The Toyota Mirai drives essentially like a normal car.
Toyota has said it wants its first fuel cell vehicle to be an electric car with no perceptible compromises for consumers, so would you expect it do otherwise?
During a brief local test drive today, we were able to at least get a feel, and can report initial impressions, with more to follow after we get more seat time tomorrow.
“Normal” in this case means a midsized electric vehicle that drives within realm of what people have come to expect from Toyotas.
Not Supras. Not Lexus GS sedans. No, more like Camry and Prius is what we had in mind – two sensible cars that function well with the primary mission being competent personal transportation.
Punching the accelerator delivers brisk acceleration and 0-60 mph in an estimated 9 seconds with a distinctive hum sound from the hydrogen pump forcing fluid through the fuel cell stack comprised of 370 cells.
Acceleration is about 1.4-seconds slower than a Camry, and perhaps a second or so quicker than the Prius. Absent is any engine noise and only the tires could at times be heard making their own hum of a different sort.
Chirping of the scuffing low rolling resistance tires can also be heard on slightly slippery surfaces, or if punching the accelerator while making a slow turn. Horsepower is 153 and torque of 247 pounds-feet is decent enough for the 4,078-pound four seater.
With its regenerative brake system mirroring that of the Prius, brake performance is on par. We were not able to get a solid feel for all handling dynamics, but the car’s low center of gravity makes it feel more balanced than a Prius.
Toyota has talked up the car as satisfying to drive, and so far, we can’t disagree. For people wanting a neato tech experience unlike most any other, this fuel cell car is that.
Shifting is by a small wand not unlike a Prius-reminiscent smallish lever, and the car is heavily contented.
It’s not believed Toyota will be offering more than one fully equipped trim level for this Lexus with a Toyota badge intended to take the company into the next 100 years.
The Mirai presents itself as functional and comfortable, and we can see how some people could groove on the novel car.
Electrically adjustable seating of a high-grade imitation leather is comfortable and roomy front and back.
All the bells and whistles most might want are there. The drive experience is not exactly battery electric like, but this different kind of electric car offers a similar feel no less techy.
Some would argue it’s more technically advanced, actually, even if it does borrow a bunch of hardware from the Camry Hybrid to cut production costs. Even the parking brake is a pedal on the floor like a carryover from yesterday, but the fuel cell technology is closer to space age.
Its styling which might be a mash-up between a Prius and Lexus LFA was penned in Japan, and yes, people have questioned how attractive it ultimately is, but it does look better in person.
It can even look dramatic pulling up at night with its row of bright-white color temperature LED headlights and other lighting accenting its quiet otherwise dimly lit silhouette
Toyota wants it to be different stylistically, just as the Prius is – while also familiar where it counts – in not stretching average consumer comfort zones in the driveability, refueling, and range department.
On these it has arguably succeeded. We could go on with commentary and facts but will cut it here, and save them for our full report.
The short story is the vehicle ought not to disappoint its intended audience even if others are upset over open questions that while being hashed out now, may not be fully answered for a few years or more.