The C-HR is a compact crossover that can do big things for Toyota here, a spokesman suggests.
IT’S set to be huge but might well initially start small – mainly because of limited supply but also perhaps due to the distributor deciding to start with just one version.
That’s the C-HR, the smart-looking city-comfortable 1.2-litre turbo petrol compact sports utility that Toyota New Zealand intends to introduce around or after March, 2017, to compete with Honda’s HR-V, the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi’s ASX and the Suzuki Vitara among others.
The release of images of the baby crossover as it is to appear in this part of the world has spurred a product spokesman for the Palmerston North-based market leader to offer some comment about its marketing plan and sales aspiration.
Spencer Morris isn’t yet ready to slap a dollars and cents tag onto the car, whose local market role has been known since unveiling in production form at the Geneva motor show in March, however he has dropped a big hint about its position by emphasizing it will cost less than the brand’s top-selling RAV4, which starts at $37,990.
“Our objective is to position it below RAV4.”
As for the model’s market potential – given the rising popularity of small to medium sized crossovers, might C-HR rise to become a top-selling car?
Morris agrees it has excellent potential.
“We are delighted to be able to complement our range by the addition of C-HR because the small medium crossover segment is growing in importance and this model will fit neatly below the very popular RAV4.”
Strengths? It’s a body shape built atop Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that underpins the latest Prius and will form the basis of the next-gen Corolla.
It is the first Toyota to exhibit a diamond architectural theme with faceted gemstone-like shapes, fluid surfaces and elegantly integrated detailing. The coupe-like styling is further enhanced by disguised rear door handles integrated within the C pillar and the sweeping roofline that projects into a large, aerodynamic spoiler.
The parent talks of this five-door being aggressive; Morris says simply that the shape really “pushes the boundaries”, he says.
Also, the model sports a premium interior, he says.
“The C-HR will ideally suit private buyers and user chooser fleet drivers looking for a stylish and yet versatile vehicle that features some of Toyota’s newest technologies. We expect the C-HR to be well received.”
However, he warns, “sales will be restricted by supply and we do not expect it to outsell RAV4 initially.”
Some markets are set to have several versions – Australia, is going for two grades, a base variant that will simply be dubbed C-HR, while the higher-spec grade will be called Koba, which is a tribute to the vehicle’s global chief engineer, Hiroyuki Koba.
Morris says as NZ will take just a single version, we won’t bother with a designation. But does that mean we’re going to have the entry edition or the higher-end type? There’s no clarity about this yet, nor about the transmission – though we’d suggest the continuous variable type will be chosen over the alternate six-speed manual – or it we’ll go four- or simply front-wheel-drive.
Either way, C-HR will be fitted with advanced safety features such as a pre-collision system with autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure alert with steering control, auto high beam headlights and a reversing camera.
The Koba specification adds comfort features such as heated seats, keyless entry and start, privacy glass and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Other interior features include a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a two-tiered front seat design, diamond-shaped switches that evoke the exterior styling, a theme that is also evident in the door trim panel, headliner and the analogue instrument dial needles.
Switchgear in the cabin is angled slightly towards the driver, according to Toyota, while an asymmetrical centre console design means controls are within relatively easy reach.
This is part of what the car-maker calls its ‘sensual touch’ interior design concept that combines “high-tech functionality with a sensual and fashionable style”.
Further flourishes in the cabin that could appeal to younger buyers include the use of clear blue illumination for the instruments and switches as well as satin silver and piano black trim.
Ironically, the C-HR might find success with the same people who fell for the original RAV4, which started out in the same category this new model now frequents, then jumped up into the next size range when it grew bigger.