Did You Miss This One Too?

Toyota showed off the C-HR at the 2016 Geneva motor show and I was too busy checking paint colours to notice it.

2017 Toyota C-HR: source
2017 Toyota C-HR: source

Flipping goodness (exclamation mark). The interior has now been revealed. I had some thoughts about the exterior though.Here is the car in side view. Seen from a distance I get the impression the body and wings are separating.

2016 Toyota C-HR: source
2016 Toyota C-HR: source

Approximately 17 years ago, a car in the corresponding sector looked like this, very minimal and clear.

1999 Honda HRV: source
1999 Honda HRV: source

The C-HR is a hybrid and it will be on sale next year. The amazingly astonishingly amazing fact about this car is that it will be parked on the side of roads as if that’s a normal, typical thing. People will walk past it and ignore it. These days people don’t notice this kind of thing, do they?

At this point it’s too early to say if the C-HR is actually any good. I am learning to wait about five years and sometimes up to 25 years before offering conclusive decisions on car designs. There’s not much hope for Citroen C5 Mk 1 (I still think it’s dreadful). I don’t want to get caught out like people did with the Fiat Multipla and simply declare the CHE a failure (note that I approved of the Multipla at the time).

I have shown the interior with and without its major formal innovation.

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The CH-R is the product of a company who are very confident about their ability to sell cars. It’s a hard design to parse: there is so much going on. Again, I am forced to refer readers to the late stages of Rococo furniture or perhaps late Baroque architecture. The Honda is classicism and the C-HR is the very end of autoBaroque . Can any more forms be piled on top of these forms? Rather unfairly, all this design exuberance will not really be noticed, as I said. When the DS appeared it seemed to not only break with the past but also summed up the essence of a passenger car. This design doesn’t do that.

Let’s be clear, this is a remarkably bold product. It’s also not summing up anything but adding even more. We’re at a stage not too dissimilar to 1959 in American cars. And the difference is that you can also buy something like this: 2017-peugeot-3008-top-gear

Such is the state of things that I am offering this (above) as a plain design. Can you name it? (The answer is at the end of the article). Below is the Land Rover Discovery:

As good?
As good? Source

And here’s the Lynk&Co launched recently:

2016 Lynk & Co Model 01
2016 Lynk & Co Model 01: source

This what the back of the C-HR looks like:

2017 Toyota C-HR: source
2017 Toyota C-HR: source

So, we have here a design where the major formal elements are erupting from the car. The lamps and even the panel of the liftgate are standing proud of the adjoining parts. And they did much the same thing at the front but you can Google that yourself.

In their own way the cars Toyota did in the middle 80’s such as the Crown also appeared complex compared to their European peers. Is this car the equivalent of a fussily chamfered 1986 Camry? What I think I have been trying to do with this text is only to begin to work out what is going on with this car, and I finish only with a set of half-articulated thought burps.

Brave were the design directors who approved this and their managers showed a lot of trust too. Can you imagine this happening at BMW, Audi, Ford or Opel? They do good work but I get the feeling that if ideas this wild are ever conceived of there, they would never get past the filters.

And the answer is...
And the answer is… source


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

19 thoughts on “Did You Miss This One Too?”

  1. “There´s not much hope for Citroen C5 Mk 1 (I still think it´s dreadful)”

    Worse than the C5 Mk 2?

    1. That’s hard to judge. Both are disappointing in their own way. The Mk2 is plain old not very good. The Mk1 has what I think of as technical errors plus its indecisive.

    2. I hold with the idea that history will be kinder with the Mark 1 C5 than Richard suggests. The profile testifies to its generous passenger space, the original nose is admittedly awful but, on the road, it is unmistakably a proper hydraulic Citroen – my choice would be a facelifted estate. The Mark 2 seems to have been engineered specifically for PSA to prove that no-one should want hydraulics any more.

    3. In my view, definitely, although with the respective Estate versions it is a lot closer thing.

  2. As for the C-HR, I think Richard and I might diverge on this. Yes, it is interesting to see Toyota not taking the safe path they used to. But the fiddling with creases at the rear is just a case of ‘too many notes’. Is it the unacceptable face of Waku-Doki? That said, contrary to most people, I quite like the new Prius.

    1. It’s too early to say whether this is good or otherwise. At the moment the detailing is thick with more detailing. Maybe it’ll normalise with time. If you think what an impression the Multipla and then the Bangle BMWs made, the impact of this mallet-in-the-soup is much less. That’s quite something.
      The Prius is not bad. Again, strong flavours that no-one’s talking about. It means there’s not much sense of normal now. In 1995 there was.

    2. I (and I’m not trying to boast my prescience here, particularly since in the latter case, few people ever changed their minds) found Bangle BMWs and the Multipla visually rewarding from Day 1. But this just seems a bit too noisy. But, in the end, I’m not really knocking it, since it seems less of a waste of metal than yet another identikit crossover.

  3. Sean defends the C5 on solid intellectual grounds: the package is good. However, the appearance, at a gut level, fails if you have to first justify it like that. The dimensional difference between the C5 as it is and how a good-looking version would be is not more than 10-25mm, locally.

    1. Not exactly. When I look at the C5 in profile, I find the way it suggests passenger space satisfying on a gut level. A bit like a Renault Kangoo is. If it had a longer boot, say, that wouldn’t be the case.

  4. I really like the C-HR. In a sea of bland me-too CUVs, it dares to be different. And unlike the abysmal new Prius, it looks as if Toyota has spent some time resolving the intersections between various materials. No doubt it will be as edifying to drive as a cork mat reheated in a microwave, but Toyota have taken a punt on the looks and I think it works.

  5. It took me years to notice the C5 as a package. The shape makes such a visual stink that it deters intellectual probing. For me, the shape should look good, not so good as to compromise a decent package but good enough to make up for the difference between the package optimum and the compromise. Cars like the Solstice and New Beetle had woeful packages and the looks couldn´t save them. The C-HR is certainly placing a big bet on striking looks. That it´s a Toyota will help overcome people´s anxiety. Toyota buyers nearly don´t care about looks. Will it attract non-Toyota customers? Possibly those who accepted the Juke will be interested. It´s even Jukier.

  6. It’s interesting Richard has chosen to contrast the C-HR with last decade’s HR-V, because this Toyota screams Honda to me. Place it next to a new-era Civic and they could be stablemates. Even the name is distinctly Honda-esque. Look at that rear three quarter light. Imagine being confined to those dank quarters. I imagine kids are now so transfixed by their devices, they never look at their surroundings anyway, but imagine trying to reverse park the thing.

    Speaking of the ’99 HR-V, I was out on my velo the other day and within the space of five minutes saw three of them. Three! Later on the same day, I spied another. All five door models by the way. I’ll admit to being quite sniffy about it when it was new, but time has been very kind to this car. Maybe I’ll say the something similar about the C-HR in about a decade’s time, (if I still have my faculties by then) but I’m inclined to doubt it.

    1. The rising waistline and the huge c-pillar. Yes, it´s crap for kids in the back of cars. That´s why I liked the Meriva. The designers considered the users. The wacky window line makes sense on lots of levels. This car from Toyota is pure indulgence, as mad as a 1957 Chevrolet. I don´t know if I will accept it in a decade. I did like the HRV at the time and I still do. It´s really well done, from top to tail. I´d want one in yellow.

    2. The rear cabin of this car does look like it will be unpleasantly claustrophobic, especially for kids. That is if they can open the door in the first place – given the location and angle of the handle, I’m not sure that it’s possible.

      This is perhaps a brave design, but is it any good? I’m not sure that it is.

  7. Apart from the unforgivably crap rear accommodation (marginally better than being in the boot) if I view it just as a design, I can see how it looked great as a concept sketch. Then all the production compromises were made, particularly shut lines that no account at all of the side sculpture. So it ends up being completely compromised and all I see are the flaws, not the flourishes.

  8. On the few occasions that I’ve had to give ‘civilians’ (ie people who aren’t actually interested in cars) a lift in the back of my Citroen, I’ve always apologised to them (genuinely) and explained that, had I known I would be giving them a ride, I would have brought a different car with more room (possibly not always true). In any case I have acknowledged that once you carry other people in your car, it isn’t always about you.

    It’s a reasonable point to say that some kids are so obsessed in the virtual world that windows are wasted on them but, generally, I’d say that buying this car for its looks is a selfish and thoughtless indulgence if you ever plan on carrying someone in the back …. or reversing. This makes a Juke look like the Crystal Palace.

    Do you think that this car would be safe to clean without Kevlar gloves?

  9. It does look better than the Juke which still jars a little even after 6 years. I never thought the Juke would blend into the traffic like a “normal” car but it is beginning to do so. The back of a Juke is not a nice place to be and I’m sure the CH-R is no different. Like on all new Lexus’ those tail lights seem as if the car is trying to physically push them away and while not as bad as the Prius I really think that the car would look so much better if they were more part of the car. I’m sure that it will be just another car in a couple of years in a way that the Prius or NX maybe won’t.

  10. The C-HR (what does it mean? even in the context of Toyota’s range??) looks like it is a Qashqai sized chassis with a Juke sized cabin sat upon it. I do find it has appeal and I admire it in a queer way, but I’d be far too embarrassed to own one – I’d be too self-conscious. It also seems to be a reject Lexus design …

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