On paper, the Toyota C-HR is extremely underwhelming and frankly unappetizing. Halogen projectors, 17-inch wheels, 1.8-litre naturally aspirated DVVT-I with measly 140 PS & 171 Nm just doesn’t quite fit the bill of a RM 150,000 SUV.
Not only that, but the tight-ish interior also doesn’t quite appeal to the family shoppers – limited knee room and only 388 litres of boot space. If you’re claustrophobic like me, I strongly suggest to not spend too long in the back seats of the C-HR.
Safety features are also merely on par with the rivals with 7 airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. It doesn’t even have any Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to justify its asking price.
However, the reality is that people are still lusting for the C-HR. So much so that UMW Toyota Motor given the car a minor upgrade in January 2019 with improved infotainment (Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity), enhanced styling as well as a new Radiant Green Metallic (with Black roof) paint option.
To understand the appeal of the C-HR, you must first get behind the wheel of one and properly stretch its legs. Only then you can experience the superiority of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform.
Compared to its rivals, the C-HR boasts the most communicative steering wheel with an athleticism that is second to none in the segment. Its dynamism is largely attributed to the double-wishbone suspension set up at the rear, low centre of gravity and a rigid chassis structure.
The C-HR gives keen drivers the confidence to carry more speed into a bend than they would in any other car. However, the eco-oriented Dunlop Enasave EC300+ will scream in protest if you get too hot.
This not only makes the C-HR extremely fun to drive around the bends but also a very safe companion on the road. Thanks to its capable chassis, drivers – no matter their skill levels – are able to better control the car with ease, especially when performing emergency or evasive maneuverers.
Although the 2ZR-FBE 1.8-litre engine and CVT automatic is nothing to write home about, the more time you spend driving the C-HR, the more you’ll come to realise why the engineers have gone for a step-less transmission.
The seamless and uninterrupted power delivery keeps the car’s balance fairly neutral when probed for power yet coasts elegantly in rush hour traffic. Balance is the name of the game here because getting big power outputs is easy, but calibrating a powertrain that can exploit the chassis with such finesse? It’s an engineering feat.
Another strong suit of the C-HR is its trendy design with sharp edges all round and unique colour choices. It is almost guaranteed that the C-HR will stand out in a parking lot full of Honda HR-Vs.
Style is then complemented by the bulletproof reliability that Toyota is synonymous with. You no longer have to risk going with a brand with questionable reliability for a car to stand out in the crowd.
For RM 150,000, the C-HR commands a ridiculously premium price tag – even more so than the all-new Camry’s RM 196,888 asking tag. Because for the same price of a C-HR, you can easily go for an equally stylish Mazda CX-5 2.0 GLS or a significantly larger Honda CR-V 1.5 2WD.
But buyers of this segment are looking for something truly unique, something that goes beyond all forms of reasoning, something only the C-HR can offer. It appeals to the keen drivers who need an SUV, the young at heart and the ones who want to stand out.
Doesn’t matter it is RM 30,000 pricier than its rivals or how much more of a car they can get from other brands because nothing else screams “because I can” more than the Toyota C-HR.