Toyota NZ has put its name down for the production version of the C-HR concept (above) when it is unveiled at the Geneva motor show next March.
In doing so it is playing catch-up in the compact SUV/crossover market, particularly the quirky segment that Japanese rival Nissan has pretty much had to itself with the Juke for almost the past four years.
Toyota NZ product manager Spencer Morris said the C-HR production car was definitely on the company’s wish-list. “Given the right specification, pricing and availability for our market, we would expect the C-HR production model to accelerate the already-hot demand for vehicles in the small SUV segment,” Morris said.
Toyota showed at the Frankurt motor show this week the second iteration of the C-HR concept, after first revealing it 12 months ago at the Paris event. It is part of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s promise to build better cars to bring the fun back into driving.
The 2014 study was a two-door. The second is a four-door, developed on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) programme, which will also underpin the new Prius. Included is an updated hybrid powertrain, although it is unlikely to be available at launch.
The first concept mirrored aspects of the Juke, particularly the disguised access to the rear doors. The second picks up revised lights and wheels, along with a gloss-black roof to replace the previous two-tone blue and black unit.
Toyota said the C-HR’s unidentified powertain was more efficient than its current hybrid systems, with a marked increase in power density. It “will be notably more refined, and even easier and more intuitive to drive, with a natural, smooth and immediate response to driver inputs,” it said.
NZ is not the only Toyota division having to start from scratch in a slice of the market that Nissan and the Juke pretty much invented. “We’re a little bit late into this segment,” said Toyota Motor Europe executive vice-president Karl Schlight,
“We want to add the C-HR to our line-up” he told reporters at Frankfurt. “This is the fastest growing segment. We want to make sure that people understand we’ve arrived and we think the C-HR has got fantastic potential in Europe, especially the hybrid version.”
But Nissan won’t be losing any sleep over what powertrains Toyota will use on the production C-HR model – Nissan is already looking at an optional hybrid system for the next-generation Juke, due in 2018.
Questioned at Frankfurt about a hybrid, Nissan chief creative officer Shio Nakamura said: “We are still working on Juke and it has a lot of potential. We are still working on a couple of scenarios.”
Nakamura said there was a huge amount of expectation surrounding the new Juke. “It’s not always easy to make the second-generation model as successful as the first,” he said.
“Qashqai second-generation is very successful, and now we need to have a second generation Juke. But Juke is not like a Qashqai, we must have some surprise, repeating the same thing is not enough. Will we go extreme or a different direction? We have options.”