Introduced last year at the Paris Motor Show as a 3-door hatchback, the Toyota C-HR concept returned to the Frankfurt show this year with two extra doors and a promise that the next time the vehicle it is shown, it will be in production trim. That appearance will occur next March in Geneva. Based on the same Toyota New Generation Architecture that underpins the recently unveiled Prius, the C-HR is a subcompact crossover SUV designed to compete with the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 but with a difference by introducing hybrid technology to the segment.

Diamond styling theme

The 5-door C-HR Concept is said to embody a diamond styling theme because the lower body beneath the greenhouse has faceted surfaces similar to a precision-cut gemstone. That diamond theme is repeated in the lower grille work and on the expressive 21-inch alloy wheel design. Above that lower intake, the face of the vehicle has a new wing-like grille opening with the floating Toyota logo, a look that is repeated on the Prius. That smaller opening sweeps into the faceted lighting elements.

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The  C-HR's profile is dominated by a floating roof design created by a C-pillar treatment that's divided between the lower body and its gloss-black top panel. The rear has a tapering hatch that sits above a bold fascia incorporating a pronounced diffuser, integrated fog lamps, hatch-mounted spoiler and floating rear light clusters. Although similar in appearance to its 3-door predecessor, the newest C-HR iteration seamlessly blends the rear portals into the body, hiding the door handles in the break between the body side and the floating roof.

Integrated hybrid power

Although Toyota didn't provide the specifics of the hybrid system, it did say the C-HR will incorporate Toyota's next-generation hybrid powertrain that will include state-of-the-art battery technology with great power density as well as an internal combustion engine boasting 40 percent more thermal efficiency. Toyota also promised that the new hybrid setup will be more compact, lighter in weight and more efficient as well as being more refined, easier and more intuitive to drive. According to Hiroyuki Koba, deputy chief engineer in charge of the project, the C-HR will off all-wheel drive as an option. He stressed that in developing the C-HR, he focused on "styling and driving." He added that in addition to being the first hybrid in segment, the goal is to produce a crossover SUV with sporty handling with a distinctive look.

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By basing the Toyota C-HR production vehicle on the Toyota New Generation Architecture, the resulting vehicle will have a stiffer chassis, lower center of gravity and will boast an independent suspension with greater ride comfort. In sharing the architecture with other vehicles like the Prius, Toyota said the resources required for developing the car will be reduced by 20 percent or more. We'll see how much of this concept car flavor carries over into the production model next spring in Geneva. There's currently speculation that the Toyota C-HR may be marketed here in America wearing a Scion badge.

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