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Car group tests

Toyota C-HR vs SEAT Ateca vs Nissan Qashqai

The bold new Toyota C-HR is here - can it gain some ground in the crossover market from the SEAT Ateca and Nissan Qashqai?

Toyota claims it invented the compact SUV back in 1994 with its original RAV4. However, nearly a quarter of a century later the market has moved on, while despite numerous updates the RAV4 has stood still.

Buyers are looking for sleeker, more stylish crossovers that combine sharp design with the high-riding practicality of an SUV. Toyota has some catching up to do, then, but its new C-HR is just the car to trouble talented rivals such as our current favourite choice in the crossover class, the SEAT Ateca, as well as the ever-present force that is the Nissan Qashqai.

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Diesel power is popular in this sector, but here we test three downsized, efficient, turbocharged petrol models in relatively modest trim levels that promise to maximise value for money while still delivering a strong image and good practicality.

Based on Toyota’s latest platform architecture and packing some impressive safety kit, the C-HR boasts enough technology to push its rivals. Which crossover will come out as the best of the bunch?


Toyota C-HR

Model: Toyota C-HR 1.2 Icon
Price: £20,995
Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo, 113bhp 
0-60mph: 11.3 seconds  
Test economy: 44.5mpg/9.8mpl 
CO2: 135g/km 
Annual road tax:£130

There’s no diesel option for the Toyota C-HR. As well as this turbo petrol engine, there’s a petrol-electric hybrid that offers similar performance but with lower CO2 emissions. However, it’s also a lot more expensive than the £20,995 entry-level C-HR Icon 1.2 that we test here – although our pictures show a top-spec Dynamic model. 

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Testers’ notes: “While the C-HR’s infotainment unit is good, it’s bolstered by a number of different optional entertainment packs, including iPad holders on the rear seats.”

SEAT Ateca

Model:SEAT Ateca 1.0 TSI SE
Price: £20,125
Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo, 113bhp 
0-60mph: 10.7 seconds  
Test economy: 34.6mpg/7.6mpl 
CO2: 119g/km  
Annual road tax:£30

As Auto Express’s reigning Best Crossover, the SEAT Ateca is the car the C-HR has to beat. It has already impressed with its blend of practicality, space, performance and style and continues to sit proudly at the top of the class. But can the Ateca continue its run of road test victories in relatively basic £20,125 1.0 TSI SE guise?

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Testers’ notes: “The Ateca feels very much like a jacked-up Leon. This extends to the cabin design, which is carried over almost unchanged from the well finished hatchback.”

Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai has been the biggest seller in the crossover market since this second-generation model hit showrooms back in 2013. While it went to the top of the class, taking our Best Crossover title twice in a row, over the past few years rivals have caught up – and in some cases surpassed it. We test the £20,935 Acenta, fitted with the firm’s 1.2 DIG-T engine as an alternative to the more popular diesel (although our pictures show an N-Connecta model), to see if the Nissan can hold its own against the Toyota and the SEAT.

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Testers’ notes: “The Qashqai is also available with an automatic gearbox for £1,450, but instead of a conventional self-shifting unit it’s a CVT transmission that doesn’t suit the engine.”


First place: SEAT Ateca

The thirsty 1.0-litre TSI engine isn’t the pick of the range, but the Ateca takes victory here for the same reasons that gave it the edge in 1.6 TDI guise. It’s very practical and great to drive. On top of that, the three-cylinder turbo offers respectable performance and there’s a decent level of kit. It doesn’t have the high-quality feel of the C-HR inside, but it’s still a great crossover that covers all the bases.

Second place: Toyota C-HR

Distinctive styling, a smooth, refined engine and a supple chassis that rides and handles well mean the Toyota offers most of the attributes you want from a crossover. However, this 1.2 will cost business users more to run, while it’s not as practical as the versatile Ateca. Finance deals aren’t as competitive for private buyers, either, but strong fuel economy is a bonus.

Third place: Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai is now looking a little old hat next to its newer rivals here, because the drab interior and sub-standard infotainment simply can’t compete. In 1.2-litre petrol form, it’s also not as good to drive, nor is it as economical, and it costs more than the Ateca. And while the Qashqai is practical, it’s not as comfortable as its rivals, especially the C-HR.

Other options for similar money...

New: Renault Kadjar Dynamique Nav TCe 130

MG GS vs rivals - Renault Kadjar front tracking

Price: £20,845Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 128bhp

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The Ateca pipped the Kadjar to top spot in the class, but for a little more money, you can get the Renault with more power from a 128bhp engine and even more kit than its rivals, including sat-nav in Dynamique Nav trim. It’s good value.

Used: Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI SE

Audi Q3 - front

Price: £20,500Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

If you want something a little more premium, and don’t mind buying used, a 1.4-litre petrol Audi Q3 SE is within reach. It’s a bit smaller than our trio, but still offers good practicality, on top of stronger badge appeal.


 SEAT Ateca 1.0 TSI SEToyota C-HR  1.2 IconNissan Qashqai Acenta DIG-T 115
On-the-road price/total as tested£20,125/£21,470£20,995/£20,995£20,935/£20,935
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,748/38.5%£10,174/48.5%£9,473/45.3%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£803/£1,606£999/£1,998£919/£1,838
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,870/£3,117£1,454/£2,423£1,926/£3,209
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost9/£563/C/£3015/£1,286/E/£13017/£529/D/£110
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£378 (2yrs/20,000)£180/£330/£180£159/£249/£159
Engine3cyl in-line/999cc4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,197cc
Peak power 113/5,000 bhp/rpm113/5,600 bhp/rpm113/4,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 200/2,000 Nm/rpm185/1,500 Nm/rpm190/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/£11043 litres/£15055 litres/£215
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 510/1,604 litres377/1,160 litres430/1,503 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,280/550/1,300kg1,320/525/1,300kg1,318/542/1,200kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.8 metres/N/A10.4 metres/0.32Cd10.7 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/2yrs5yrs (100,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 (1yr)/12810,000 (1yr)/20612,500 (1yr)/221
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.18th/31st16th/4th28th/29th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist points93/84/71/60/5N/A88/83/69/79/5
0-60/30-70mph10.7/10.3 secs11.3/10.8 secs11.2/11.4 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.6/6.4 secs5.2/7.2 secs5.9/7.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 9.7/13.1 secs11.3/16.6 secs13.7/20.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 114mph/2,500rpm118mph/2,300rpm115mph/2,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 46.4/32.4/10.8m48.4/31.5/10.2m51.3/34.6/9.8m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph68/53/65/70dB67/53/65/73dB61/51/65/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range34.6/7.6/381 miles44.5/9.8/421 miles33.6/7.4/407 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 45.6/61.4/54.3mpg38.2/55.4/47.9mpg42.8/55.4/50.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.0/13.5/11.9mpl8.4/12.2/10.5mpl9.4/12.2/11.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket189/119g/km/20%147/135g/km/24%194/129g/km/22%
Airbags/Isofix/parking sensors/camSeven/yes/yes/£220Seven/yes/no/yesSix/y/£495^^/£795**
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEBNo/yes/yes/yes£1,200/y/adaptive/y£1,450/y/y/£495^^
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/£325Yes/£1,250/noYes/no/£295
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£575/£820/£505£545/no/£995^£575/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£525/yes/£525*/y£750/yes/yes/yes£795**/y/£795**/y
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