Driven - Feb 2020

Driven: 2020 Toyota CH-R facelift

The Toyota CH-R has been an attractive model and prospect for those looking for a funky crossover, with a quirky exterior and strong Toyota heritage in South Africa. The CH-R stands out for its ability to fit all this trick styling and yet be a typical Toyota in that its build to a very high standard and provides a comfortable dependable choice. Being a now midlife vehicle how does the 3-Year refresher improve its stake in the highly contested segment it exists within.

Looking back at the 2017 launch of the “Coupe High Riding”, the most considerable part of the lust the little Toyota showcases is the design, and this is even after a facelift mainly the same. Injected with an enhanced sporty fare the front bumper now hosts a bumper colour front chin-lip. The headlights are now standard with LED running lights with the fog lights shifting within the lower section of the redesigned bumper. At the rear with sharp lines that make the coupe-like rear flow better into the new back LED lights and Gloss rear spoiler.

The major update to the platform come through the safety upgrades on the Standard and Plus models. The Now six airbags come standard on the range, inclusive of front passenger knee airbags. The Spec Luxury gets the Toyota Safety Sense system, comprehensive of all your blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-crash system, radar-guided adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist needs.

Inside, the use of new higher-grade materials takes precedence, and the funky theme continues with a contoured roofliner with the Rhombus shape that can be seen throughout. The hard plastics are still there but better hidden and softer and less scratchy. The push feel remains but doesn’t make statements with class-leading contention. The seats feel redesigned and are softer and more comfortable. Understandably the rear feels dark and tight given the small rear windows the space is fair which will help with this but the small rear doors and sloping roofline do limit access and after the family car of the compactness of the vehicle.

The 4.2Inch infotainment gains CarPlay and Andriod Auto. The screen is angled towards the driver and having function buttons of the sides makes it easy to control, but the system despite allowing app access like GoogleMaps and Waze is still a bit lacking in intuitiveness. As standard, a 15GB data package (monthly top-ups are available at cost) which provides to be useful when network is limited but allows suffers from connection issues at points.

What’s improved about the drive?

The launch of the updated CH-R found journo’s in George on a 600Km small-town Grand Tour, which given the distance and amount of driving proved several critical reminders as to why this Sub-compact is such a fantastic combination of sporty, dynamic and comfortable. The facelifted model retains the 1.2Litre Turbocharged engine shared with the Corolla Hatch, producing 85kWs and 185Nm mated to a CVT transmission in the Luxury trim at test. The engine is smooth, and the power delivery is rewarding at most, given it gets the crossover moving at a rate that allows you to be confident overtaking and building speed. The most distinctive element is the power progression and mid-range pull when making your way up to freeway speeds. The large 18”-inch wheels interference very little when at speed but the roar at lower rates is noticeable. The time spent with the CH-R included some spectacular mountain passes that ushered the genuinely dynamic chassis to shine through. Steering inputs are direct and precise and the weight increases well with speed, the C-HR is very planted. When driving with a passion not familiar to a sub-compact, it responded very well and remained very comfortable when driving sedately.

CH-R’s European success is not without reason. As the Sub-Compact market gets more saturated with entrants and competitors, one should remember CH-R was one of the early cars to capture the brilliance that created this segment. Now it does this better than ever before. With the promise of a Yaris based replacement and a Gazoo Racing version of the CH-R, this is a platform at speaks leaps and bounds.

Facelifted 2020 CH-R Pricing in South Africa

Pricing kicks off at R371 100 for the entry-level model, climbing to just under R480 000 for the top trim Luxury CVT, which makes may make the Rav4 Bigger brother somewhat appealing at that point. When compared to a direct competitor Like VW’s T-Cross and Suzuki Vitra, it makes for an interesting departure with very high spec and driving dynamics.

Toyota C-HR 1.2T                              – R 371 700

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus                      – R 403 000

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus CVT              – R 415 100

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury CVT          – R 476 600