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The styling theme of the C-HR C-segment crossover hints at the future design direction for Toyota vehicles. (Ryan Gehm) (View additional images by clicking on the arrow at top right of image.)

Toyota reveals new platform, hybrid powertrain in C-HR concept

The C-HR crossover concept is an important vehicle for Toyota, demonstrating the Japanese automaker's desire for more "engaging" design. Unique styling is a key attribute for a new vehicle, particularly in the highly competitive European C-segment market, said Karl Schlicht, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Europe, at the Paris Motor Show unveiling.

Significantly, the company's ED² (European Design Development) studio based in Southern France led the design for the concept, which introduces what Toyota calls a "diamond architecture" styling theme. The lower bodywork is "sculpted to represent the facetted surfaces of a highly durable, precision-cut gemstone," press materials expound.

Setting such florid descriptions aside, the styling hints at the future design direction for its vehicles, Toyota promises.

Key design elements in the front include a slim upper grille extending into the headlights that incorporate a unique 3-D treatment of the daytime running lights, as well as an aero-inspired floating front spoiler. From the side, the glasshouse tapers to the rear window, which along with the "spoiler-tipped roof line" creates the effect of a floating roof.

Beyond the design elements, the crossover concept is significant because it introduces a new platform with what Toyota claims will be a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity. Improved handling and a more "fun-to-drive" vehicle are important bogeys for the C-HR, said a Toyota spokesman after the concept's Paris debut.

Smaller than the RAV4, the crossover concept is 4350 mm (171.3 in) long, 1850 mm (72.8 in) wide, and 1500 mm (59.0 in) tall, with a wheelbase of 2640 mm (103.9 in). (See chart for size comparison to the 2014 RAV4.)

The concept also employs a new full-hybrid powertrain that reportedly will deliver "significantly" improved fuel efficiency.

Questions to the spokesperson regarding the new hybrid system, platform specifics, and material usage were invariably met with “Unfortunately, I cannot provide any more details at this time.”

He did offer, though, that the next-generation hybrid system is "certainly a level up from what we have in our current [hybrid] vehicles."

The European market is a major one for Toyota and Lexus hybrid sales. Through the first eight months of 2014, hybrid sales for the brands reached 107,000 units, representing 28% of the Toyota Group sales in Western Europe.

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