A team from ED2, Toyota’s European design studio, has explored new ideas in colours, textures and trims to create the Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Concept, a new interpretation of the crossover that offers high visual impact, linked to its use of a new, more performance-focused hybrid powertrain.
The Toyota C-HR has enjoyed strong success since its launch at the end of 2016, Toyota’s entry into the mid-size crossover market making an immediate impact with its striking styling and rewarding driving character, founded on its Toyota New Global Architecture-based (TNGA) platform. The availability of Toyota’s latest-generation hybrid powertrain has also proved highly popular with customers, commanding the majority of European sales (more than 75 per cent).
The production model has provided the inspiration for Toyota designers to explore the possibilities for a higher powered hybrid version, with an even more impactful and emotional styling treatment. The result is the new Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Concept, created by a team at ED2, Toyota’s European design studio in the South of France and making its world debut at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.
Toyota’s intention has been to develop the styling of the Toyota C-HR to produce a very desirable vehicle that connects even more strongly with customers who have highly individual tastes and lifestyles, emphasising its stylishness and fun-to-drive character. Further exploring the “diamond” architectural theme of the production model, the new concept displays a high quality execution and attention to detail throughout. The design also reflects the presence of a more powerful hybrid powertrain, heralding a future expansion of Toyota’s hybrid programme.
From the start of the Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Concept project the design team knew that they did not want to use heavy customisation or “bolted-on” elements to achieve the impact they were looking for. Instead, their skills were applied to amplifying the inherent qualities of the production car’s design through innovative use of colours, finishes and detailing. In fact, the concept uses exactly the same sheet metal as the showroom car.
Exploring the diamond theme that underpins the Toyota C-HR’s styling more deeply, the team at ED2 found inspiration in the natural forces that turn carbon into diamonds and the way in which solid rock can conceal a fiery, molten core.
This thinking led to the use of a new Dark Carbon silver paint with a matt finish to accentuate the interplay between the vehicle’s sharp lines and deeply sculpted surfaces. The effect is heightened by the use of gloss black elements, including the lower front lip spoiler, the area above the Toyota emblem on the front of the car and the wheel arch trims. Dark chrome sustains this effect, witnessed in the headlamp ornamentation, window frames and in the 20-inch alloy wheels.
A dramatic contrast is struck by dazzling use of an anodised Burning Orange finish on the front pillars, the door mirror housings and an accent bar within the headlamp units. The colour is also used as a highlight within the black diamond mesh pattern of the lower grille.
The use of colour, texture and form combine to even greater effect on the concept car’s roof. A unique, “diamond-cut” film covers the entire surface in a faceted, crystalline pattern that flows from darkest black at the rear to brilliant anodised orange at the front, mixing together contrasting matt and gloss planes.
The interior carries forward the exterior themes to sustain the power of the concept’s design with a tone-on-tone approach that combines black upholstery and trim with Burning Orange details.
The highly supportive seats are finished in black leather with orange headrests and bolsters. Burning Orange yarn has been used to create a unique, asymmetrical quilting pattern of multiple diamond shapes across the seatbacks and cushions. The design is replicated on the inner door panels, which also feature orange arm rests. A further flourish is provided by the orange finish for the highlight trim that extends the full width of the instrument panel and frames the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia touchscreen.
New high-power hybrid powertrain
The concept has been designed around the use of a new hybrid powertrain that offers more power and performance than the 120bhp system featured in the current production Toyota C-HR. This reflects a significant and strategic future development of Toyota’s world-leading technology that will see higher performance hybrid options being made available in all its core models. More details regarding this expansion of hybrid will be revealed early in 2018.
Interview: Lance Scott, Chief Designer, Toyota ED2
Lance Scott led the team which produced the Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Concept. He explains how the project was delivered.
What contribution did the ED2 design centre make to the production Toyota C-HR?
We were involved in the early stages of the project for both exterior and interior design. We developed the original concept exterior that was shown in Paris in 2014 and revised it for the Frankfurt motor show in 2015 as a preview of the main exterior design themes. For the interior design, our proposal was the direction selected during the internal design competition phase and was developed for production.
The production model already has a dramatic and highly distinctive design – what impact did this have on producing an even stronger look for the Hy-Power Concept?
When we started the project, we knew that we didn’t have to make any dramatic changes to the overall design. What we wanted to do was almost to purify or concentrate the unique value of the Toyota C-HR and see how we could give it further emphasis by using a new and unique colour and interior trim execution.
Did the status and success of the model have an influence on how you approached the project?
The fact that the Toyota C-HR is a key model that was recently launched and has been selling well made us aware that we shouldn’t cause any confusion with the show car. We went back to the original brief and the target customer profile to identify how we could accentuate the design while remaining faithful to its original direction.
What challenges and opportunities did the show car design process present?
The challenge was not to stray away from the qualities that define the Toyota C-HR, but to add to them in a fresh and original way. For example, we wanted to retain the high quality of the production car, so we explored different ways of expressing uniqueness in the interior. By using a high-quality leather trim with a unique gradation yarn and stitch patterns, were able to build on the fundamental qualities of the interior ambience.
How did you interpret the Toyota C-HR’s diamond design theme?
The diamond theme prompted us to think about the process by which a diamond is made from carbon. Carbon itself has very interesting qualities and this led us to produce a new fluid carbon exterior colour treatment with a look that is not matt, but not gloss in appearance either. This in turn made us think about molten materials, such has lava, which presents a powerful contrast between its cooled upper surface and red hot liquid centre. This was the inspiration for creating the roof colour and a dynamic pattern that progresses from vivid red to black.