Toyota C-HR Concept: Previewing a Future Scion Crossover

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Toyota is known for a lot of things, but whimsy and weirdness are not chief among them. Sure, the new Prius is weird, but not in a fun way. The new C-HR concept, on the other hand, is weird in a great way. Even better, it’s headed for production and, if we’re reading the tea leaves correctly, it’ll probably be badged a Scion for the United States. That gives it free license to let its freak flag fly.

An evolution of the matte-blue “design study” of the same name that debuted last year at the Paris auto show, the new C-HR has sprouted an extra set of doors for a total of four and looks nearly as wild as its predecessor despite being “a step closer to production.” The C-HR concept rides high on a set of huge wheels pushed way out to the corners of the swoopy body, which features an extra-aggressive iteration of Toyota’s corporate “Angry Birds” face. As with the Nissan Juke, there are a number of jarring details in the C-HR’s design, including an odd flat plane in the front bumper, headlamps mounted nearly at chest level, a deep swage line rising up before the rear fenders, and a dramatic waistline peak in the rear doors. We particularly dig the floating roof treatment and the L-shaped taillamps that shoot off the body like a pair of handles, the better for daredevil skateboarders to grab, yo.

Much is likely to change when we see the production-intent version, which Toyota says will happen at the 2016 Geneva auto show. We expect that the roofline will be altered to accommodate taller passengers, while the greenhouse should also grow a bit so those same folks can actually see out. Minor bits such as the diffuser, mirrors, and headlamp innards could change, too, and the wheels and tires will certainly shrink to humbler dimensions. If it indeed becomes the long-awaited Scion crossover on which we’ve previously reported, we shall see how much Toyota changes the front end to sync it up with any of Scion’s current products, none of which are seemingly linked in any way through design. For our part, we hope that Toyota changes as little as possible.

The Toyota C-HR concept—as will, we assume, the production version—utilizes the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that underpins the 2017 Prius, a vehicle that’s also making its auto-show debut in Frankfurt. Not coincidentally, the C-HR concept also is a hybrid, says Toyota, although the company didn’t say which, if any, of its powertrain components are shared with the Prius. The future production model almost certainly will be powered by a naturally aspirated four-banger and will offer front- and all-wheel drive, as do all of its competitors.

Speaking of, the C-HR or Scion iC (you heard it here first!) or whatever it’s called will face off against the likes of the Juke, the Mazda CX-3, and the Jeep Renegade when it hits the streets, likely by the end of next year. It’s worth noting that just a few steps away on the Frankfurt show floor, Nissan upped its own funkiness quotient by unveiling the wild Gripz concept, a production version of which may debut in 2017 as a companion to the Juke.

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