ON THE ROAD: IT'S not often you hear a car described as 'sensual' but that's an adjective given to the C-HR by Toyota.

The crossover-cum-coupe is certainly distinctive and definitely stirs the passions from a visual perspective.

It's a design that's full of sharp corners, tight angles and flowing lines - a vision of the future, now.

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We tested the hybrid version of the car - a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engined option is also available. Combining a 1.8 litre petrol unit and an electric motor, it puts out 120bhp.

Though it might look sporty from the outside, the C-HR is something of a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Nought to 62mph takes 11 seconds and its top speed is 105mph, so it won't stir your driving passions.

Around town, that's not much of an issue, but it comes as something as a surprise when you get on the open road.

The steering doesn't converse as well as I had hoped with the driver and though it never gets out of shape in corners, it's not as dynamic as it looks might suggest. I'm told the petrol version is more adept, given that it's lighter.

ON THE INSIDE: THE interior of the C-HR mirrors the exterior. Many, many hours have gone into the design, the way it is presented and the materials used. It's a cockpit that elicited a 'wow' from one of my more discerning friends.

Toyota call it 'Sensual Tech' - there's that word again. They describe it as a departure for the company, combining "high-tech functionality with a sensual, fashionable cabin".

I think they've got it spot on, certainly in this Excel badged car. There are so many things that catch your eye, be it the mood lighting, the infotainment system, the way the dash sweeps and curves - from an aesthetic point of view it's a winner. The layout is uncluttered, much of the controls contained within the tablet sized touchscreen.

WHAT DO YOU GET: THE Excel badged car I drove came with, among other things, Toyota's Safety Sense pack; ABS with EBD and brake assist; vehicle stability control, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor, EV, Eco and Power drive modes, Dual 4.2ins TFT multi-information display, electric parking brake, power windows, park assist, front and rear parking sensors, smart entry and push button start, rain-sensing front wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, 12v power outlet and auto-dimming rear mirror. In addition, there was Toyota Touch 2 Go system, incorporating 8ins touchscreen, satellite navigation, on-line connectivity, advanced Bluetooth, rear-view camera, aux-in and USB port, dual zone air conditioning, part-leather upholstery, 60:40 split-folding rear seats and heated front seats. Externally, our car came with 18ins alloys, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights, follow-me-home lights, electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors and rear privacy glass. Options on our car included Toyota's Premium Pack and pearlescent paint.

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT: THERE'S plenty of room in the front of the C-HR, but the sloping design means that, in the rear, space is not so generous, especially for the taller out there. You can get three in the back, indeed my kids travelled in relative comfort, but three adults is probably pushing it a little. There are several places to stow your goods, including a decent sized central box, although getting into it proved a little problematic for me. I go cycling a lot and take kids to football training and found the door bins were not large enough to accommodate my drinks bottles. There's 377 litres of space in the boot with the seats up.

RUNNING COSTS: THIS is not a cheap car, the one I drove costing a smidgen over £30,000. Given that this is a hybrid, you'd expect the fuel economy to be decent. Toyota say you should be able to get 72.4mpg on the combined cycle, I managed somewhat lower, but was still pleasantly surprised with the amount I had left in the tank. CO2 emissions are low, at 87g/km.

VERDICT: STYLISH, desirable but slightly underwhelming performance.

ALTERNATIVES: Nissan Qashqai, SEAT Ateca