TOKYO -- Toyota was late to the subcompact crossover party, but it wants to take a big bite out of the segment with the bold design and driving dynamics of its in-your-face C-HR.
And if the squat, muscular crossover looks too aggressive and wild, all the better.
Hiroyuki Koba, general manager of the C-HR, said its polarizing design is key to Toyota’s love-it-or-leave-it formula for turning heads and breaking the brand’s reputation for boring cars.
Toyota’s entry, which went on sale in Japan on Wednesday, aims to conquest more than the average 20 percent new-to-Toyota customer ratio achieved by its nameplates, Koba said.
Its distinct looks -- starting with is oversized wheels, bulging fenders and radically sloped rear window -- will get it noticed and help drive sales because market research shows design is the top priority of customers shopping in this segment, Koba said at a Tuesday launch event.
“If you like it, you love it. If you don’t like it, you never will,” said Koba, its chief engineer. “We are looking for customers who disliked Toyota before. We want to turn their heads.”
Toyota expects to sell 170,000 C-HRs a year globally, though Koba declined to give a breakdown for specific markets. The vehicle will go on sale in Europe in January and in the the U.S. next spring. It will be sourced from Toyota’s plant in Turkey, which is expected to build 100,000 units a year.