There are now 500 of these cars in Europe, of which 17 made it to the UK. We even ran a long-term hydrogen ix35 to find out how realistic it was to live with.
The Nexo replaces the ix35, and is built from the ground up as an FCEV. Compared to the ix35, the fuel cell technology is smaller, lighter and stronger, refuelling times are shorter and the air supply system is improved. It has 414 miles of range on a WLTP cycle and takes five minutes to refuel.
Hyundai calls the Nexo its “technological flagship” and to this end, has made sure technology extends far beyond just the hydrogen fuel cell. It has a blind spot view monitor which shows drivers on a central screen the rear left, right and side views of the Nexo using cameras while changing lanes as well as Remote Smart Parking Assist, which enables the Nexo to park itself or retrieve itself from a parking space without a driver in the car.
The model is capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, which means it can self-drive in all but the most complex driving scenarios, and was tested in South Korea where it completed a 118-mile run. However, this technology won’t be fitted to the production models given that legislation does not yet allow for that level of autonomy.
It’s also safe, recently becoming the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle to score a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Given the issues we’ve highlighted surrounding hydrogen, it’s unsurprising there are few competitors to the Nexo. The £66,000 Toyota Mirai is the only other hydrogen car on sale in the UK, while there are no plans to bring the Honda Clarity FCV to the UK despite it being on sale elsewhere.
Is the Nexo ready to arrive in dealerships yet?
We drove a pre-production Nexo, but to all intents and purposes, it’s ready to go bar a few materials and the sat nav which is still in development.
The opportunity has come up because it’s ‘Clean Driving Month’ and Hyundai has teamed up with University College London to map the most polluted and congested roads in the city, and then – you guessed it – have the Nexo drive around to help clean the air. Yes, it’s a marketing ploy, but demonstrates an impressive string to its bow.
There are two elements which are displayed in a section of the infotainment system. The first shows how much air you’ve purified, equating it to the amount of air an adult breathes a day. Hyundai claims that, in one hour, the Nexo purifies 26.9kg of air, the same amount as 42 adults.
The second is the CO2 reduction achieved by driving the Nexo over a petrol car. For example, in one 8.7-mile section of my drive, the system claimed CO2 was reduced by 2.1kg.
How does the Hyundai Nexo perform on the road?
Green credentials aside, what’s it like to drive? You might expect a hydrogen car to feel dramatically different, yet it doesn’t. The Nexo hasn’t been created to be the ultimate driver’s car but, nonetheless, it is respectable on the road. In many ways, it feels like any electric vehicle with the same instant and linear power delivery.
The 120kW motor delivers 161bhp and 291lb ft of torque and the Nexo does 0-62mph in 9.5sec. From a standing start, it has just slightly more lag than your typical EV, but is still far more satisfying than an average internal combustion-engined car.