Students of the arts believe that the world’s best actors are to be found at the Oscar ceremonies. They are, of course, wrong. Some of the best actors on the planet can be found on soccer fields.
Whenever a soccer player gets breathed upon or nudged, he falls down and produces a heart-wrenching, brilliant rendition of the death scene in Romeo and Juliet. Also, the politicians in SA’s parliament address one another as “the honourable” while maintaining straight faces.
And, our great president reads entire speeches while pretending to understand even the long words. Brilliant actors, all. Which brings us to the all-new Toyota C-HR. This crossover vehicle, aimed at image conscious young urbanites, is a superb actor. For one thing, it is improbably attractive.
Toyota say the vehicle’s “combination of faceted gemstone-like shapes with fluid surfaces and elegantly integrated detailing create a delicate balance of precision and sensuality”. We do not understand much of that, but we do think it is an extremely pretty car.
Look at the photographs, and you should see what we mean. The C-HR is a hatchback, which successfully acts like a sports utility vehicle, sitting on 17–inch alloy wheels, shod with 215-60R-17 rubber. It comes powered by a turbocharged, four-cylinder 1 197cc petrol engine with direct injection, which delivers 85kW of power at 5 600 rpm and a constant torque curve of 185Nm between 1 500rpm and 4 000rpm.
The grunt and twist goes to the front wheels via a choice of six-speed manual or continuous variable transmission. The latter basically ensures that the vehicle is always in the correct gear for the tasks demanded of it.
We tested both variants and can, frankly, not make up our mind about a preference.
The engine is an absolute gem – it pulls strongly throughout the rev range and delivers the kind of performance one would generally associate with a normally aspirated 2.0-litre. The C-HR accelerates briskly, will happily cruise at the legal limit with 2 100rpm on the clock, and has a claimed top whack of over 190km/h.
So, it successfully acts like a sprightly hatchback. The funky styling concept carries through to the interior. The C-HR is equipped with a host of comfort and convenience features. The two front bucket seats are extremely comfortable, while the vehicle will seat two large and two small adults. All operating switchgear and a display audio touch-screen are slightly angled towards the driver.
The touch-screen’s multi-information display is operated via a four-way direction switch on the leather clad steering wheel, as are the audio system controls. Both test vehicles boasted an electric parking brake which operates intuitively, automatically engaging and disengaging in correspondence with gear and key positions. A handy hill assist control function is included, with a dedicated hold button providing an extended ‘holding period’.
Add a dual-zone electronic climate control with Eco mode, cruise control, a manual air-conditioner system, one-touch automatic power windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, two cup holders in the centre console, a storage shelf for mobile devices plus a 12- volt power outlet, and the CH-R acts like a luxury version of the range.
Both the headlamps and wipers are equipped with an auto-on function while an auto-dimming rear view mirror ensures unaltered night time vision.
The audio system allows occupants to play a variety of media types through the vehicle’s sound system, including USB, iPod, iPhone, Bluetooth and CD/DVD interfaces. All C-HR models come equipped with safety features like ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Vehicle Stability Control systems.
Should you still manage to crash, driver and passenger airbags round out the safety specification. We loved driving the C-HR. Both models were nippy, handled tautly, steered precisely, braked extremely efficiently and turned heads in parking areas throughout the city.
We made no efforts to drive frugally, but managed an average fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100km with the manual version, and 7.4 litres per 100km with the continuous variable transmission car.
The Toyota C-HR 1.2T 6MT Plus costs R345 000, while the C-HR 1.2T CVT Plus version will set you back R356 000.
All C-HR models come standard with a comprehensive five year / 90 000km service plan, with service intervals set at 15 000km. A three year/100 000km warranty is provided.