What is it?
Despite recently releasing the Tucson, Hyundai is continuing to build and sell this fuel cell-powered version of the outgoing ix35. While at first glance it may seem little different to regular versions of the small crossover, what’s under the skin could point towards the future of the motor car.
At its heart, the ix35 Fuel Cell is basically an electric vehicle. Up front is an electric motor that produces 134bhp, and there’s a battery under the floor. Unlike most EVs, however, you don’t plug this one into the mains.
That’s where the fuel cell comes in. The fuel cell is located under the bonnet and runs on hydrogen drawn from a couple of high-pressure tanks either side of the rear axle. But unlike in a conventional internal combustion engine, this fuel isn’t burnt.
Instead, inside the fuel cell the hydrogen is split into protons and electrons, with the latter forced around a circuit. This generates electricity that is sent to the drive motor. Spare energy is used to charge the battery pack for times when peak power is needed.
Once the electricity has been generated, the only waste products are heat and water that is so pure you can drink it. When you run out of hydrogen, you just refill the tanks - a process that takes around three minutes.
Externally, the only differences between this and a conventional ix35 are a blue-backed Hyundai badge, fuel cell badging at the rear and a different fuel filler cover. Inside, the changes are even harder to spot, limited to a different set of dials in front of the driver.
This is very much at odds with cars such as the Toyota Mirai and Honda FCV Clarity. They both shout about their eco-credentials externally and internally; by way of contrast, the Hyundai is almost trying to hide its high-tech innards. But do they hinder it on the road?