Toyota C-HR GR Sport road test

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By Chris Riley, Motoring Brand

Some people hate the dramatic looks of the Toyota C-HR. Personally, I really like the design and have been doing it since day one. So I was slightly excited to learn that there was now a GR version, the C-HR GR Sport, inspired by Toyota’s performance-oriented GR models.

The key word, however, is “inspired” – because there’s no more power available and that’s disappointing (you might feel differently).

STYLING

The GR Sport features a more aggressive front bumper and grille, with an aerodynamic lip, bold lower grille, thick horizontal bar and revised fog lamp surrounds lower than the standard model.

Sporty elements include larger 19-inch dark alloys with 225/45 series rubber, high-grade LED lighting front and rear, piano black finish for the rear spoiler, and mirror caps and door trim.

White brake calipers with GR logos on the front and GR emblems on the front, sides and rear complete the look.

A streamlined range now has three models, with a choice of two transmissions and front or all-wheel drive.

The hybrid has the same configuration as in the Prius, Corolla, Corolla Cross and Lexus CT hatchbacks.

Choose the 1.2-litre turbo engine and you’ll have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Go hybrid, and it’s front-wheel drive only.

The front-drive hybrid GXL, GR Sport, is only available as a front-drive-only hybrid. Although the GR Sport sits at the top of the tree, it doesn’t get everything.

Standard kit includes sat nav, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise, smart keyless entry and star, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic LED headlights and wipers, parking brake electronics and a 4.2-inch color display for the driver.

It builds on electric driver lumbar adjustment, heated front seats and Nanoe climate control technology – all standard with Koba. The latter is designed to send moisture-rich ions into the cabin to reduce odours, pollen and other allergens. It also reduces the dryness associated with standard air conditioning systems.

GR Sport is available in five colors, with the $450 option of a black roof with Crystal Pearl, Hornet Yellow or Feverish Red.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen faces a six-speaker audio system, with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, voice recognition, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but no DAB+.

MOTORS / TRANSMISSIONS

The powertrain consists of a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, with 72 kW and 142 Nm, combined with an electric motor that puts out 53 kW and 163 Nm.

With a combined output of 90kW, no mention of torque and an undisclosed curb weight, performance is average at best.

The CVT doesn’t provide “steps” or simulated gears like it does in gasoline models, with drive and reverse plus B settings for engine braking.

SECURITY

A comprehensive five-star safety package includes seven airbags, a rear-view camera and forward collision warning, brake assist and autonomous emergency braking.

There’s also Lane Keeping Assist, Auto High Beams, All-Speed ​​Active Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, along with Blind Spot Monitor, Cross-Traffic Recognition road signs and rear cross traffic alert.

The latter lacks automatic braking and there’s no overhead parking monitor either – both of which come with Koba.

CONDUCT

A GR Supra or a GR Yaris this is not the case. GR Sport is clearly more about show than start.

It rolls on bigger, flashier 19-inch alloys, with 225/45R19 Yokohamas and 15mm lower sports suspension and sits 12mm lower to the ground.

Shocks, springs and stabilizer bars have all been modified to reduce pitch and roll, in the name of better handling.

A new center brace has also been added to reinforce body rigidity and contributes to a more direct steering response.

There’s talk of GR brakes, but aside from the white calipers, no other information is offered, suggesting they’re otherwise standard.

The sporty makeover continues inside with form-fitting black leatherette sports seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There are also dark silver highlights around the dash and door trim, piano black surrounds for the center console and power window switches, and a GR-branded start button.

A diamond pattern is repeated throughout the cabin, visible on the headliner, overhead switches and interior lighting.

The dashboard features a pair of traditional analogue dials that flank a central information panel and while they’re clear and easy to read, they lack the digital pyrotechnics of competitors.

Satnav fires quickly and is easy to use, except for the predictive text, but has the annoying habit of taking over the central information panel where the numerical speed is normally displayed. Canceling a destination is also difficult.

With tall rear pillars and a sloping roofline, the design leads to a rear seat that is claustrophobic, offers limited legroom and lacks passenger air outlets.

The hidden rear door handles are also difficult to use from certain angles.

A small trunk space hides a space-saving spare.

Overall, however, the car looks amazing with its shiny paintwork.

It would all be great if it just had more power to go with the more determined looks – more chutzpah to get through corners, requiring better handling and better stopping power.

But the thing is, that’s not the case, so handling improvements are somewhat superfluous.

Plus, the type of person who buys this car is unlikely to be from the racing boy fraternity and hardly about pushing the limits.

For the most part, the CVT tranny behaves itself, hiding the zoom that typically marks CVTs.

The ride and handling are excellent, but the steering is rubbery and the driving experience is far from engaging.

We have a long, steep hill near our patch of forest that tends to sort the wheat from the chaff. You need momentum and that wasn’t kind to the C-HR. All of a sudden, under hard acceleration, it got quite harsh and noisy and the CVT kicked into overdrive, sounding like a lawnmower about to run out of gas.

On a more positive note, fuel consumption is rated at a meager 4.3 L/100 km. We were only using 4.7 after more than 600 km at the wheel.

ABSTRACT

I still want to like this car, but let’s cut to the chase. There’s not much GRness, nothing to get excited about – definitely no extra power. Frankly, I think for $37,165 the Koba 1.2-liter turbo AWD offers a sportier package and you can spend the saved $500 on two-tone paint. Trust me, you won’t miss the sport suspension.

But beware, with over 60 accessories available to enhance your purchase, you might end up spending more than you expected.

Come on Toyota, let’s have a real GR C-HR!

IN ONE LOOK

MODEL RANGE

Toyota C-HR GXL 1.2-liter turbo, front-wheel drive, from $30,915

Toyota C-HR Koba 1.8-liter hybrid, all-wheel-drive, from $35,165

Toyota C-HR GR Sport, 1.8-liter hybrid, front-wheel drive, from $37,665

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges.

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