Could this be your next, cleaner, greener more efficient means of getting around? Motoring Editor Phillipa Sage puts it at the top of her wish list.
In the last couple of years, especially since being involved with Frank Magazine, I’ve become more aware of the need to make changes in my everyday life to decrease my carbon footprint.
Changing my car has been high on my agenda. This summer the time had come, as I’d reached over 100,000 miles on the clock of my planet-destroying Range Rover. Since the Covid lockdowns, I have been weighing up my options.
I first spotted this sporty little number, the Toyota C-HR GR Sport, during the original lockdown just as the world began changing forever (though in case you hadn’t noticed, the world is always changing and for better or worse we are all constantly evolving and need to).
I was on a grand day out, or so it felt at that strange time – a trip to fill up my car. I was one of the few who was leaving my house every day to care for my Dad.
Whilst queuing at what felt like an illegal rave, (I felt like I had to explain myself to those who were more obviously nurses and delivery drivers) I’d perhaps gone over the top by having a shower, washing my hair and putting a little makeup on in an attempt to not feel like a depressed hermit.
It was hard not to get over-excited about actually going to a public place where I might meet, not get too close to, of course, other human beings.
As I sat there, waiting patiently at this strange social/not-social gathering, as if waiting at the bar on a big night out, something caught my eye. “Wow”, I said to myself. Instead of a stylish woman sporting the latest trend or a good-looking man, I was looking at the latest Toyota C-HR.
It stood out amongst all the same old same olds queueing for fuel. What I later found out to be one of Toyota’s best sellers was incredibly stylish, sporty and robust looking in an intriguing, futuristic way.
I wondered what it might be like on the inside. Was it a genuine C-SUV (that’s a Coupe Sports Utility Vehicle in case you didn’t know) or did it just look like it could do the job?
How would it perform? Would it be as fun as it looked? Could it fulfil its SUV remit and cope with the uneven, sometimes treacherous, country lanes as well as giving a fast and responsive performance on motorways and around town?
These days I don’t often get inspired by many cars, as in recent years they have all started to look the same, like bearded men, but I thought that the C-HR could be one to aim for as my life evolves and I wish to clean up my act by moving on from my diesel guzzling Range Rover.
Sometime later, after we were all released from the numerous Covid restrictions and I found myself in this dream job of reviewing cars with mindfulness at the heart of it, I put the C-HR on my review wish list.
It didn’t disappoint, especially as Toyota sent the top-of-the-range GR Sport model to play with for the week. It was white with a black roof and trim, which made it acceptable to me. I’m not a fan of an all-white car, especially in the often-muddy rural setting where I live.
All the GR models come in this rather eye-catching bi-tone trim with machined, black alloys and one of my favourite design details, almost hidden rear doors that give the appearance of a sporty two-door hot-hatch but with the practicality of a four-door.
Other than the colour it soon became apparent that this was a strong contender for my next car, but a big step down from the luxury of my Range Rover with its first-class airline-type seats and enough space to fit two small sheep, a couple of dogs and still have room for my parents and a couple of overnight bags as well as being able to tow a pony or two. (Yes, I did use it for all of the above).
However, my life was evolving, my dogs are old and I very rarely take them in the car. I no longer wish to tow a horsebox and so often it is just me and my son in the car.
My needs had changed quite considerably and as we all should, I have become much more mindful of my daily impact on the planet, plus fuel has become a very expensive luxury.
However, I would still need to fit at least one dog in, in the event of a visit to the vet and fit a few sacks of animal feed and at least one bale of hay in an emergency.
The C-HR ticked all those boxes and gave me joy and excitement with its sporty feel and handling, which would be great compensation for downgrading from the luxury of a Range Rover. It is much smaller but big enough. Even my ducks approved, as you can see in my photo.
Although very comfy and not too hard a ride, as some sporty cars can be, it did lack that luxurious feel for a top-of-the-range car with a price tag to match. With all extras, the GR 2.0L version could set you back £35k plus. With my mindful head on, as long as I was comfy it was more than adequate and it did fulfil its sports branding.
Of course, you could opt for one of the lesser models like the Design grade, which would be the greener and cheaper choice only lacking in a few technical tweaks to deliver a sportier feel and a little more power.
I think we should all think a bit more about what we need from a car. I certainly have. I started to realise that although I live a rural life, I very rarely go on terrain that the Range Rover was made for and I wouldn’t be going near a race track any time soon.
Let’s face it, we are so limited for speed by cameras or traffic that there is little point in having an overly powerful car. I like just enough power that delivers when needed to get yourself out of trouble. I love a car that stands out from the crowd and has character, and the CH-R certainly has loads of that.
Toyota has made such advances with the 2-litre engine, it achieves a maximum thermal efficiency of 41%, the world’s highest level for a mass-produced petrol engine.
This means, in simple terms, that the engine converts the energy in its fuel into usable energy to power the vehicle very well with minimum waste, allowing those who do enjoy a little more oompf to not feel too guilty.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I have got confused about which of these new gen cars are best for our planet. After a lot of thought and research, I decided the self-charging hybrid was the best option, given the network of charging points is not as adequate as I’d like and the initial expense of a fully electric car is out of my reach.
(By the way, Toyota have a great tool on their website which helps with this decision. You can enter your mileage and where you drive most, and it works out which Hybrid or EV would work best for you.)
With careful driving, especially around town, the C-HR could run purely on self-charge using no petrol and emitting nothing nasty, which in town is where it’s more important.
I was feeling quite excited about starting my new clean car life with this sporty, handsome but genuinely practical vehicle. But with my wish to not keep changing my car, which I believe is one of the greenest ways to manage car ownership, I could not find one within my budget with low enough mileage.
I may not have gained the best green credentials yet, but at least I’m now driving petrol rather than diesel in a far more fuel-efficient vehicle (only a 1.4l). I have to admit though, that the C-HR still catches my eye and if your budget allows, I can highly recommend it.