Toyota’s spunky crossover gets a GR Sport-styled attitude adjustment

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Toyota’s range of performance-spec models under the “GR/GRMN” family has a new member in the fold. The C-HR GR Sport, which Toyota first unveiled in October in Japan, is heading to the global market packing enough sporty bits to qualify as a GR Sport model.

The upgrades are mostly cosmetic in nature, but Toyota also worked on improving several of the crossover’s technical elements. Considering that GR Sport is the entry-level line of Toyota’s growing performance-spec lineup — the GR sits in the middle and the GRMN rules the roost — the C-HR GR Sport is both a walking advertisement of what you can expect from future GR Sport models and a good example on the kind of performance potential that the C-HR has.

What’s the three-tier hierarchy of Toyota’s performance-spec line?

2020 Toyota GR Yaris Wallpaper quality Exterior
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Toyota’s performance car hierarchy comes in three tiers. The entry-level tier is the GR Sport. This is the line where the C-HR GR Sport belongs. Earlier this year, Toyota released the Corolla GR Sport, a sharper-styled version of the popular compact sedan.

Right above the GR Sport tier is the GR trim. The Supra and the Yaris have already been given the GR treatment. This involves cosmetic, aerodynamic, and performance upgrades, the latter of which applied at a modest level.

Then there’s the top-of-the-line GRMN tier. This is where Toyota’s performance arm, Gazoo Racing, goes all-out with comprehensive upgrades across all sections of a particular model. Toyota released the Yaris GRMN a few years ago with incredible upgrades that helped the otherwise dull hatchback benefit from a 1.8-liter supercharged engine that produced a whopping 209 horsepower. More recently, spy photographers captured a hardcore version of the Toyota GR Yaris running roughshod at the Nurburgring, suggesting that a follow-up version is in the works.

What’s included in the Toyota C-HR GR Sport?

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Exterior
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What you can expect is an appearance package and a significant one at that. Take the color options, for example. There are nine different colors to choose from, including a new Dynamic Gray paint that comes with a black roof.

The combination doesn’t scream for attention, but it works in a more subtle way. Piano Black accents are scattered all over the body of the C-HR. The bumper, fog lamp surrounds, and the front grille are all dressed in Piano Black. The door molding inserts on the side of the crossover are also finished in black, as do the reflector surrounds in the rear.

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport
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On the side of improved pieces, the C-HR now comes with a more aggressive front spoiler, a bespoke under-bumper trim garnish, and a new set of 19-inch alloy wheels that are exclusive to the crossover’s GR Sport trim.

Toyota also worked on improving the interior of the C-HR GR Sport. Would-be buyers have the option to choose between an Alcantara-trimmed leather or all-fabric seat upholstery to complement the new Cool Silver interior finish.

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Interior
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Either option will come with a GR-inspired red and grey stitching. Similar red stitching serves as suitable accents to the wheel rim and the gear lever gaiter. The interior also hosts enough branding that’ll properly identify the C-HR GR Sport as more than your typical crossover. Model-unique scuff plates, a GR start/stop button, GR Sport logos, and a GR start-up animation that’ll light up when you turn on the crossover’s digital display screen will remind you of the true identity of this particular C-HR.

What should we expect from the C-HR GR Sport’s performance capabilities?

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Exterior
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The Toyota C-HR GR Sport does not come with any engine upgrades. The crossover’s 1.8-liter inline-four cylinder engine produces 122 horsepower and 104 pound-feet of torque. It’s not the most powerful crossover in the business by any means so don’t expect to win any drag races with this model.

That said, Toyota and Gazoo Racing did tweak some parts of the C-HR GR Sport that’ll certainly improve the crossover’s driving experience. Upgrading the C-HR’s steering tuning and suspension system became points of emphasis for the C-HR GR Sport. These improvements don’t make the C-HR faster, but you are going to enjoy driving them around more than you would a standard model.

What comes standard in the Toyota C-HR GR Sport?

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Exterior
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Heated front seats, LED headlights, tinted windows, electric mirrors, heated front seats, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support all come standard in the C-HR GR Sport. In the event that you want more, you can avail of options that include a JBL sound system with nine speakers.

How much does the Toyota C-HR GR Sport cost?

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Exterior
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Toyota didn’t announce pricing details for the C-HR GR Sport, but it did say that the crossover goes on sale beginning in January 2021. Expect Toyota to release pricing information before then.

In the absence of a specific price, it’s best to compare it to traditional versions of the crossover. In that case, the entry-level LE has a base price of $21,295 while the XLE costs $23,330. The Limited tops the range with a starting price of $26,350.

Final Thoughts

2020 Toyota C-HR GR Sport Exterior
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Some people will look at the Toyota C-HR GR Sport and scoff at the lengths that Toyota will go to just so it can create performance versions of models that probably don’t deserve performance versions. They’ll tell you that the C-HR is an entry-level car for a reason; adding upgrades to it will look like Toyota forcing certain issues that it probably has no business doing. That’s fair, but it’s also not what I think when I see the C-HR GR Sport.

That’s the important thing to remember. Not all upgrades are created equal, and they’re certainly not when it comes to an entry-level model like the C-HR. But Toyota provided what the crossover needed in terms of driving improvements.

  • Leave it
    • No engine upgrades
    • No word on U.S. availability
    • Does it really deserve the GR Sport label?
Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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