Driving along a winding rural lane, the C-HR hugged us in its seats and let us roll with the road as it manoeuvred smoothly around the curves of the deliberate country test drive route we’d chosen. Retired professional, Mr Atwill, clearly knows his motors and was on the hunt for a new SUV crossover with some character. “I’ve got a Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo now and I want to change to something unlike what I’ve got,” explained John as we glided round corners. “I used to have a Rav4 and it was a great car! Because the C-HR was a Toyota I thought I’d have a look,” he expressed.
Foot gently on the throttle, we picked up speed as the C-HR headed to the dual carriageway and the new 1.2 Turbo engine responded in kind. Thrusting its CVT gearbox into shape we picked up pace quickly and made it back to the showroom in no time at all. Mr Atwill had come in on the day of delivery of our first showroom car and was down at Jemca Reading quicker than you can say C-HR. Ditching the usual salesperson pitch I simply asked John, following his test drive, if he’d like one. There was no negotiating, decision-making, sleeping on it to be done. He simply said, “yes, I love it”, and picked out a nebula blue top of the range Dynamic to go with his 1.2 turbo auto AWD spec of choice. Later, we spoke to John about the brand, build and buy of his new Toyota…
Why the C-HR? “I first saw and read about it in Auto Car magazine, I liked the look of it and was searching for an SUV with a bit of a difference to the boxy look that most of them have. Initially, I liked the picture of it.”
What were your reactions when you saw it first-hand? “Toyota’s have always had a bad review in some respects as they’ve always been called reliable but dull and I think this car is far from dull. I really liked the style when I first saw it in the flesh and thought it was quite striking. To sit in, I thought it was very comfortable and I immediately knew I wanted a test drive.”
Performance-wise, did the car exceed or meet your expectations? “I thought it handled brilliantly, it quite honestly was one of the nicest cars I’d ever driven. I was surprised at that. And that’s what impressed me the most – the C-HR went over pot holes and held the road better than most cars do.”
What did you think about the new 1.2 Turbo engine? “I picked the 1.2 Turbo because I wanted something with a little bit of oomph in it. I’ve had my days of having high-powered cars and I’m not a boy racer, but I still wanted something with some power and it undoubtedly did perform.”
Were there any specific features you were particularly enticed by? “I liked the dashboard layout and the way it was finished with the diamond effect on the doors. I think Toyota have gone to an awful lot of effort to improve the interior and in my opinion they’ve achieved it with the C-HR
Equally, was there anything you expected to be different or improved upon? “I don’t think there are any downsides to it at face value, you can always find something that you don’t like and all these reviews seem to have an obsession with boot space, but as long as you have enough for what you want it for, I don’t see the fixation on having a massive boot space and I think the C-HR’s is big enough.”
Why did you choose the C-HR over other motors in this segment? Did you consider the hybrid option? “I had a look at the Seat Ateca but they don’t do an auto in the petrol, they only offer diesel. I didn’t want a diesel as I think big diesel engines are on their way out. I think it’s just going to be petrol and hybrids in the future.
“I personally didn’t choose the hybrid option but I think the alternative fuel preference will appeal to a lot of people looking for an SUV who have perhaps had diesel cars before because I predict that’s the way it’s going to go. With Dieselgate I can’t see diesels surviving the passage of time.”
What customer range do you see this car attracting? “I think the C-HR is going to attract a lot of baby boomers but I’d also encourage people in my shoes who are retired and still looking for a fun drive to give it a go too and see how it handles – I think they’ll buy one. I’ve always been a bit of an extrovert, I’m not one for just plain, boring silver cars, I like something that stands out a bit and the C-HR definitely does that – it suits my personality!”