After months with no new car launches in Cyprus, suddenly – rather like London buses – three arrive at almost the same time!
The first was Toyota’s all-new C-HR (Coupe High-Rider) which the Japanese car giant says “represents Akio Toyoda’s determination to allow greater stylistic freedom and promote engineering creativity in order to achieve eye-catching designs and enhanced driving pleasure”.
It builds on the concept cars that attracted a lot of attention in Paris in 2014 and in Frankfurt in 2015, and aims to establish ‘a new direction amongst mid-sized crossovers’.
Featuring TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) the C-HR introduces a distinctive styling that combines a coupe-like upper body with the powerful underpinnings of an SUV.
The wheel arches project prominently at all four corners, emphasising strength and rigidity, and the raised ground clearance is married to the slim cabin profile of a coupe, which is enhanced by disguised rear door handles integrated within the C pillar.
The looks may not appeal to everyone – one friend commented “it looks grumpy” – but I think the aim is to show a purposeful stance, and over the time I had the test car I came to rather like it.
Pop the key fob in your pocket or handbag and you don’t need to use it again: the door will open as you pull the handle and you settle into a very well-appointed cabin, with an 8-inch display audio touch-screen that brings all controls within easy reach of the driver, whilst still allowing front passenger access to the relevant switchgear. The driver’s seat has a wonderful lumbar support, which you can adjust at the push of a button on the seat side.
There are so many features that will, before too long, be seen in most cars that I began to think we might soon need to learn to drive again! Admittedly, many can be deactivated – but then, what’s the point of having them if you switch them off?
Toyota Safety Sense is standard across the range. The system includes a Pre-Collision System (including Pedestrian Recognition), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with steering control, Automatic High Beam and Road Sign Assist.
At speed ranges of between 10 km/h and the vehicle’s top speed this system uses a front-mounted camera and millimetre-wave radar sensor to detect vehicles and pedestrians on the road ahead. If it calculates a risk of a collision, it automatically warns the driver with a buzzer and alert in the multi-information display that says “BRAKE!”.
At the same time the Pre-Collision Brake Assist engages to provide extra braking force the moment the brake pedal is pressed. If the system determines that the possibility of a frontal collision with a vehicle or pedestrian is extremely high, the brakes are automatically applied to help avoid the collision or help reduce the impact of the collision.
The Toyota C-HR’s Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Speed Range Following Function makes use of the same millimetre-wave radar as the Pre-Collision Safety system to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, slowing the car to a standstill if necessary and accelerating smoothly back to the pre-selected cruising speed once the way is clear.
Lane Departure Alert uses the camera on the windscreen to track the vehicle’s course between lane markings painted on the road surface. If it judges that the car is about to move out of its lane without the indicator being used, the system sounds a buzzer and lights up a warning on the multi-information display. If the vehicle is still moving outside the lane, it will apply light steering force to assist the driver to bring the vehicle back on course.
This was the one feature that I found annoying – although to be fair I did have to remember NOT to indicate when changing lanes in order to test this feature, so in normal driving it would not be irritating for me, and bearing in mind the propensity for drivers in Cyprus not to use their indicators it is probably a good idea (unless they deactivate it!)
Automatic High Beam uses the same windscreen-mounted camera as the Lane Departure Alert. This recognises the lights of oncoming vehicles or traffic ahead, automatically switching the headlights to low beam to avoid dazzling other road users and returning them to high beam as soon as the road is clear, maximizing night-time illumination and the driver’s field of vision.
Road Sign Assist uses the front camera to recognise principal highway/motorway warning and command signs. These are then repeated on the multi-information display, reducing the risk of the driver not being aware of speed limits, lane closures and other important information. Useful if you missed a speed limit sign, as it displays on the dash until another sign is passed and recorded.
My test car also had a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The Blind Spot Monitor uses radar sensors mounted on the rear corners of the vehicle to detect nearby vehicles in adjacent lanes as they move into the driver’s blind spot. The driver is alerted to their presence by LED warning indicators in the door mirror on the appropriate side of the car. The LED indicators will remain illuminated as long as the vehicle remains in the blind spot. If the driver operates the turn indicators, intending to move into path of the vehicle, the LEDs will flash rapidly to draw further attention to the hazard.
The same radars are used to provide the Rear Cross Traffic Alert, monitoring approaching traffic from either side as the vehicle is reversed out of a parking space and warning the driver if any vehicles are detected.
The hardest part of the test was parking: I still don’t feel comfortable reversing into a parking space while looking at the screen on the console instead of looking over my shoulder. That said, the rear camera gives you a very accurate view and I parked with precision!
Top spec versions also have the new Simple Intelligent Parking Assist (S-IPA) system that uses an array of sensors to identify viable parking spaces and surrounding objects. The driver stops the car next to the parking space and pushes a single button to engage S-IPA, which guides the car to the correct position for reverse manoeuvering into the space.
There’s a choice of a 1.2 turbo petrol engine or – like my hybrid test car – a 1.8-litre VVT-i Atkinson cycle petrol engine that generates 86 g/km CO2 emissions and returns combined fuel consumption of 3.6 l/100 km. The engine’s maximum output of 98 DIN hp/72kW is delivered at 5,200rpm, with peak torque of 142Nm at 3,600rpm.
Toyota has developed a heat recovery system that uses spent exhaust gas to speed the warming up of engine coolant. This means fuel can be saved because the hybrid system is able to stop the engine earlier and more often when it isn’t needed to power the vehicle.
Updates to the hybrid system software mean the C-HR can draw more on its electric drivetrain, allowing it to accelerate in a low engine rev range. It also increases the range in which the electric motor can be used exclusively by 60 per cent (compared to the third generation Prius). This means there is less dependency on the petrol engine at higher speeds, which improves fuel economy.
Handling was excellent and the feedback good; the commanding driving position makes for excellent visibility and whether you are starting off silently in electric mode or thrashing round bends at full throttle the car behaves impeccably – and if you want a bit of fun you can switch off the traction control and electronic stability.
When you exit the vehicle, you simply touch the door handle and the car locks and the mirrors swing in to parking mode.
The 1.2 litre turbo engine, which debuted in the Auris, delivers 85 kW/116 DIN hp and 185 Nm of torque, and returns combined fuel consumption from 5.5 l/100 km. It can be mated to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a Continuously Variable Transmission. CVT equipped versions are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.
Prices start at €19,900 for the entry level 1.2, up to €26,400 for the C-HIC spec hybrid.