At first sight, you might think the Mirai is a fairly conventional family car, albeit one with some pretty eye-catching styling. However, what should really catch your eye are the words ‘Fuel cell’ gleaming on the boot lid and front wings. They mean this is something almost unique in the UK: a car driven by a hydrogen fuel cell, in which hydrogen and oxygen react to produce electricity that powers the car’s electric motor.
As a result, the car’s only tailpipe emissions are water, but unlike a conventional electric car, it has a decent range and can be easily – and quickly – refuelled.
This cutting-edge technology is the result of three decades’ work by the boffins at Toyota. And, just as the company pioneered hybrid tech with the original Prius, this is one of the UK’s first hydrogen cars (second only to the Hyundai ix35
), previewing tech that will eventually filter down to many of Toyota’s other cars.
At the moment, this tech isn’t cheap – the Mirai is about the same size as a Ford Mondeo, but costs £66,000, making it almost twice as much as a Toyota Prius plug-in
– but Toyota has drawn up a contract hire deal that makes it more attractive, and it comes in a single, lavishly equipped trim level that makes the cost a little easier to bear.