Travel Torque: The new C-HR is Toyota’s trendy triumph

2017-03-07 17:18

With local launches of new SUVs and Crossovers arriving as fast as flash floods, Travel Torque’s Melinda Ferguson bets Toyota’s new C-HR is set to rev right up to the top.

Skyscrapers, cranes and neon-dotted city skylines in the heart of business and consumerist capital, Sandton, set the backdrop for the launch of Toyota’s new funky wunderkind, the C-HR. Not since the global launch of the innovative Prius, back in 2000, has a new Toyota elicited such excitement.

And what a funky revelation, both inside and out, the new C-HR (Coupe high-riding) proved to be. Unashamedly targeted at the lucrative millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, Digital Natives, Generation Me, Generation Rent and Generation Why – because they question everything – Toyota has squarely set its sights on this market.

For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock, millennials are the social media-obsessed generation, born roughly between 1980 and 2000, the first generation to have grown up entirely immersed in the world of digital technology, who are more at home on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat than in the dull confines of IRL (in real life). And what better car to offer the work-hard, play-hard selfie-obsessed generation than a compact crossover, where style and performance meet; an urban drive that will be the perfect picture to up your cred on Instagram.

The thing is, the C-HR doesn’t just stand out in the exterior looks department with its powerful chunky stance, edgy front fog lamps, 17-inch alloys, futuristic coupe-like side design and a sweeping roofline. It’s on the road where the this upstart really comes out tops.

I got to take both the auto and manual turbo petrol versions of this modern maestro out in the big city, as well as on less manicured roads around Cullinan. Both rides are mated with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with outputs of 85kW and 185Nm. It was darn hard to choose a favourite. The manual, paired with an awesome six-speed manual with IMT (Intelligent Manual Transmission) which in plain speak – smoothes out gearshifts – was huge fun to drive. However the CVT automatic was just as impressive. Both rides felt smooth, quick, precise and made the driver feel superbly confident mainly due to a world-class chassis, which makes the C-HR an absolute wow machine when navigating bends and corners.

Knowing she’s packed with loads of safety like airbags, ABS, VSC, hill-start assist, brake hold and assist, makes the ride even sweeter.

The cabin is one of the finest to come out of Toyota’s stable. It’s packed with diamond-shaped elegant design, a stylish Nappa leather steering wheel, a soft touch dashboard, an incredibly user-friendly layout and an all new Toyota Touch 2 infotainment screen in the centre console. There’s good legroom for back passengers and plenty of space in the boot for adventurous travels.

Pricing: From R319 500

Rating: 5 stars

With the trusted reputation that’s made Toyota South Africa’s most successful car brand, my bet is that the C-HR will hurtle the manufacturer into a record breaking sales year, in an otherwise beleaguered market. It may even steal some sales from the just-launched Audi Q2 and the older BMW X1 – it’s definitely priced to leave those competitors in the dust.

The only thing Toyota might have got wrong, is this car ain’t just for millennials. Methinks a whole lot of Generation X’es and Baby Boomers are going to be jostling in a long line for the C-HR, especially in the stunning new Aztec Green and Cosmic Blue. Get ready to stand in the queue.

Melinda Ferguson
Motoring journalist
City Press
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April 22 2018