Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Toyota says despite its expensive, new-fangled fuel cell, the Mirai offers a driving experience no different from that of any other electric car.

After all, it is the power source that has been replaced, not the method of driving the wheels. From behind the wheel, this rings true, the car’s filled-sails brand of amenability being little different from anything else powered by a modest-sized electric motor.

Abundant low-speed torque makes it easy to maintain a decent pace on steep climbs

The indicators of any real difference are on the peripheries of the experience. At start-up, the powertrain emits a subtle series of voltaic clicks and hums. At ‘idle’, it is audibly more active than the battery-only Tesla Model S, and it’s considerably noisier when under way.

If the dashboard display is to be believed, the fuel cell contributes energy to the motor even on part-throttle, although the noticeable whirr, graduating to a high-pitched whine, is produced by the less than cutting-edge Camry tech rather than the hydrogen-splitting bit.

The noise is chiefly a consequence of acceleration; at motorway speeds, where the fuel cell relieves the battery of all the heavy lifting, it settles back down.

Thanks to exceptional double-glazed suppression of wind noise, this helps to make the Mirai a hushed long-distance companion.

Elsewhere, it’s dutifully responsive. There’s a hint of creep, followed by the trademark EV swell that makes the Mirai feel a touch brisker than its 10.1sec showing to 60mph suggests.

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Predictably, it does low speeds better than high, but there’s enough enthusiasm under the pedal to make lane changing and occasional A-road overtakes less than daunting.

That’s all very familiar, but what’s not is the durable nature of its range. Typically, a motorway journey (certainly one featuring mostly outside-lane speeds) will have an EV’s battery life taking a nose dive; the Mirai, by virtue of the fuel cell’s steady productivity, acquiesces to the extra work in much the same way as a combustion engine would.

It is this predictability, combined with the beyond-300-mile autonomy potential according to our test results, that virtually eradicates the range anxiety you might get with a like-for-like EV – despite a conspicuous shortfall in the number of places to refuel.