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GEORGE, Western Cape – It's arguably one of Toyota’s most modern and stylish-looking cars. As the Japanese firm is known for taking a conservative approach to design, the C-HR has been one of the few exceptions to the rule since its arrival in South Africa in early 2017. The range has now received a minor facelift and we spent no fewer than 600 km behind the wheel of the updated version.

What’s new?

The front bumper has been tweaked, while the front lip is now finished in body colour. There are new headlamps on the Standard and Plus models, while the foglamps have also been repositioned. In terms of safety, the Standard and Plus models gain curtain and knee airbags (for a total of six across the range). The flagship Luxury model receives the latest Toyota Safety Sense system, which includes items such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, rear cross traffic alert, a pre-crash system, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Inside, there's a new infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The screen size has been increased in diameter to eight inches while the multi-information display on the Plus model now measures 4,2 inches. As the vehicle offers WiFi as standard, Toyota has included a 15 GB data package in the retail price. Note an additional 5 GB monthly top-up costs R220 while 10 GB (+ 3 GB) monthly top-ups are R299. There are also 20 GB (+ 3 GB) and 30 GB (+ 3 GB) bundles on offer.

On the road

As before, all variants in the range are powered by the automaker's 1,2-litre turbopetrol engine, still delivering 85 kW and 185 N.m to the front axle. The engine surprised us with its performance, even at a point where four large males were in the cabin. Our test unit was equipped with a continously variable transmission, which keeps the revs at just above 2 000 r/min at an indicated 120 km/h.

Toyota claims the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) has been improved; indeed, once up to highway speeds, there's little aural interference from the engine, which is impressive if you take the engine size and gearbox type into consideration.

Through the twistiness we encountered on roads such as the Robinson Pass and Tradouw Pass, the little Toyota impressed when thrown into bends with more enthusiasm than it was perhaps designed for. There's a lightness and nimbleness to the driving experience, with dynamics that proved strangely appealing to me.

As has become the case with virtually all Toyota passenger vehicles, the C-HR's ride quality is impressive. Granted, nearly all stretches of road we experienced were smooth but the odd undulation we did encounter proved just how well damped the C-HR is. 

Being a crossover, you sit relatively high in the cabin, even on the seat’s lowest setting. Still, I found the seats themselves comfortable and supportive.

Summary

Although this is a minor facelift, the C-HR remains one of the trendiest Toyota models on the market. The small updates are welcome and bring the C-HR bang up to date. Ultimately, it's still a reliable product which stands out in a segment that is becoming increasingly competitive. And, finally, it seems Toyota might just surprise us with a performance variant in the future...

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