THE SPECS

• 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with CVT transmission

• 2017 C-HR is $37,990 for the fWD and $39,990 for the AWD

THE CAR

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"Would you be interested in driving the funky small SUV — the C-HR?" said the email from Toyota.

Yes, I most definitely would. Because I have a Toyota too. Not actually funky in any way, unless you're referring to the aroma from the week-old apple core under the back seat. Or the socks, from last week's football practice. No doubt the spiders find the wing mirrors a funky place to take up residence.

The "funky" this guy's referring to is about being stylish or exciting. It's a good word, actually, because this small SUV is most definitely is a funkstar. Once the kids have worked out how to get in (the "hidden" door handles are a little tricksy), we fill the boot (great space — 377 litres) with our essentials and in the theme of funk we sync phones, put some good beats on, and drive out to our favourite not-to-far-but-good-for-a-test-drive spot: Kaiterakihi Beach.

THE DRIVE

We have a picnic, fishing rods, and the tide is high. We are five — three in the back — and it's so hot we do what we never do (because we are in the "car windows down" camp): we turn on the air conditioning. It's cosy in the back. It's a cool ride out through leafy Titirangi and on to the West Coast beach. The roads present challenges: sharp bends, dips and steep hills. But this little beasty (a tidy SUV joining the small SUV craze) handles nicely. It doesn't feel as though you're floundering and lurching in a small ship, like you do in some SUVs. It takes a while to get up to speed, but it's super quiet, efficient and avails itself exceptionally well as a city runaround with capacity for more.