Toyota is a little late with a subcompact crossover SUV, but the C-HR hybrid is on sale now in Europe and comes to the US in spring 2017.
In an interview with the trade journal Automotive News, Toyota Europe CEO Johan van Zyl said the C-HR is a key to the automaker’s goal of increasing hybrid sales to account for half of its total European volume by 2020.
Toyota is forecasting between 50,000 and 100,000 C-HR units a year in Europe, with the hybrid model garnering 70 percent of the total.
SEE ALSO: Toyota Sells Nine-Millionth Hybrid
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show last March, C-HR stands for Coupe-High Rider, despite having four doors and is rather low to the ground for a crossover.
Production for Europe and other countries is in Turkey, but it has not been decided where U.S. models will be made, van Zyl said.
The new model shares the latest Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform with the 2016 Prius.
The hybrid system features a 120 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that emits an unrivaled 90g/km of C02 (carbon dioxide).
CO2 ratings are important in Europe, and in the UK it means the C-HR avoids a road tax.
The C-HR’s styling was penned by Toyota’s California design studio, and the striking looks are polarizing, something the Japanese automaker in not known for.
Its exterior design features angular lines, bulging fenders and a falling roofline.
Slim LED headlamps stretch back over the peak of the wheel arches, the rear door handles are hidden in the rear C-pillar and there’s an inward boomerang bend to the tail lights, which is new for Toyota.
Inside, the daring look of the exterior is traded for a more conventional style. Behind the steering wheel, dials and gauges are standard with a small screen between them.
The only nod to the hybrid powertrain is an eco gauge that replaces the tachometer.
Elsewhere, an 8-inch tablet style infotainment screen dominates the dash, and all controls on the center console are placed slightly towards the driver.
SEE ALSO: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review – Video
Compared with the larger RAV4 Hybrid, the smaller C-HR is about 10 inches shorter, two inches narrower and four inches lower.
It isn’t known if the U.S. model will be offered with only all-wheel drive like the RAV4 Hybrid, or will also have a front-wheel drive model as in Europe.
Toyota does say the C-HR can be optioned with lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control, but it isn’t certain they will be offered in the U.S.
Pricing and an on sale date aren’t expected until next year, perhaps announced at the Chicago Auto Show in February.