Toyota's all-new C-HR was an interesting pitch for me when I was asked to go and drive it. As a driver of one of the best EVs, the C-HR was a different proposition. Yes it's a hybrid no matter which configuration you might consider, but you're not reliant on charging even with the plug-in hybrid option – which will arrive in 2024 – and, for many who don't want a pure EV, it could be an ideal little car option.
Anecdotally, the more I've driven an EV throughout 2023 (the year my actual ownership commenced), the more I've noticed charging services being far busier. It's inevitable really: most car manufacturers are only releasing electric cars (or plan on that being the case very soon) – and while myself and the T3 team absolutely love EVs, the more people I speak with in wider circles the clearer it becomes that they're not for everyone. Here's why a car like the Toyota C-HR could be the perfect fit for you:
1. Striking design looks ultra-modern
My Dad owns a first-gen C-HR. That may sound like the least cool thing ever said – sorry, pa! – as the place it occupies in my mind is one that's, well, rather humdrum. It's a car for function and nothing more. But the new 2023/24 C-HR? Well, that's a different thing entirely. I mean, just look at my photos in this very article – this car looks positively futuristic in an ultra-modern, yet easy-on-the-eye way.
In the past I've found some of Toyota's designs to be almost too bold, but the all-new C-HR's design aesthetic is a great balance. It's not only the latest EVs that can have more eye-catching looks – I'm thinking of, say, the Hyundai Ioniq 5; or any new BMW based on the updated kidney grille – as the C-HR's two-tone paint job option shows. I think that gives it a real look of class and quality for a small, mid-range car.
2. Interior comforts and tech
But as anyone will tell you these days: what's the tech like? For many that's as important as the car itself. I get it, as I'm the same: I want to leave my house, plonk my phone down on a charger, and have it auto-connect so that I've got all my music and contacts and maps and whatnot right there available via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Well, you're in luck, as the C-HR has a Qi wireless charging plate and supports both wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. And if you're not into using either then no worries: there's a built-in infotainment system which occupied the 12.3-inch dash-mounted screen that's easily reachable and can be touch-controlled to do your bidding.
Sitting in the CH-R I found its seats – which are actually part-made from recyclable plastic bottles (PET) – hugging and comfortable, especially with the heated seat cranked up to a full level three. This is a comfortable, effortless cabin to sit in and drive, with a high ride height and even ample space in the back for other passengers. Good going for a small-yet-well-appointed car.
3. A plug-in is best of both worlds
I think for many people the the PHEV version of the C-HR will be the best option by a long shot (I hasten to add I've not driven it, however, as it's coming in 2024 around April time). You can get one of the best EV chargers installed at home for around £1,000 or less these days, which would top-up the car's built-in battery – said to deliver 41 miles per charge, so ideal commuting distance – at a 7kWh rate (the fastest at-home chargers offer right now) in pretty quick time given the battery's small capacity.
At the time of writing charging using your at-home electric rate is much cheaper than conventional fuel from a station. About half per my tariff's calculations. This is the sweet-spot where you can get those EV gains – such as emission-free commutes and short drives in the C-HR's EV-only mode – without the anxiety of range or having to charge when you don't have the opportunity.
And as we approach the end of 2023, with the holiday period coming up, I know many people who will be travelling longer distances to see family and friends. I'll be doing the very same, which in a pure EV is going to take some calculating (by which I mean panic charging at higher pricing). In the Toyota C-HR? That 1.8 or 2.0 engine configuration would get me the 270 miles to my brother's and back with likely a quarter tank left. Which, put like that, almost makes me want to switch...
The Toyota C-HR is available to reserve now, with delivery dates expected from December 2023. It's priced from £31,290 for the entry-level Icon model. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) will be available from around April 2024, with pricing to be detailed.