Read Caroline’s Toyota C-HR GR Sport review for everything you need to know about buying the latest version of Toyota’s popular hybrid crossover in Ireland.

The Toyota C-HR has been a great success in Ireland since it launched here back in 2016. A new model for Toyota when it launched, the C-HR’s trendy crossover looks and hybrid powertrain have been enough to make it a bestselling car in Ireland in a relatively short space of time.

In 2020, the C-HR was updated slightly inside and out. The range was also widened with the arrival of a new 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain offering buyers the option of more power.

Now Toyota has added a new range topping trim level to the range – introducing the new Toyota C-HR GR Sport. It joins the Luna, Sport and Sol trim lines.

The C-HR range starts from €31,025, with the C-HR GR Sport range starting from €38,515.

The Toyota C-HR GR-Sport on test for Changing Lanes!
The Toyota C-HR GR Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

What’s so special about the Toyota C-HR GR Sport?

Inspired by Toyota’s high performance GR Supra and GR Yaris, the GR Sport trim line bestows the C-HR with a list of sporty design enhancements. Just like the Toyota Corolla GR Sport, these enhancements are purely cosmetic.

Toyota’s 1.8 litre hybrid (122hp) or 2.0 litre hybrid (184hp) powertrains provide the power, with a natural bias towards efficiency – rather than racetrack performance like those classic GR models!

Still it’s a formula that works. The C-HR is a very good looking car anyway, with plenty of interesting design features. The GR Sport adds even more prestige to this popular crossover.

At the front there’s a special black background to the Toyota emblem and headlamp housings. The centre bumper and fog lamp surrounds get a glossy black finish, a dark chrome grille and a new, more aggressively styled front spoiler.

There is lots of standard equipment including touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, dual zone climate control, power adjustable driver’s seat, and auto fold door mirrors. There’s also the full range of Toyota Safety Sense, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert and high beam assist.

Around the back of the car the Toyota emblem has a black background. There are more glossy black reflector surrounds, bespoke under-bumper trim garnish and a GR Sport badge.

The Dynamic Grey paint with black roof is exclusive to the GR Sport and the car sits on special 19″ alloy wheels.

The GR Sport is the new range topper for the C-HR range
The GR Sport is the new range topper for the C-HR range

Inside the C-HR GR Sport

The C-HR has a very stylish interior and good quality finish. It is one of the most premium feeling cabins of the brand’s compact range. You sit that little bit higher than in a hatch and the cabin appears to wrap around you in a sporty way.

The new C-HR GR Sport gets a few special additions including a new silver cabin finish, perforated leather steering wheel rim with red stitching, unique scuff plates, and a GR stop/start button.

There are also new GR-inspired Alcantara seats with leather bolsters and red and grey stitching. They give the cabin a real sporty feel and look great!

The C-HR is classed as a C-segment SUV but it’s on the ‘cosier’ side of the spectrum. There is seating for three in the rear but two will be most comfortable. The coupé-style design of the rear doors and high beltline look great from the outside. But it does mean that it’s quite dark and enclosed feeling for back seat passengers.

The boot at 377 litres is more comparable with the average hatchback. Some crossovers and SUVs in this price bracket do have larger boots and are more practical.

The interior of the Toyota C-HR
The interior of the Toyota C-HR

Driving the Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The Toyota C-HR marked a turning point for the Toyota brand when it was first launched back in 2016. It was the first of a new generation of Toyota cars built upon the TNGA platform with more style and dynamism. TNGA changed everything for Toyota, creating a new line-up of cars that have really driven sales for the brand, including the latest Corolla and RAV4.

Toyota already made some dynamic upgrades to the C-HR in 2020 for improved steering feel. The 2.0-litre hybrid also launched with a new suspension design that improves ride comfort. Refinement was also improved with an upgraded Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) pack to further reduce cabin noise.

The GR Sport adds on that with model-bespoke tyres, suspension system and steering tuning to improve how the car performs on the road, while retaining good ride comfort.

The C-HR GR Sport feels good on the road. It is a fun car to drive that handles more like a hatchback. The steering is precise and you feel nicely connected to the car. It can cruise on the motorway in comfort, with good refinement too. Though this model in particular does grate a bit over bumps on rougher surfaces.

Rear seating in the C-HR
Rear seating in the C-HR

What are my options?

There is the choice of two hybrid powertrains for the C-HR. The 1.8-litre hybrid has 122 hp and the best economy of the range. For anyone seeking a bit more power, the new 2.0-litre hybrid in the C-HR delivers 184 hp and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds.

The Toyota C-HR 2.0-litre hybrid feels robust and well balanced in terms of power and its delivery through a CVT automatic gearbox. Refinement has been improved with less noise from the CVT.

There’s also a new monitor in the latest C-HR to show what percentage of the time your car is driving in EV mode, i.e. on power from the battery not the combustion engine. This is useful in low speed driving for example. Overall this car is as efficient as promised, with my average fuel consumption over a week of driving coming in at 4.8 litres per 100 km.

Did you like it?

The C-HR is one of Toyota’s best models, with a premium finish to the design, interior and on the road behaviour that makes it stand out.

It is a very stylish and fashionable car. It was designed as such. So it’s not the most practical or the best value for money of the C-segment SUVs. But still highly desirable.

All models come well equipped, including the entry into the range.The new GR Sport trim enhances the C-HR’s individual look with a high end finish. It is in short a lovely car. But it starts to get expensive for what is still a relatively compact car. There is better value to be had elsewhere in the range.

Toyota offers two efficient hybrid powertrains for the latest C-HR. But the 1.8-litre hybrid is a good balance on power and efficiency, and will meet the needs of most motorists.

It’s very easy to see the appeal of the C-HR from behind the wheel. As more hybrids come to market, the sophistication of the hybrid powertrain and Toyota’s experience in this area shines through.

The Toyota C-HR is a trendy and fun to drive crossover
The Toyota C-HR is a trendy and fun to drive crossover

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

Model tested: Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
184 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
8.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 120 g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year