THE small SUV market continues to be bombarded with new models left, right and centre from pretty much every manufacturer, with Toyota in the thick of it with the 2020 C-HR Koba and Koba Hybrid.
In this case, we’re testing the 2WD version of both variants, with the latest rendition of the vehicle the Japanese car maker describes as having the height of an SUV, the dynamics of a car, and radical design of a sports car having been spiced up a little more.
Two engine options are available, with either a 1.2-litre turbo petrol motor, producing 85kW and 185Nm (available in 2WD and AWD), or a new 1.8-litre petrol hybrid, that powers the front wheels only.
It develops 90kW from the combined sources of power. The Koba variant sits atop the range, with the simply named CH-R below it (in 2021, the base model will be known as the GX). All variants carry automatic transmissions.
The C-HR is unconventional, with its edgy looks, huge swooping headlights, large flared wheel arches and rear pillars. It also boasts a coupe-like roofline and integrated rear spoiler, and overall, there’s a bit going on.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but we like it. It’s refreshing, youthful and funky. Very Japanese. The interior is far less ‘out there’ though, and is practical and easy to navigate. There’s plenty of room up front too, with decent head clearance and leg room.
In the rear, legroom is good for a small SUV, but we dislike the small windows that block your view to the outside world. They almost make you feel like your sitting inside of Darth Vader’s helmet. This is also a problem for blind spot checking.
The seats are comfortable and supportive throughout, but power adjustment is missing in the front, despite being the flagship model. Interior materials feel good though, and the plastics are high quality.
There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system planted solidly into the dash, with Bluetooth connectivity, the recent addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic.
The infotainment screen is easy to navigate but could do with a bit of un update, as it is starting to look dated. The steering wheel buttons are also slanted in such a way that it is easy to bump the wrong button when driving.
If boot space is important to you, or you plan on using your C-HR for large, loaded camping trips, the boot offers just 318 litres, so don’t expect to fit your new fridge or lots of gear, cause chances are it won’t fit.
You will however, easily manage your weekly shopping run. If you want more space you might have to drop the rear seats, just make sure the kids aren’t with you.
We wouldn’t call the C-HR a family car, it’s specifically suited to a single person or young couple whose weekly driving takes place predominantly in the city and suburbs.
All C-HR models inherit a generous list of safety tech and features as standard though, and you get a pre-collision safety system (with day and night pedestrian detection), all-speed active cruise control, and lane departure alert with steering assist.
There’s also auto high beam and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. But don’t think it stops there. You also grab front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, and dual-zone climate control.
Leather-accented upholstery with heated front seats and power adjustable lumbar support for the driver also feature, as does a panoramic-view parking camera, and a proximity sensor for keyless locking/unlocking.
Disappointingly, there is no option for a wireless phone charging pad, road sign recognition, rear air vents, or rear collision mitigation.
Behind the wheel, it’s an interesting experience, particularly in the Hybrid, where you might find it hard to know whether you’ve turned the car off. It’s eerily quiet in EV mode and at low speeds.
Take the C-HR anywhere near a 100km/h plus speed zone though and the wind noise coming through the cabin is almost deafening. We believe the culprits are the large wing mirrors, and those curvy lines at the front.
On the plus side, the electronic parking brake turns itself on and off automatically, meaning you’re ready to go almost immediately after you hit the push-button start. A good squirt of the go go pedal and the petrol engine roars to life.
Both variants come with a CVT transmission, which is often a downside to any car fitted with one, but the C-HR drive quite fine, even with a little neck ringing at full throttle. The Koba’s suspension takes our ‘wonderful’ NSW roads with ease too.
It remains poised and composed through the twisty stuff, and while yes, it’s no sports car, it does handle quite well. On long drives, it’s comfortable, but is a little claustrophobic in the back because of those Darth Vader helmet windows.
Reverse parking is a cinch thanks to multi-angle cameras and the C-HR’s very responsive steering. Reversing out of a driveway with limited visibility is also a breeze, with the car’s rear cross-traffic alert system warning you of any approaching hazards.
We weren’t in love with C-HR when we first saw it, but we’ve really warmed to it. The hybrid element, plus the safety and tech offerings, makes the price well worth it, although the interior space and unique aesthetics may rule out some potential buyers.
All in all, it’s a comprehensive small SUV with a ton of X-factor. Prices start from $30,290 (plus on-roads) for the base and rise to $37,190 (plus on-road costs) for the Koba Hybrid. Toyota has a GR Sport variant from the lads at Gazoo Racing as well.
The 2020 Toyota C-HR Koba and Koba Hybrid are available draped in Hornet Yellow, Ink, Crystal Pearl, Shadow Platinum, Graphite, Inferno Orange, Nebula Blue, Feverish Red or Oxide Bronze. There’s also two roof colours to mix and match with.
Our test vehicles were provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Toyota C-HR Koba or Koba Hybrid, please contact your local Toyota dealer.