The production version of the Toyota C-HR compact SUV will be a vital addition to the brand’s Australian ranks, according to one of the company’s most senior executives.
The Toyota C-HR concept debuted in three-door guise at the 2014 Paris motor show, while the five-door version showed up at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. In production guise it will be a sub-RAV4 SUV, and that vehicle is confirmed to debut at the 2016 Geneva motor show in March.
The production C-HR (name unconfirmed) will compete in the booming baby SUV segment against the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. But, according to Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, it’s still not officially confirmed for our market yet.
“I think that segment is clearly establishing itself,” Cramb said for the small SUV segment, which is up more than 26 per cent this year.
“I think it’s an important segment and it’s an obvious gap in our line-up at the moment.
“In the same way as we had to get in to the small car market at some point in time, and we came in with Starlet, and then Echo and then Yaris – I think clearly we’ve got to enter that market at some point in time.
“We’ve got our hand firmly in the air for that vehicle, and the discussions are taking place,” he said. “It’s too big a market to ignore, you just can’t not be there.”
Indeed, CarAdvice believes the new model is a certainty for our market and will be sold in Australia by the end of next year.
As for what the range will look like, that remains largely unknown. The brand has indicated to CarAdvice that there will be petrol and hybrid models, but no diesel.
The petrol could be the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder with CVT as fitted in the Corolla hatch, while the hybrid could be the same drivetrain seen in the Prius C (1.5-litre petrol-electric) or Prius V (1.8-litre petrol-electric).
It’s set to be built off the new TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) modular platform, with front- and all-wheel-drive versions possible.
“The first thing we’ve got to do is secure the vehicle, so it’s step-by-step,” Cramb said of the future model line-up.
“At the moment we’re just focused on trying to do that, we’re trying to get it, and if we can get it then obviously launching it as best we can – given the market here.”
However, there has been an upside for Toyota Australia, with sales of the larger, (presumably) more expensive RAV4 seeing unprecedented success.
“RAV is doing amazingly well – better than our expectation – and that’s why we’re short of stock, because we under-predicted what we would be selling.
“I know [Mazda] CX-5 leads that market, but we honestly didn’t realise we’d be selling as many as we are. It has kind of surprised us, it’s a bit of bad planning, but that’s the best problem you can have in this business, is undersupply.”
The RAV4 has managed 13,782 sales to the end of September this year, ranking second in the medium SUV segment behind the Mazda (19,013 sales YTD).