THE JAPANESE love a good acronym. We’ve had VTEC, PAWS, STI, SATCS, GTR and now C-HR.

What does C-HR stand for? Coupe High-Rider according to Toyota, which claims this new crossover mixes a coupe’s DNA with an SUV for a totally unique hybrid driving experience.

In the UK, where Toyota’s buyer demographic is generally quite old, the C-HR has been handed the job of reaching out to first-time buyers and young ‘active lifestyle’ couples.

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In the US the C-HR was supposed to be part of the Scion sub-brand aimed at young people but that was scrapped last year.

The C-HR is certainly eye-catching. There’s not a straight line in sight; everywhere you look there are curves, cut-outs, bulges and intersecting lines. Prominent wheel arches emphasis the vehicle’s strength, while the stylised lower body morphs seamlessly into the conventional glass house which, with its sloping roofline, has been designed to resemble a coupe (complete with disguised rear door handles). It’s undeniably complex but, to my eyes at least, the C-HR looks brutal rather than beautiful.

There are practical drawbacks to such an outrageous shape, too – in particular, the view out of the rear window is curtailed by its steep angle, narrow glass area and top hinged tailgate – but people who like it aren’t likely to care.

Some cars which look radical from the outside feel disappointingly ordinary when you’re sat behind the wheel. Not so the C-HR. The dashboard is dominated by an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen which stands proud of the fascia rather than being buried in it and the asymmetric centre console which bunches the major controls closer to the driver than the front passenger. It looks rather odd – we’ve grown used to seeing symmetrical dashboard layouts – but works well and puts all the controls within easy reach.

Unique in its sector, the C-HR is available with a full hybrid powertrain (built in Britain at Toyota’s factory in Wales) which is good for 120 bhp and 74.3 mpg.

The C-HR is also available with the 1.2-litre turbo already seen in the Auris hatchback which develops 114 bhp and 185 Nm of torque. The official average fuel consumption of this engine is 47.9 mpg. The UK won’t be getting the 2.0-litre petrol available in some other markets.

The C-HR sits on the same platform as the fourth gen Prius hybrid (albeit fitted with bespoke front and tweaked rear suspension) and it drives like one too. The C-HR deals with bumps and potholes well and, thanks to the lowest centre of gravity in the crossover class, there’s no car sickness inducing body movement either. The steering responds in a predictable manner and the hybrid powertrain’s electric motor (which delivers 100 per cent of its torque instantly) gives the car real zip.

In the UK, buyers can choose from three trim levels: Icon, Excel and Dynamic. The standard specification includes dual-zone automatic air conditioning, 17-inch alloys, touchscreen multimedia playback, front fogs, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Excel models add keyless entry, parking sensors with park assistance, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloys and satellite navigation.

Of course, the C-HR enters the toughest market segment at a time when key rivals are launching new models of their own. The Seat Ateca, the Nissan Qashqai and even the Suzuki S-Cross are all stern rivals.

Maybe that’s why Toyota has gone radical. After all, in a segment packed with good cars the only way to stand out from the crowd is to put on a show – something the C-HR does very well.