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Toyota Mirai Test Drive Review

Date: 02 November 2015   |   Author:

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £66,000
Key rival: Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell
On sale: October 2015
Equipment: 9 airbags, satnav, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, rear camera and parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, wireless smartphone charging

The automotive future is coming slowly. In this case, a dozen vehicles at a time. Toyota has launched the world's first hydrogen-powered saloon car, and the second hydrogen car in series production after Hyundai's ix35 Fuel Cell.

The Mirai will certainly be a rarity on UK roads, with just 12 cars coming this year and another 18 in 2016, but at £66,000 a go before Government grants, there aren't likely to be hordes of fleets queuing round the block at this stage. And Toyota prefers potential customers to look at the £750 per month price for a four-year/60,000-mile lease that also includes all fuel, tyres and servicing, as it reckons that fleet customers will opt for that over outright purchase.

The Japanese brand is also targeting specific customers that it wants to run the car, to ensure it is fit for their needs, with Transport for London and taxi firm Green Tomato Cars among the first.

It's a fascinating car because there is a perception within the industry that the long-term movement of propulsion could go from fossil fuels, through EVs to hydrogen, because the vehicles can be refuelled in a similar time to petrol or diesel cars, so avoid the range anxiety and recharge time of electric models, but emit only water.

Toyota is repeating its formula for establishing hybrid vehicles by launching a model that is clearly something different to the mainstream. It looks like an Avensis adapted for a sci-fi film, and the fussy nature of the design won't meet with universal approval.

To drive, the Mirai is rather like a Prius. The fuel-cell links with an electric motor, much in the way the regular petrol-electric hybrid Prius works, so it will run on battery alone for a short distance under light load before switching to the fuel stack providing the energy.

Under acceleration there's a rather odd electrical whirring noise like a hoover that's more than an EV but much less than a regular petrol or diesel model. Otherwise it's impeccably quiet. On the road, the Mirai offers very light steering and a comfortable ride, while nothing feels out of the ordinary to anyone who has driven a Prius.

The interior is dominated by the sweeping futuristic dashboard with touch controls for the ventilation along with the touchscreen media system. The collage of black and white looks great when new, but the white leather may not be so appealing at 60,000 miles.

Space in the two rear seats - which are heated as part of an impressive list of standard equipment - is reasonable, and the 361-litre boot is stubby thanks to the packaging of battery and hydrogen systems, which also means there's no folding rear seats.

Building sales of the Mirai will be a slow process thanks to low volume allocations for the UK, the high price and the slow pace of infrastructure growth and development, but the car proves that the hydrogen-powered fuel cell is a feasible and logical technology, once the financial issues and refuelling network have been resolved.

Toyota Mirai

Model price £66,000
Range up to 300mls
CO2 (BIK band) 0g/km (0%)
BIK 20/40% per month £0/£0
Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 361 litres
Battery size/power 113kW battery/153hp


Another pioneering step towards the mobility of the future
  • Genuine zero-emission transport with no range anxiety in a normal-to-drive four-seat saloon package
  • Price and infrastructure are huge stumbling blocks, as is the tiny numbers coming to the UK