for the usual trip to the shops or commute, this young couple happens to expanding to a trio soon enough.

With that in mind, can something like the C-HR handle its usual duties, as well as be a vessel to transport a newborn, car seat and pram?

Those starting a family might be better off looking at an SUV in the size above. Those starting a family might be better off looking at an SUV in the size above.

The short answer is no, but the long answer sheds a bit more light on the question of why a small C-HR won’t fit the bill for young families.

Firstly, the boot of the C-HR is quite small, with a total volume capacity of only 377 litres.

Based on the same TNGA platform as the Corolla small car, the C-HR certainly offers more space in the boot than the Corolla hatch (217L – one of its biggest flaws), but is also down when compared to the sedan (470L).

The boot's volume capacity is only 377 litres. The boot's volume capacity is only 377 litres.

A large reason for this is the C-HR's modest overall length (4390mm), which doesn’t leave much room in the boot to fit something as large and bulky as a pram with a bassinet.

To be fair, its fine for things like weekly groceries or a medium and small suitcase (pictured), but add much more and things start to get crowded.

The boot is adequate for weekly shops and suitcases. The boot is adequate for weekly shops and suitcases.

We also reckon a standard stroller, or pram with a child seat and not the bassinet, will be accommodated, but without much room for anything else.

Rivals in the segment offer more room, such as the Kia Seltos (433L) and Nissan Qashqai (430L), but lack a frugal petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

Is the less room in the boot worth it to save money/time on trips to the bowser? That’s a question you have to answer yourself, but it’s clear the C-HR is not suited for growing families.

A standard stroller with a child seat and not the bassinet, will be accommodated. A standard stroller with a child seat and not the bassinet, will be accommodated.

As for the rear seats, a rearward-facing car seat will fit easily enough, and has enough room to manoeuvre all the belts and buckles.

The ISOFIX mounting points are easy to find, but are only fitted to the two outboard rear seats, though all three have a top tether clipping point.

Once the car seat is in place, though, front passengers might find there isn’t much room left for them.

Once the car seat is in place, room up front is tight. Once the car seat is in place, room up front is tight.

When installed behind the driver, we found there was enough space to pilot the C-HR, but only over short distances and my 183cm (6'0') frame was certainly not in the preferred driving position.

With the child seat in the back, this driving position is certainly not a preferred one. With the child seat in the back, this driving position is certainly not a preferred one.

While child seats just fit the C-HR, Toyota’s small SUV might be better used for larger kids on booster seats or as a dog transporter, rather than an outright family hauler.

Those starting a family might be better off looking at an SUV in the size above, or even a station wagon or sedan, as this Toyota C-HR can’t quite cut it as a transporter for the household, even if there are only two members, with a third on the way.

Acquired: June 2020
Distance travelled this month: 322km
Odometer: 6556km 
Average fuel consumption for July: 5.0L/100 (measured at the pump)


The Wrap

Likes

Frugal engine
Head-turning looks
Steers alright

Dislikes

Compromised rear-seat room
Elastic CVT
Some in-cabin ergonomics

Scores

Tung:

The Kids:

$37,190

Based on new car retail price

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