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Toyota's Juke killer draws closer with Frankfurt C-HR concept reveal

Toyota has been left without a truly small SUV since taking an enlarged RAV4 upmarket, and now it's showing signs of addressing that lineup vacancy with this revised C-HR Concept.

Toyota's C-HR is aimed at a crowded segment.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

FRANKFURT -- Toyota's original RAV4 was one of the first small crossovers on the market when it popped up back in the mid-90s. Over several generations, that vehicle has grown precipitously, and as a result, the Japanese automaker now has a gap in its range in one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments in the industry.

Toyota showed a C-HR Concept design study at the 2014 Paris Motor Show that seemed to address the problem, but now Toyota has brought back a revised version of the distinctively styled SUV at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and this time, the company says it intends to offer a version of the car to the public.

To that end, the bulbous yet angular C-HR concept has grown from a two-door into a four-door body style, with the rear access points somewhat hidden like that of the Nissan Juke (ostensibly one of the C-HR's key competitors). In addition to a more practical and sales-friendly four-door format, the C-HR has also received revised light fixtures and wheels, along with a gloss-black roof to replace the previous two-tone blue and black unit.

The C-HR Concept's design is purposefully riskier than your average Toyota. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Riding atop Toyota's New Global Architecture, a platform of standardized design that reduces the number of components Toyota has to buy and build (it also underpins the just-released fourth-generation Prius ), the concept is powered by an unidentified hybrid powertrain, although it's not clear if a gas-electric model will reach production.

The entry-level crossover category is one of the industry's hottest segments, with a load of new entries over the past couple of years including the Chevrolet Trax , Honda HR-V , Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3 , among others. The segment is projected to more than double in volume over the next few years, and Japan's largest auto maker can't afford to be left out in the cold.

Toyota has confirmed plans to show a production-intent version at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show in March.