Toyota set to join subcompact crossover fray

Entry expected to join U.S. Scion lineup in ’16

Entry expected to join U.S. Scion lineup in ’16

FRANKFURT — Toyota confirmed that it will jump into the subcompact crossover segment next year with a new model it’s tentatively calling the C-HR.

The C-HR concept shown last week here was an update of a C-HR concept revealed last year in Paris. The production version will debut in early March at the Geneva auto show, Toyota said.

The C-HR shown in Frankfurt is confirmed for Europe and it’s widely expected to come to the U.S. in late 2016 as a Scion vehicle. This would make it the last of the three new entries Scion has promised dealers, after the iA and iM that went on sale this month.

The C-HR seen in Frankfurt uses a hybrid drivetrain, but once the vehicle comes stateside, it’s expected to use a naturally aspirated gasoline engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive will be standard, while all-wheel drive is expected to be optional.

The vehicle would be smaller than the Toyota RAV4 compact crossover, and line up squarely against recent entrants such as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax and Jeep Renegade.

The tidy proportions and aggressive profile echo those of Nissan’s Juke, which has been a hit in Europe. The shape is aimed at buyers who don’t carry lots of luggage or people, Hiro Koba, chief engineer for the C-HR project, told Automotive News in a roundtable here.

“They don’t have a lot of stuff, so that’s why I focused on the styling, while a little bit sacrificing interior space, rear seat and luggage space,” Koba said.

Through August, U.S. subcompact cross-over sales are up 90 percent over the first eight months of 2014, thanks to low gasoline prices and a wave of new products. Consumers are flocking to these vehicles, which promise virtually the same fuel economy as subcompact cars but offer a higher ride position and more cargo room.

The C-HR concept is built on Toyota’s new TNGA modular platform, the same underpinnings as the 2016 Prius, which made its auto show debut last week here after a reveal in Las Vegas.

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