A new era for fuel-cell vehicles has begun.
Toyota wants the Mirai to do for fuel cell vehicles what the Prius did for hybrids. Launched in 2014, the original Toyota Mirai was overlooked thanks to its high price tag and limited availability in California and Hawaii. It also didn't help that it looked and drove like a bloated Toyota Prius. Six years later, the second generation has arrived, but unlike before, it no longer takes on the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Hyundai Nexo - it's aiming higher. With its slick new design, improved driving dynamics, and impressive range, this is a significant improvement over its predecessor and an enticing alternative to battery-electric cars like the Tesla Model S.
To rival such, Toyota has gone big with a newly-adopted platform for the Mirai. The TNGA-L platform is the same RWD one shared by the Lexus LS and the stunning Lexus LC 500, allowing for greater space, luxury, and vastly improved driving dynamics.
Switching to Toyota's modular GA-L platform has allowed the fuel cell stack and drivetrain components to be repackaged, resulting in a more spacious interior with improved legroom for rear-seat passengers. It enables three high-pressure hydrogen tanks to be fitted, increasing the fuel capacity and driving range. Combined, these tanks can hold 12.3 pounds of hydrogen compared to 10.14 pounds in the current Mirai's two tanks, resulting in a claimed 400-mile range - an increase of 30% over the outgoing model. However, Toyota hasn't stated whether this claim is based on the WLTP cycle or America's more stringent EPA tests.
The fuel cell stack is smaller and has 330 cells instead of 370. Despite this, the power output of the electric motor has increased from 152 hp to 179 hp, but torque has reduced from 247 lb-ft to 221 lb-ft. 0-62 mph takes 9.2 seconds before the new Mirai tops out at 108 mph. The weight of the fuel cell stack has also been reduced by 50 percent thanks to a relocated manifold, a smaller fuel cell, a reshaped gas channel separator, and innovative materials in the electrodes. A smaller and lighter lithium-ion high-voltage battery replaces the current model's nickel-metal hydride unit.
With rear-wheel drive and a lower center of gravity, the new Mirai will be much more rewarding to drive than the FWD model it replaces. The new architecture has also enabled the hydrogen fuel cell to move from beneath the floor to the front compartment, resulting in a 50:50 front to rear weight distribution. New multilink front and rear suspension replace the previous front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam, improving the car's stability. As standard, the new Mirai rides on larger 19 and 20-inch wheels fitted with 235/55 R19 and 245/45 R20 tires respectively.
In terms of styling, the new Mirai is a radical departure from its predecessor. This is a much more attractive, premium-looking sedan, with a lower coupe-style roofline and a longer 115-inch wheelbase. The rear overhang has also extended by 3.34 inches and the overall length is now 195.9 inches. US pricing hasn't been announced yet, but Toyota has confirmed the MSRP will be reduced by around 20 percent, which the Japanese automaker hopes will help increase the Mirai's sales ten-fold, globally. For reference, the outgoing US-spec Mirai starts at $58,550, so the new model should cost under $50,000.