Review: Toyota Mirai (2015)
The first serious production hydrogen fuel cell car. Very quiet, pleasant and relaxed to drive.
Very expensive to buy at £66,000 (before any government grants).
Recently Added To This Review
Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell saloon confirmed as eligible for £5,000 Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Government grant support, in recognition of its zero emissions performance. This brings... Read more
Only 12 Mirai cars to be imported in 2015, then 18 a year from 2016. UK 700bar hydrogen fuel stations include: Heathrow: open Hendon: open Swindon: open Teddington: Q4 2015 CEME East London:... Read more
Mirai signals the start of a new age of vehicles. Using hydrogen – an important future energy source – as fuel to generate electricity, it achieves superior environmental performance while... Read more
Toyota Mirai (2015): At A Glance
The hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai is the future, quite literally – that’s what its name means in Japanese. However, it’s incredibly expensive at more than £65,000 and it’s not going to sell in big numbers – just a dozen or so cars a year in the UK. Instead this a showcase of how hydrogen fuel will work in years to come. And it’s seriously impressive.
Filling up the hydrogen tank (or tanks, there are actually two linked together) takes a few minutes and gives a range of more than 300 miles. Unfortunately, there are barely any places to fuel up with hydrogen, but Toyota hopes the infrastructure will come if the cars are made. It’s so dedicated that it has made most of the patents for the Mirai freely available.
Despite its radical styling, the Mirai is incredibly easy to drive, with an automatic transmission, comfortable suspension and excellent refinement. The drive system makes a faint whir, but it’s so quiet the engineers have had to work hard to soundproof the car from other noise, like tyre roar and wind rush, with impressive results.
Performance is good – peak power is 154PS and torque is 335Nm, available from zero rpm. Since there is no gearbox, acceleration is seamless, giving the Mirai great pace away from traffic lights. Since its only emissions are water, it falls into VED Band A and is free to tax.
Space is reasonable, although there are only two rear seats and taller back seat passengers will struggle for head room. Additionally the boot, while a decent size, isn’t as big as you might expect. On the plus side, there is plenty of equipment including a heated windscreen, heated steering wheel and heated seats, as well as leather upholstery.
Price and infrastructure aside, the Toyota Mirai is a very convincing car. With a bigger network of filling stations and a lower purchase price – which will come with mass-production – there is great potential for the Mirai and cars like it as an alternative to range-restricted, slow-charging battery electric vehicles.
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Toyota Mirai (2015): What's It Like Inside?
Toyota started with a blank slate when designing the Mirai, rather than using an existing model and converting it to run on hydrogen. The result is an intelligently packaged, well-made and high tech cabin, but with a few practicality caveats. Fortunately these aren’t major – the Mirai is as user-friendly as most saloon cars.
There are four seats, rather than five, and the aerodynamic roofline means rear headroom can be tight for taller occupants, but there is plenty of legroom. The boot has a capacity of 361 litres, which is plenty for some smaller suitcases, but the position of one of the two hydrogen tanks means the rear seats can’t be folded down.
Up front, the Mirai feels very much like a Toyota, but with a more futuristic layout. The small, joystick-style gear selector is about the only control on the centre stack that isn’t touch sensitive – everything else from navigation to ventilation and heated seats just requires a delicate tap to operate, like a smartphone screen.
Material quality is typically Toyota, with a mixture of solid and hardwearing plastics and plusher, luxurious details like leather upholstery on the seats. All four seats are heated, as is the electrically-adjustable steering wheel, while the front seats are electrically adjustable. Other luxuries include adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and navigation.
Mirai comes with pre-crash safety system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, hill start assist, power windows, auto wipers, auto lights, power adjustable steering column, power adjustable seats, smart entry, push button start, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, Toyota Touch 2 with navigation, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated power-fold door mirrors, LED rear lights, LED headlights.
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What's the Toyota Mirai (2015) like to drive?
Unlike a battery-powered EV, the Mirai has a built-in fuel cell that generates electricity by stripping the electrons from hydrogen atoms. The electron-free hydrogen ions then combine with oxygen to create water, which is the only tailpipe emission the Mirai produces. There’s even a button to purge stored water, if you want to show off.
That doesn’t mean the Mirai is fully eco-friendly just yet – most hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels. However, the main things needed to generate hydrogen are water and electricity, so there is no reason it can’t be made using renewable sources like wind, waves or solar energy if demand increases.
The Mirai is front wheel drive, with peak power of 154PS and peak torque of 335Nm. Those figures might not sound much for a car that weighs almost 2000kg, but in reality performance is surprisingly swift. This is particularly true from a standing start, since peak torque is available from zero rpm.
On the road, the Mirai is indistinguishable from an electric car. It’s an automatic, with a single forward gear ratio. Acceleration is seamless and almost silent, with just a faint whir under full throttle. Because the ‘engine’ produces no sound, other noises like wind rush or tyre roar became more noticeable in development.
As a result, engineers worked hard on refinement and it really shows. The Mirai is incredibly quiet and serene on the move, helped further by a comfort-focused suspension set up that irons out lumps and bumps tremendously well. The trade-off is slightly wallowy high-speed cornering, but that kind of driving isn’t really what the Mirai is for.
Filling up with hydrogen takes about the same amount of time as filling up with petrol or diesel and provides potential range of more than 300 miles. However, at current there are very few places to fill up, making the Mirai quite a difficult proposition for most buyers, despite the fact it is so easy and relaxing to drive.
What have we been asked about the Toyota Mirai (2015)?
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