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Toyota C-HR engines, driving and performance

How does the Toyota C-HR drive?

You might not expect a hybrid Toyota SUV to hold much appeal for keen drivers, which means you might be in for a surprise once you drive the C-HR. It feels agile and sporty in a way that very few SUVs can match, with well-controlled body roll and a keen turn in. There’s lots of grip available and a reassuring sense of solidity when driving at higher speeds.

Drivers looking for a properly thrilling experience will still probably be better off with a model with more power or something with more focused handling, but the C-HR is an entertaining car to drive day-to-day without so much of a hard edge that it becomes tiring.

Is the Toyota C-HR comfortable?

With its tyres firmly parked at the sporty end of the spectrum, the C-HR isn’t the most comfortable choice in the class. You can feel road imperfections clearly through the base of your seat and hear big suspension impacts. Entry-level Icon models with the smallest alloy wheels tune some of the ride’s roughness out, but trims with larger wheels will jiggle passengers about a little over bad road surfaces.

The engines are, at least, fairly quiet in normal use. The 1.2-litre turbo petrol gives off a dull thrum when accelerating but stays mostly hushed, while the hybrids are whisper quiet when sneaking through traffic on battery power alone. Flooring either of the hybrid models will cause the engine revs to flare up and make quite a drone, but the hybrid’s responsive electric motor makes this a rare occurrence.

What’s the best Toyota C-HR engine to get?

The most affordable way into C-HR ownership is to select one of the 1.2-litre turbo petrol models. These are available for a few thousand pounds less than hybrid models on the nearly new market and still offer respectable performance and efficiency. Plus, these versions ride ever-so-slightly better thanks to omitting the hybrid’s heavy battery pack.

Despite these qualities, we still prefer the C-HR’s hybrid engine choices. For one, all hybrid models are automatic only, making them a doddle to drive around town. Plus, the snappy response from the electric motor means these versions feel nippy off the line when driving around town. They’re noticeably more economical than the non-hybrid petrol engine, too.

The 1.8-litre hybrid has more than enough grunt to propel you to motorway speeds without fuss, so should be enough for most buyers. That said, we do appreciate the extra muscle of the 2.0-litre setup, especially when accelerating off the line, so we’d spend the extra for this version if our budget could handle it.

Toyota C-HR performance

There aren’t any real performance options in the C-HR’s engine lineup, with Toyota’s efficient hybrid engines taking centre stage instead. These are far removed from the wheezy, elastic-feeling hybrids of the olden days, however. Toyota’s worked hard to make sure both the 1.8 and 2.0-litre hybrid engines feel punchy off the line and remain smooth all the way up to motorway speeds.

Like most cars that use a CVT-type automatic gearbox, however, hybrid C-HR models make a bit of a drone when you use full throttle. That’s why we’re fans of the larger 2.0-litre hybrid setup, which features both a more powerful engine and a beefier electric motor, allowing for better acceleration without needing to send the engine revs flaring.

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