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This rival to the Qashqai offers a small and straight petrol alongside its costlier P11D hybrid. Can the former make better sense for some fleets?
18in alloys, Toyota Safety Sense front monitoring, pre-collision and pedestrian protection system, lane-departure alert, blindspot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beam and road-sign assist, EBD and brake assist, traction, vehicle stability and hill-start assist control, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone aircon, 8in touchscreen with rear-view camera, 4.2in TFT driver display, auto wipers and lights, Bluetooth, USB and AUX, front and back parking sensors
Icon, Excel, Dynamic, Red Edition
Six-speed manual, CVT Auto
Beyond its ultra-bold exterior design - all cuts, creases and bulging lights - the Toyota C-HR brought full petrol-electric power to the compact SUV segment with its 122hp 1.8-litre hybrid. Good stuff. Trouble is, that same differentiating tech makes its sticker price pretty expensive.
So, as a fall-back position, Toyota also offers the C-HR in 115hp 1.2-litre straight petrol guise, which shaves about £3,000 off the price of the hybrid C-HR's equivalent models to better compete against non-hybrid rivals. In top-end Dynamic trim, the 1.2-litre petrol C-HR has a P11D price of £25,840 versus £28,470 for the 1.8 hybrid, which only musters a notional extra 7hp of power.
Jumping inside the C-HR, the driving position is comfy, and aircon controls are usefully physical and easy to adjust. Interior downsides include a few too many small buttons on the steering wheel and a centre touchscreen that has a whiff of '80s arcade game in its graphics and usability. As a case in point, the sat-nav left me irritated by its non-intuitive layout and layers, so much so that I had to suffer directions I no longer needed, or wanted to hear, for miles because I couldn't find the 'cancel route' button. Turning the sound down and requesting a new route surely can't be the only solution?
Moving onward and backward, rear passenger space is good, despite the rear-sloping roofline and thick, angled C-pillar that reduces the rear view. The boot is surprisingly useful, too.
Although the seats-up space is only 377 litres (the Qashqai offers 430 litres and the Honda HR-V 470), it still swallowed a washing machine-sized cardboard box during our test, under its dramatically raked glass tailgate.
Keeping it simple
To drive, the six-speed manual 1.2 is a regular piece of kit. There's no risk of whiny CVT autos or irregular revving to unsettle drivers more used to straight combustion engines and powertrains. The car even has some undercover tech to smooth out those manual changes, called Intelligent Manual Transmission. It automatically adjusts engine speed as the driver makes up and downshifts, and, if so desired, can be turned off using a switch located on the lower part of the dashboard.
Either way, the 1.2 C-HR feels no-nonsense and simple. Despite its lack of horsepower, relative to other models in the segment, it has enough zip for everyday driving, even with four on board.
Pricing up petrol
It's instructive to look at the whole-life costs as predicted by KeeResources for the 1.2 C-HR as well. 58.9 pence per mile is right on the money in comparison with petrol rivals from Honda's HR-V, which is also 58.9p to Nissan's Qashqai at 59.2p.
It's also interesting to note that the 1.2 C-HR is expected to be cheaper to service, maintain and repair than its 1.8 hybrid sister at £1,734 compared with £1,944. It is also set to lose less money in depreciation at £16,340 compared with £16,920 for the 1.8 hybrid. Only its still reasonable official fuel costs let it down against the hybrid at £7,125 as opposed to £4,631 with tax at 28 against 19% BIK. This leads to a less competitive overall residual value of 36.8% compared with 40.6% and the hybrid's better 54.7ppm cost per mile figure.
Nonetheless, if you don't fancy the driving experience of the hybrid and the sometimes hard-to-replicate mpg figures, especially over higher mileages, the still-efficient, small petrol-engined 1.2 C-HR has much to commend it. Well worth a test drive.