THE latest addition to the Toyota C-HR range wears the Gazoo Racing GR Sport badge, yet is equipped with hybrid power. Released in November last year, it strives to fill a niche of spiced up variants, in a similar way to the Hyundai N-Line models, among others.
The GR Sport Hybrid is differentiated from other C-HR models through a host of sporty styling cues and badging. It’s an appealing look, thanks to its slightly lowered stance.
We picked up our test vehicle on a very wet Sydney morning and headed down south, where we encountered intense rain and very low level fog, making driving difficult at best.
Although propelled through the front wheels, the C-HR oozed stability and confidence in the poor conditions. The fog lamps and auto wipers sweeping away sheets of rain made the journey tolerable.
The first Australian GR Sport model release is based on the entry level GXL C-HR SUV, and is available only with Toyota’s smooth hybrid system. It’s less about performance and more about style. It’s finish is quality.
A GR badge is fixed to each front seat, the start button is GR identified and the roof lining scalloped overhead. Sports pedals complete the interior finish but the steering wheel is range-standard C-HR.
Sporting (pun intended) a unique grille and front bumper, it stands out from other C-HR models. Painted in Feverish Red with a black roof, the GR Sport is complemented by the black body trims and skirts, and looks smart.
Fog lights on the GR Sport are situated at the bottom of the bumper housing below a chrome grille cross bar. White GR logoed brake callipers all round are visible through the exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels for further model separation.
LED lamps at each end and privacy glass add to the slick finish. The GR Sport Hybrid has comfortable sports seats with black leather accents and perforated suede. White contrast panels and stitching invoke comfort with style.
Both seats are equipped with seat back pockets for rear passenger convenience. Six speaker audio supplies the sound and dual zone climate control keeps the occupants toasty warm on our stormy drive.
The handy economy readout in the left side dash gauge shows real time recharge status for those that like to know such things. Additional driver information displays in the central multifunction screen between circular gauges.
Two front cup holders, one each ahead and behind the gearshift are situated in the centre console. Front and rear door bottle holders are nestled below the GR Sport patterned door trims.
After depositing our flippers into the 318-litre cargo area we noted the nifty tailgate pull cup with formed finger hook shape. It offers a more secure way to pull down the tailgate with confidence.
The GR Sport is powered by a 1.8-litre hybrid with a total system output of 90kW, which makes it an unlikely sports car. It worked hard up the big hills with enough engine noise to prove it.
That said, we feel the target demographic will most times be comfortable with the car’s capabilities. The e-CVT transmission has been developed for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles and is practical and seamless in operation.
This is a polished hybrid system that is smooth and calibrated to switch between electric and ICE (engine) propulsion without pain. Disappointingly, only one front USB-A port is provided and there is no wireless phone charging or even really phone parking space.
A 12-volt console box outlet at least can be used while containing the handset. As is almost expected, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with satellite navigation, on an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
Lane trace assist is much more subtle than anticipated, and radar cruise is very smooth. Taking a speed bump just a little fast is not so good though, with the stiffer sport suspension making that very clear.
The GR Sport has a choice of eight colours, including three two tone (black roof) combinations. Graphite and Ink are only available as single colours with Crystal Pearl, Feverish Red and Hornet Yellow as two tone options.
Toyota’s first offering from the Gazoo Racing GR Sport nameplate is covered by a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with conditional extensions, including the hybrid battery. Capped price servicing applies for up to five years.
The comprehensive Toyota Safety Suite provides forward collision warning, a reverse camera, and active cruise control with lane trace assist (as we mentioned earlier). There are seven airbags and lots of other safety kit.
Our 2021 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Hybrid test vehicle is priced at $43,002 drive away, including two-tone paintwork. It is the vehicle for those looking for Toyota quality, with a little sport cachet to stand apart from a regular C-HR.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Toyota C-HR GR Sport, contact your local Toyota dealer.