Toyota’s hybrid surge will gather pace by the end of the year with confirmation the C-HR small SUV will follow its larger RAV4 sibling in offering a petrol-electric model.
The addition of the C-HR Hybrid will be the biggest change for the upgraded small SUV that also gets new headlights and tail lights and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity on a new 8.0-inch touchscreen.
However, the C-HR Hybrid is unlikely to be the same sales sensation as the RAV4, which has waiting lists stretching months.
That’s because only one C-HR Hybrid model will be offered — and that sole model will be based on the most expensive Koba variant, which currently sells from $33,290 plus on-road costs.
While C-HRs in some overseas markets will get a 2.0-litre hybrid, Australian cars get a less powerful 1.8-litre hybrid system, the same drivetrain used in the Corolla Hybrid and Prius.
While the RAV4 Hybrid is offered in both two- and four-wheel drive configurations, the C-HR will be limited to a front-drive only model; all-wheel drive versions will continue to be powered by the 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo.
While pricing is yet to be confirmed for the updated C-HRs — including the Hybrid — it could end up being more expensive than the RAV4 Hybrid, assuming Toyota adds the same circa-$2500 premium for petrol-electric power.
Toyota also looks likely to drop the C-HR’s manual gearbox option, instead focusing on automatics.
Toyota justifies the premium-only strategy for the C-HR Hybrid by saying almost half of all C-HR sales are for the better specified Koba in two-wheel drive configuration.
The C-HR Hybrid will be more fuel efficient than the RAV4, with claimed consumption of 4.3 litres per 100km versus 4.7L/100km. The RAV4 Hybrid is about 31 per cent more efficient than the front-wheel drive model, while the C-HR is 33 per cent more frugal than its non-hybrid alternative.
The C-HR Hybrid is calibrated to run on regular unleaded, whereas all other C-HRs require premium unleaded.
Toyota says the new model is a response to growing customer demand for alternative engine technology.
“Our customers are demanding an alternative powertrain that delivers strong performance, refinement and low fuel consumption, and hybrid answers that need,” said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing.
Originally published as Toyota continues hybrid push with new model