CC Global: 2017 Toyota Proace Compact Van And Toyota C-HR – The Newest Toyotas In Europe

Apart from the Hilux two other Toyota models caught my attention in the dealership’s showroom, while waiting for the safety inspection of my own car. Those were their latest models, both introduced in 2016. The Proace panel van and the C-HR, the Coupé High Rider.

The new second generation of the Proace panel van has been developed in cooperation with PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) from France. The first 2013 generation was merely a Toyota badge slapped on the grille of the already existing Peugeot Expert, Citroën Jumpy and Fiat Scudo. At that point Toyota didn’t have a panel van to offer; previously, their own venerable Hiace was withdrawn from the European market.

The second generation is the result of a recent PSA-Toyota partnership, meanwhile Fiat has left the building. PSA and Toyota seem to get along fine, basically since they founded the TPCA (Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile) joint venture in 2002 for the development and production of a small A-segment hatchback: the Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 107-currently known as 108.

Back to the Proace Compact van displayed in the showroom, which is the shortest version with a payload capacity of 1,125 kg (2,480 lbs). There’s also a Proace with a longer wheelbase, while the biggest model combines the longer wheelbase with an extended rear overhang. The latter is also available as a double cab panel van.

From top to bottom: Toyota Proace, Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy. All front wheel drive with a MacPherson front suspension and a double wishbone rear suspension. Some direct competitors are the Volkswagen Transporter T6, the Ford Transit Custom (not sold in US), the Renault Trafic and the Mercedes-Benz Vito (Metris in US).

The PSA-Toyota triplet is also offered as a chassis-cab, which means you can have pretty much any custom-built body you want. The engines are state of the art PSA inline-4 diesels, either with 1.6 liter (95 or 115 hp) or 2.0 liter (122, 150 or 177 hp) displacement. All vans are built in PSA’s production facility in Valenciennes, France.

Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota also offer a minibus version with a more luxurious interior. Toyota calls theirs the Proace Verso.

The transmission choices are a 5-speed manual for the base models and a 6-speed manual or automatic for the more powerful models.

As you can see the cab, with three seats, is completely separated from the cargo compartment.

Here’s the longest Proace panel van with a double cab.

And now for something completely different, this is Toyota’s culture shock I found under the Christmas tree, the all new C-HR.

Good handling and driving dynamics were main attention points during its development. Or as the Japanese chief of design said in an interview I read recently: “Europeans don’t brake for an obstacle in a corner, they steer around it without reducing speed”.

The engine options are a 116 hp 1.2 liter inline-4 turbocharged gasoline engine and the well-known 1.8 liter hybrid powertrain, 122 hp combined, as used in the Prius and other models.

A C-HR 4wd is also offered, in which case you get the 1.2 liter turbo engine combined with an automatic transmission.

So far the late December mini showroom tour. Oh yes, of course the good ol’ Land Cruiser passed the safety inspection completely hassle-free. Take good care of your machinery and your machinery will take good care of you.

(Editor’s Postscript: the C-HR will be coming to the US as a 2018 model. Powertrains will be different, with only a naturally aspirated 2.0L four making 140 hp teamed with a CVT, and only in FWD.  The C-HR is aimed primarily at Europe, and Toyota expects up to 75% of them there to be the hybrid version, as a cleaner alternative to diesels, which are not offered at all on the C-HR. Given current low gas prices, Toyota does not see enough demand for a hybrid version in the US at this time.)