The chic new Toyota C-HR “elevated coupe” crossover is not just a straight Mazda CX-3 and Suzuki Vitara rival, says the company’s sales and marketing chief Tony Cramb.
While the small SUV market is its core target, the wild design will also appeal to statement-makers, and is expected to be cross-shopped to some degree against cars such as the Hyundai Veloster or even Toyota’s own 86 coupe.
We asked Cramb this week whether the ‘SUV’ tag really belongs on a vehicle like the C-HR, with its car-like stance and low-slung roof.
“Part of me wonders if it really should be classified as an SUV at all… the overall look is truly car like,” Cramb volunteered.
You may recall our ‘SUVs have jumped the shark’ column last week suggesting a re-think of how the term be used on vehicles of this sort — we’re thinking of cars such as the CX-3, Nissan Juke and Suzuki Ignis, for example.
“It’s coupe-like, really, it’s just an elevated coupe. It has extra capability but it has the styling and feel when you drive it more like a passenger vehicle.”
Would it be cross-shopped against proper little coupes?
“It’s possible,” he said. “The guests (customers) that have been coming in for this vehicle clearly are making a statement and trying to obviously stand out from crowd, so I do think there will be a cross-shop, yeah.
“It’s not the most obvious and direct one, obviously, but clearly people will be attracted to it.”
The Toyota C-HR arrives in showrooms today priced from $26,990 plus on-road costs, topping out just above $35k. Power comes from a brand new 1.2-litre turbo engine — so it’s no rocket — and you can get front- and all-wheel drive, and manual/CVT gearboxes.
There are also a range of bright paint options, eight alloy wheel designs, contrasting roof paint (on top-spec Koba variants only), various colourful accessories, and a virtual-reality headset-based interactive buyer experience on offer, brandishing Toyota’s youth push.
The major concern for Toyota Australia is supply, which the Japanese factory has limited to just 6000 units for our market this year. Why? Pre-orders in Japan total 48,000, and there’s a massive backlog to clear through.
“This will be like 86 when it launched,” Cramb said, referring to that car’s lengthy waiting lists. “That’s our biggest single concern,” he added, saying the company already held more than a month’s-worth of sales (about 5000 units) on pre-order.