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The 2017 Toyota C-HR is gearing up to hit Australian shores in February as the Japanese brand begins preparations to enter a segment it has previously not contested in.

Having decided to bring only two higher spec variants of the C-HR to Australia: Active and Koba, CarAdvice believes Toyota plans to position the vehicle close to the Nissan Qashqai in terms of pricing.

With its compatriot starting from $25,990 for the front-wheel drive manual, it gives us a good indication of Toyota’s yet to be confirmed pricing strategy.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the international launch of the C-HR in Madrid today, Toyota’s boss of public relations, Mike Breen, confirmed the brand expects the small SUV to be a relatively big seller.

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“It’s our first entry into the market, we just have to wait and see. We will sell as many as we can get, as we always try and do, and price it as competitively as we can – as we always try and do.” Breen said.

The C-HR is based on Toyota New Global Architecture platform (TNGA), being the second car after the new Prius to utilise the brands new engineering approach, which sees the engine positioned lower in the bay, giving a better centre of gravity, better body rigidity and lower overall vehicle height.

Australian models will be powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 85kw of power and 185Nm of torque. Front wheel drive models will be available with a six-speed manual while the all-wheel drive variants make use of a continuously variably automatic transmission (CVT).

The AWD variants use an electro-magnetic coupling, which depending on road and driver requirements, can vary the front-rear drive force distribution from 100 per cent for the front wheels to 50/50 front and rear.

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Although an ANCAP safety rating is yet to be determined, a five-star score seems rather likely thanks to its impressive array of standard passive and active safety systems that include pre collision autonomous emergency braking (from 10km/h), smart active cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beam assist. Other features include blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Breen says that the C-HR might do for Toyota what the 86 did in the sports-car segment by bringing a new generation of buyers that may never have previously considered the brand.

“It’s a bit like the 86, it’s the 86 sports car in an AWD crossover body shape – so we hope the younger people will come into the market and look at Toyota for the first time. But it’s a car that appeals to the young and the young at heart so it will cross a wide range of age groups.”

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Australian-delivered models will come from Japan, however Europe and other markets get their cars from a Toyota plant in Turkey. As for the C-HR hybrid? Breen says never say never.

“I think because it’s our first entry into the market, and in Australia the volume is quite small compared to the rest of the world, we will just see how it goes and maybe in time we might look at the hybrid.”

Pricing and final equipment levels are still to be determined, however local models will feature a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, two-tiered front seat design along with a rear-view camera.

Stepping up to the Koba adds heated seats, keyless entry and start, privacy glass and 18-inch alloy wheels.

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