With the Mirai, Toyota pioneered hydrogen fuel cell motoring. Can this MK2 model further develop it? Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The second generation version of Toyota's Mirai is a model the brand wants you to choose on its own merits, not just because it's a hydrogen fuel cell car. Its predecessor was first to market with this technology and this replacement design aims to play a key role in popularising it amongst forward-thinking ordinary buyers. Ultimately, this contender needs a far more developed hydrogen station infrastructure for popular acceptance. But it's a fascinating glimpse into all our motoring futures.


Are you ready for a hydrogen fuel cell car yet? Probably not. But Toyota wants you to be. Any really switched-on industry analyst will tell you that electrification is a short-term fix to the environmental impact of the motor vehicle and that hydrogen fuel cell tech is a far more sustainable route to long term global mobility. As you'd expect it might be given that a hydrogen fuel cell car emits nothing more deadly than pure water and can be recharged in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, many manufacturers and governments have yet to grasp this concept - but Toyota does.

The Japanese maker was first to market with a volume-produced hydrogen-powered car, launching the first generation version of its Mirai model back in 2014, since when around 17,000 examples have been sold worldwide. This second generation design is tasked with attracting real customers to the fold and wants to be a car you'd choose to own on its own merits, not just because of its futuristic powertrain. Lofty ambitions then.

Driving Experience

With the first generation Mirai, Toyota was so focused on making the fuel cell technology actually work that thoughts of drive dynamics were somewhat secondary. This MK2 model is different. Chief Engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka wants the Mirai now to have 'the kind of dynamic and responsive performance that can bring a smile to the driver's face'. The starting point in achieving that goal was the installation of a much stiffer and more sophisticated TNGA platform. And a switch away from the front-driven format of the MK1 model to a rear-driven drivetrain. More power was also needed, the previous car's 152bhp output increased here to 180bhp, a level now deemed more appropriate for the Mirai's more up-market aspirations. And of course, a 30% range increase, this car will now go over 400 miles between top-ups.

The updates have been targeted at creating the kind of elegant, luxury feel that's been benchmarked by Tanaka-san and his team against conventional luxury models from BMW and Mercedes. The engineers worked on creating light and easy handling on winding roads and a linear, smooth response when pulling away.

Design and Build

With this MK2 model, the stylists were given the freedom to create a more emotional and head-turning design with low lines, elegant proportions, sleek, taut bodywork, a deep rear diffuser and large 20-inch wheels. This is also now a significantly larger car too, the 4,975mm total length being 85mm longer than the previous car.

The interior benefits from a 140mm wheelbase increase and features the predictable step up in quality in line with this Mirai model's more up-market aspirations. Key elements include a 12.3-inch centre display and an instrument panel that wraps around the driver, with a digital screen for the gauges you view through the redesigned steering wheel. There's a significant change at the rear, which can now seat three people rather than two thanks to changes in the design and packaging of this second generation model's updated hydrogen storage system which is now split between three tanks rather than two. Together, these tanks improve the car's fuel capacity to 5.6kg, 1kg more than the original model - hence the longer 400 mile driving range.

Market and Model

With this MK2 Mirai, Toyota has slashed the price by 24%, seeking to gain more traction in the hydrogen fuel cell segment. The asking figures now begin at around £50,000, which gets you the base 'Design' version. The mid-range 'Design Plus Pack' variant costs around £54,000 and the top 'Design Premium Pack' model costs around £65,000. That's still a lot of money for a saloon of this size but even at this level, the brand is probably not covering the cost of this technology. It won't always be like this. Rivals Hyundai are working with Audi to cut the cost of a fuel cell powertrain by half and reduce the overall cost of a fuel cell car by 30%, so Toyota will have to follow suit.

As a Mirai customer, you shouldn't come expecting too many options: there's no need as all the key luxuries will come as standard. At least you won't find the process of market comparison too taxing. For the time being, there's actually only one other hydrogen fuel cell car on sale in our market, the Hyundai Nexo, which costs around £70,000.

Cost of Ownership

With this second generation Mirai, Toyota's 'FCEV' ('Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle') needed a bit of a re-think if the design goals in enhancing driving range and increasing interior space were to be realised. The hydrogen fuel load is now split between three tanks rather than two, these fashioned from carbonfibre and aluminium, with a longitudinal one positioned between the front seats and two transverse ones under the rear bench and cargo area floor. Together, these tanks improve the car's fuel capacity to 5.6kg, 1kg more than the original model - hence the longer 400 mile driving range, a distance also boosted by various drivetrain efficiency improvements.

A hydrogen refill takes no longer than around five minutes. That's the good news. The bad news is that at the time of writing, there were just 16 operational hydrogen fuel stations in the UK, with six more being planned. There are plans to increase the number of available stations to 65 by the year 2025.


Toyota has done a thorough job here. Even if you happened to actually own a hydrogen filling station, you might have had trouble justifying the original Mirai, with its awkward looks and compromised cabin. There are no issues of that kind with this second generation design. Toyota has again set the standard here. Other brands should watch and learn.


CAR: Toyota Mirai

PRICE: £49,995 - £64,995 – on the road




PERFORMANCE: 0-62 – 9 sec / 108 mph


BOOT CAPACITY: 321 litres

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/height 4975/1885/1470mm