Ian Lamming has been salivating ever since he saw the first pictures of Toyota’s brand new C-HR, but is it better than his old one?
Ian Lamming has been salivating ever since he saw the first pictures of Toyota’s brand new C-HR, but is it better than his old one?

IT WAS never going to be an easy task replacing the superb Toyota C-HR

It was launched to the world at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and reached our roads in 2017.

The original C-HR was so good in fact that I bought not just one but two and have been behind the wheel of this curvaceous hybrid for the past five years in total with no other SUV in the sector coming close.

Nothing matches the blend of drivability and stupendous economy which I need – I’ve done 42,000 in two years in the current model which equates to quite a bit of fuel, but a third less than I would have had to buy in my old Fiat Abarth.

Even when I’ve been driving something exotic, like a Porsche or a McLaren, the C-HR feels great straight after, not rubbish as you might expect.

That’s because its steering is sharp, road holding impressive and that 1.8 litre hybrid motor is staggeringly smooth, quiet and economical. So even 80,000 miles down the road I’m still not tired of this exemplary Toyota.

As soon as the new C-HR hit the showrooms I’m there poring over the paintwork, investigating the interior and loving what I see so much that I head straight for the salesman.

The sporty GR Sport, with its pearlescent white paint, black roof and plush interior, looks marvellous under the spotlights, the mid-spec Design on the forecourt on a drab day not so striking inside or out.

Test car comes in Design spec (which would be the like-for-like replacement for mine) but looks so much better, like the GR Sport, thanks to the same livery which transforms the aesthetic.

The interior seems a bit plainer than mine, which has the piano black shiny trim, but I like the new virtual clocks and larger touchscreen infotainment screen. I couldn’t find the milometer or trip A and B but everything else is easy and intuitive to use and the real plus point over mine is the electrically operated tailgate. Mine is quite heavy to open and shut and gets your hands filthy in the winter so the electric is a godsend especially as you can raise and lower it on the key plip.

The new look is spectacular but because it is so radically different compared to mine it actually looks like a completely different model and the old C-HR can keep its head held high, which should help residuals.

It is much more angular but the proportions are spot on and the tail end is fantastic with its full width red LED lights and ‘C-HR’ moniker which illuminates when you hit the brakes.

Door handles are flush and pop out when you unlock it with the plip or if you touch them when the remote key is on your person. Delightful alloy wheels are 18in and fill the boldly shaped wheelarches. It is a gorgeous looking car from all angles, helped by the lack of clutter at the back – there’s no rear windscreen washer/wiper – shock horror!

The C-HR Design is the same set up as mine in that it has a 1.8 litre engine and a self-charging electric motor. It is up on power – to 140bhp from 128bhp– and it does feel a bit nippier, but that extra performance comes at the slight expense of economy and I seem to lose perhaps 5mpg overall – though it is still impressive at 55+mpg.

Cabin ambience, ride, handling, grip, braking and steering are every bit as good as the previous model but not noticeably better. It remains incredibly smooth and quiet whether you are in town, mainly using EV, or on the motorway pressing on. It is happy on the twisty stuff too.

So here’s the dilemma. New C-HR is fabulous, particularly the looks, but the old one remains a tremendous car and not really inferior in any way. So, ultimately, for me, it will come down to money and I’ve still got a bit of time left to run on the old car to get a decent PCP price on the new. That said, I’ve definitely got this stunning Toyota in my sights.

Fact file

Toyota C-HR Design

Engine: 1.8 petrol plus electric

Power: 140bhp

0-62mph: 10.2secs

Top speed: 106mph

Combined: 60MPG

Transmission: e-CVT

CO2 g/km: 105

Price: £34,685