No door handle is in a regular place, no window is a regular shape

Really, though, why do you want a small family SUV? Whats wrong with a regular family saloon or, for anyone without a big hobby, a hot hatch? Is it like that thing where you do an MA because nobodys impressed by a degree any more, and then you end up knowing a ton about French feminism for no reason? Im not being anti-intellectual. Im not even being anti-SUV. Im just being very slightly sceptical about the Toyota CH-R.

This is the most over-designed vehicle Ive ever come across: the dash is fancy with diamond patterns, the body work is lousy with pointy bits, no door handle is in a regular place, no window is a regular shape if it can be segmented. Nobody knows why they want their windows to look like insects, or why the back end has to be modelled on an 80s film about a flying boat (which doesnt exist; stop Googling). I guess you could always ask, but that would seem discourteous, like asking someone if their hair is meant to be that colour. All of this plays merry havoc with the rear visibility. This was not the car on which to test the proposition nobody really needs a parking camera; simple intelligent park assist (unmelodious, constant beeping) will do just fine.

There is a hybrid option, which gives it a dazzling, below 90g/km carbon emission, but in the regular 1.2 petrol engine that I was driving, the mileage was unremarkable. Its light and zippy, and the steering is trustworthy, but again, if thats the kind of thing youre into, why did you buy this kind of car? A Golf will go like shit off a shovel. I guess you might want boot space. There is space in this boot. You wouldnt want to put a filing cabinet or a pair of spaniels in it, but you wouldnt be cursing the gods for your second child when you went on holiday.

Its pretty quiet and smooth in town, but on the motorway it feels thin: theres a lot of ambient wind noise, a bit of whine in the higher gears; space and visibility in the back are constrained enough that any journey over half an hour results in passenger claustrophobia.

Seriously, all this for the dignity of being able to step up into the car rather than just in, and a slightly higher ride than others on the road, who are laughing at you anyway because of your spoiler. Id rather choose simple, humble and low-slung. Small, budget-ish SUVs are ugly by nature (oh my God, the Nissan Juke!) but this one makes a feature of it.

Toyota CH-R: in numbers


Price 27,705
Top speed 118mph
Acceleration 0 to 62mph in 10.9 seconds
CO2 emissions 136g/km
Combined mileage 47.1mpg
Cool rating 4/10
Eco rating 7/10

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