Toyota CH-R Review

Why can’t I find the hover mode button?

By Shahzad Sheikh

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I figured the IMT button must be it. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t what? Well I figured IMT would stand for In-flight Mode of Transportation! I expected pressing it to engage the hover jets and that the wheels would tuck in underneath as it lifted off. In fact IMT did something else. It actually stands for Intelligent Manual Transmission and it basically rev-matches the gear changes – so if for example you change down from speed it’ll blip the throttle to hook up with a lower ratio more effectively.

Toyota CH-R

Now that’s pretty flipping clever, and only a few cars do that. Cars like the Nissan 370Z and the Chevrolet Corvette. And yet here this little 1.2-litre Turbo four-cylinder family crossover with front-wheel drive also does it for its deliciously sweet 6-speed manual transmission.

Toyota CH-R

What it didn’t do though, was make it fly. Now, why the heck would I expect this thing to fly? Well just look it. No really look at it closely – it’s not a car we’re familiar with in our market because it’s not actually sold here. So this is not a Toyota shape you’d be familiar with.

Toyota CH-R

I grabbed the opportunity to try it out on a recent trip to the UK – it is sold in Europe as this 1.2 or a 1.8 Hybrid with AWD (which is probably the one I’d get) and in America with a 2.0 motor. And you might question that of all the cool cars that I could try to borrow whilst in a market that caters to a much broader spectrum of car buyers than ours, why would I choose this?

Toyota CH-R

Because I just fell in love with the looks the first time I saw one on the road. It looks like it’s popped out of a sci-fi movie. And whilst it’s small, it packs presence like Rocket Raccoon except without the firepower… and the bad attitude… and the fur.

Toyota CH-R

And it’s like too halves of different cars somehow harmoniously melded together. The top appears to be from a coupe, the lower half wants to romp across the rough terrain of an alien planet. It feels tough and eager, just as the top feels sleek and fast. The lines and shapes are fascinating, the outrageous wing is crazy and the rear door-handles are very Tron-like. Parts of this car would be at home on a Lamborghini.

Toyota CH-R

Admittedly practicality is more like a hatchback than an SUV, and performance is adequate – although plenty for London, and enough to give the Traction Control something to do. More impressive is the decent ride and the eager handling.

Toyota CH-R

In fact – particularly in this manual guise, this is actually a surprisingly satisfying and enjoyable car to peddle around. It’s also very easy and manageable, and whilst rear visibility is compromised by the styling, it does get a back camera and is very easy to park due to its compact size.

Toyota CH-R

I think they should definitely bring this car to our region – Toyota’s range here does need some fresh offerings, especially cools ones like this. Most likely it would be with the 2.0 that the States get, but I’d petition for the 1.8 Hybrid. They may have to push the price down somehow – in the UK it’s £26,000 (or $35k and about AED130k). Some funky colours, and available personalisation along with that terrific JBL stereo should give it a real boost though.

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