First drive: 2024 Toyota C-HR

The PHEV uses new twin-piston brakes, while new ZF frequency-sensitive shock absorbers can soften to improve the ride over high-frequency bumps, while firming up elsewhere to reduce body roll.

There’s also a new powertrain choice, the 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre hybrid systems from the original C-HR being joined by a 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid one, as in our test car. Based on Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid system, this uses the same 150bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine, a new 161bhp electric motor (because of the way these things work, they can send a maximum of 220bhp to the front wheels) and a much larger, 13.8kWh battery. 

It has an official electric-only range of 41 miles, although we got closer to 30 on our test drive. As is common with PHEVs, you can stick this C-HR in EV mode or use a hybrid option that will mete out the power and in tune with the sat-nav can use geofencing to use electric power in clean-air zones. You can also adjust the strength of the regenerative braking, up to a B mode that actually offers close to one-pedal driving.

The work Toyota that has done on the ride is notable, whether you’re in tight urban areas or on fast and flowing roads. It’s comfortable and well balanced, and remains poised on bumpy surfaces while also feeling stable at higher speeds.

It’s agreeable rather than truly dynamic (after all, it’s still a crossover), but it can certainly put a smile on your face.

The PHEV powertrain is also well tuned: the transition between the two power sources is smooth and it offers instant zip in EV mode. The engine has good response, too, with nice pick-up and acceleration and good response to your inputs.

Sadly, the soundtrack doesn’t quite match the performance: it’s a bit flat and very occasionally a bit gruff, although it does without some of the annoyances of the old regular hybrid’s powertrain.

That said, the PHEV’s top speed is no faster than the regular hybrid’s and it is only 0.8sec faster to 0-62mph, so whether you opt for it might well depend on price and whether you are a company car driver (that 41-mile electric range puts it in the favourable 8% benefit-in-kind tax bracket).

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