Toyota will challenge Nissan in Europe with new SUV

The C-HR concept hints at Toyota‘s new compact SUV.

FRANKFURT — Toyota’s new SUV to challenge the Nissan Qashqai will give the brand a boost to help win back the title of Europe’s top-selling Asian brand from its Japanese rival.

Toyota will launch a Qashqai rival in Europe in late 2016 or early 2017. It will take cues from the C-HR concept unveiled at the auto show here.

While rivals have updated or enlarged their SUV/crossover ranges in Europe, Toyota’s lineup in the segment shrank after it ended sales of the Urban Cruiser subcompact in 2014.

Nissan passed Toyota as Europe’s top-selling Asian brand in the first eight months. Helped by a new-generation Qashqai, Nissan’s sales surged 20 percent to 373,692 in the EU and EFTA markets through August, compared with Toyota brand sales that increased 6 percent to 372,035.

Toyota Europe sales and marketing chief Karl Schlicht said the automaker did not expect the new SUV’s sales to match the Qashqai, the region’s top-selling compact but it will give the company a boost. “When the C-HR arrives, we will see,” he said.

“The C-HR is close to the Qashqai in size and intent, without being a copycat. We’re targeting different customers,” Schlicht said at event on the sidelines of the show.

Toyota unveiled a five-door CH-R in Frankfurt on Tuesday. The concept is a step nearer to the production car compared with a three-door concept unveiled at the Paris show last year.

The production CH-R will debut in March at the Geneva show. It will be positioned below the RAV 4. The car will be offered with a hybrid powertrain and Toyota’s latest active safety technology.

The C-HR is based on Toyota’s TGNA new modular platform that also underpins the new generation Prius.

Toyota Europe’s r&d head Masahisa Nagata said the platform allows for the adoption of four-wheel drive and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It also gives more freedom for designers to experiment with a bolder design language and it has “a lower gravity point than previous platforms that improves agility and offers fun driving dynamics.”

Jennifer Clark contributed to this report

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